Get Obsessed with Your Existing Customers: Seven Strategies to Retain Clients, Increase Trust, and Reap the Benefits
What does this mean for you as a medical aesthetic clinic owner? It means you have to rethink your marketing strategy. No matter how regularly you post compelling SEO blog pieces on the latest developments in fractional laser treatments, or how often you blast on Instagram promoting deals for injectables, you will not increase your share of the medical aesthetic market unless you accept one essential truth.
Your existing customers must be at the heart of your marketing strategy.
Why? For starters:
- Medical aesthetic clinics that RxPhoto consulted with almost unanimously agreed that word of mouth remained their single best source of new referrals.
- 59% of people ask their family and friends for advice about where they should go when they need a service.
- 88% of people read online reviews to gauge the quality of a local business, and 72% say positive reviews make them trust a local business more.
- Building trust with customers is key to growth in any industry.
In short, existing customers represent the main source of influence in attracting (or repelling!) new prospects to your aesthetic clinic. Nothing you ever write or create will ever be as motivating to potential clients than what your existing customers have to say about you. No clinic can grow without including the people who already trust you in your marketing approach: your existing customers.
When you take the best possible care of your existing clients by providing advice, treatment, and services that result in tangible aesthetic outcomes, they return for more.
Here, we give you seven indispensable strategies that will enhance your relationship with existing clients, improve client retention, and turn your existing customer base into active promoters of your clinic’s brand.
1Customer personalization builds trust.
Why should clients take their expendable income and spend it with your clinic? Because your clinic makes them feel like they matter; their individual needs are recognized and your approach to providing service is personalized to meet their needs.
In an increasingly impersonal world, the value of personalized interaction and communication cannot be stated strongly enough. We crave personalization. Customization is now demanded across diverse industries, and basically, personalization builds trust.
In the aesthetics industry, personalizing interactions is easy. Get closer to your customers in creative, thoughtful ways and use the information you have about them to build relationships for life.
Personalize your aesthetic clinic’s service in the following ways:
- Call your clients on their birthday, or send an email offering them a value add-on to their next treatment. Your customer relationship management system (CRM) can help you keep track of client birthdays and even send out automated emails.
- Encourage your staff to greet all customers by name as much as possible, but especially your existing clients. Using someone’s name creates a subtle yet very pleasant feeling of being personally appreciated and acknowledged. In the aesthetics industry, one asset we do have great access to is client photographs, which can help with learning names. Staff should know the names of existing regular clients when they come in. No buts.
- Ask about aesthetic concerns, and note them during consultations. RxPhoto has a note-taking feature so you can create patient notes easily and quickly as you engage in the consultation. Use this information to suggest appropriate future treatments based on their needs. Every time they come back, check in to see how they are feeling about their current aesthetic concerns and if they might be interested in trying new treatments that target their specific issues.
- Know what your existing customers like. A great CRM can help you with this. CRMs give extraordinary visibility to see the treatments your existing clients favor most. Based on what they like, suggest similar or appropriate treatments that they may also enjoy or find useful. Get creative! Ask their favorite chocolate, make a note of it, and offer it with their intake forms. These little gestures go a LONG way to making existing clients feeling valued and recognized.
- Know who they like. When they book treatments, ask if they have a preference for a certain staff member to perform the treatment. Having a preferred staff member perform a treatment can build a sense of consistency and trust.
- Customize or create bespoke services. For example, if your client has concerns with wrinkles and volume loss in their face, offer them a combination of injectables to meet their needs, rather than two separate treatments.
2Under promising and over delivering builds trust.
One of the most key ingredients to a successful aesthetic treatment is realistic patient expectations. Existing clients who maintain loyalty to your clinic are those who have had their expectations managed carefully, and trust you as a result. Patients who have misconceptions or unrealistic fantasies of dramatic changes following aesthetic treatments are naturally going to be disappointed and distrusting, will never return, and will likely bad-mouth your clinic.
Among expert aesthetic practitioners, the tenet of under promising and over delivering is a given, particularly with surgeries such as rhinoplasty which traditionally have lower patient satisfaction rates. Demonstrate outcomes that are less favorable than what you believe can actually be achieved, as this reins in patients' expectations. According to Stacy Caprio, med spa marketing expert at Accelerated Growth Marketing, under promising and over delivering makes for ecstatic clients who will rave about your clinic and services to others, and will be fiercely loyal to your brand.
Caprio explains, “My best advice is to under promise and over deliver results and service on the exact client needs and goals they have confided in you. You'll make raving fans who will tell those around them about you, without you or those around them even asking.”
3Take care of your existing customers by hiring the BEST staff.
Onboarding the best staff means your clients will have an amazing experience each and every time they come, and will spread the word about your clinic.
Kimberly Rath, co-founder and chairman of Talent Plus, an agency that helps med spas and aesthetic clinics to source employees, says finding the right staff who are highly competent and specialized in their field is the key to optimal client experience.
When you take care of this, you take care of your customers. Highly engaged employees deliver an amazing client experience. Regardless of your organization’s size, select the best to work with your clients. It is flattering to a client to know they have the opportunity to work with the best.
Select staff with the greatest natural capacity to take care of your clients. Proactive service behaviors delight customers and make them want to return, and also compel them to spread the word about your services organically without being prompted. Says Rath:
Select individuals who absolutely love to build relationships and take care of clients. When you select individuals who are hardwired to care about your customer, you get amazing results. The outcome? Referrals. People who are raving fans will convey that to others.
4Get testimonials from your satisfied existing clients.
Since you’ve invested significant time and effort into making your clients happy, use their goodwill to help grow your business. Don’t waste precious money and time talking about your selling points, but instead amplify the best of what's already being said. According to Robin Alex, President at Innovate Fast Marketing it starts with asking for testimonials. “Utilizing video and photography is the key to make it happen!” RxPhoto can help you here, recording testimonials quickly and easily so they are stored with the patient’s record.
Far too many clinics post text testimonials without visuals. Short video testimonials or before and after photographs posted on Instagram or Facebook instantly make your clinic more trustworthy to new prospective clients, showing the real results of real existing patients. Case studies that track a patient’s progress over time are even better. Make sure, however, that you abide by the legal guidelines regarding the use of testimonials in your state.
Asking for testimonials can be awkward though; effectively, you are asking your client to perform work on your behalf. So how can you get more testimonials from satisfied existing clients in a quick, easy, and painless way?
- Sign up with sites such as Trustpilot, RealSelf, MedReviews, or Yelp, which help businesses get testimonials online and showcase them to future prospects.
- Use successful, operationalized methods of gaining testimonials from satisfied clients: for example, asking at the right time. Follow up after a treatment or series of treatments with a phone call. As the client divulges their experience and perceptions, encourage with comments like, “Interesting, tell me more.” Note or record their responses, or repeat back what they told you, and ask if they would feel comfortable if their comments were turned into a testimonial. You might say, “What you just said would make an awesome testimonial. I’d like to post this on our website with your name and before and after images if that’s okay with you. To thank you, we could upgrade your next treatment to …., or add on …..” What’s more, this gives you the chance to really speak to your existing clients and hear what they have to say.
5Encourage existing client interaction with social media to boost your clinic’s profile.
Hien Nguyen, a med spa business strategist, explains that existing clients represent a key part of SEO strategy, because they are most likely to read blog posts, leave comments, and interact with social media. Explains Nguyen:
These interactions help boost the clinic's online presence, increasing search engine rankings, and thus dramatically increase organic traffic to the site. So one client can indirectly bring in thousands more new patients that they don't even directly know. Pretty cool stuff!
Send out email updates to existing clients with links to your clinic’s blog, tag clients in Instagram and Facebook posts to boost shares. Provide compelling reasons to engage with your social media channels which will have a ripple effect on new clientele: proven winning methods include posting provocative questions, posting polls or quizzes, asking for opinions, or encouraging patients to test their knowledge about a particular treatment.
6Use your existing clients to attract new clients in creative ways.
- Use incentives for referrals. While there are obvious and somewhat tired methods to reward clients, such as offering a discount on future services or a gift card to use on their next visit, there are increasing cutting edge incentives that add value to the client’s experience, without reducing your income. For example, for patients undergoing microdermabrasion, consider adding a mild chemical peel as a value add. This can be easily included in the patient’s treatment, with minimal time or financial outlay from you, the provider, and chances are the client will see the benefits of the treatment and return for more.
- Use VIP cards. VIP cards may have the value of $30-$50, and current patients can pass them on to friends and family as a gift. This allows current patients to provide a discount to new prospects, without offering a direct incentive. One clinic in Chicago that utilized this practice attracted more than $30,000 of revenue over a three-month period. You can get customized VIP cards printed and manufactured here.
- Identify influencers at your clinic. Influencers are existing clients who have a large social media following. Tahl West Humes, owner of Vitahl Medical Aesthetics in Chicago explains that at her practice, several patients have been identified as influencers. She says, “For example, we have one that we treat as our local ‘mom-celeb.’ She talks about us at events with her friends, is open about the services she does, and posts on her social media when she comes in. We give her credit at the office to use towards services for herself and she does videos and posts when she uses those services.” In this way, existing clients who are influencers also provide invaluable video and photographic testimonials.
- Host an open house for clinic “members” or valued existing clients and offer them a plus one. The event you host should have more of a fun or educational focus than a sales focus: think an hour long presentation with an industry expert about a trending issue. Provide cocktails, canapes, and luxe goody bags that can be sponsored by a company you have a good rapport with. The better the event, the more your clients will brag to their friends about your clinic. Check out this example from Aya Med Spa.
7Satisfied existing clients are more open to trying new treatments and products.
Satisfied clients are also willing to try new or additional products and services, meaning your marketing costs will be less and you will find it easier to gain momentum. It is significantly easier to upsell products and services to existing customers than to those with whom you don’t have a relationship.
In Marketing Metrics, the authors divulge that the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. So how do you upsell to an existing customer? Upsell in the waiting room; it’s the ideal location to expose your existing clients to innovative new treatments.
- Forget side tables stacked with copies of InStyle magazine; instead, leave an iPad for patients to peruse. RxPhoto has built-in educational content and before and after galleries that powerfully convey the benefits of diverse aesthetic treatments. You can use the RxPhoto content, or add in your own clinic’s galleries and videos. Existing patients can become familiar with other treatments that may be beneficial or enhance their results.
- The staff at reception should undergo new procedures so they can discuss them knowledgeably, and from a perspective of experience. Friendly, communicative front desk staff can chat with existing customers in the waiting room, sharing their experiences and recommendations of treatments they’ve loved. If your existing clients already have a rapport with your front of house staff and trust them, they are much more likely to take their advice and try out what’s new.