patient loyalty

Is patient loyalty enough?

Relying on patient loyalty is no longer enough to succeed in the current aesthetic market, says Kentucky-based plastic surgeon Dr M Bradley Calobrace.

Understanding consumer motivations, having the right staff on board and boosting your value offering are the necessary ingredients to make sure your clinic is ‘in it to win it’. According to US plastic surgeon Dr M Bradley Calobrace, consumers are now in the driver’s seat, and relying on patient loyalty is no longer enough to keep your practice successful in the current aesthetic market.

There is no doubt the marketplace has changed drastically in the past 20 years. Consumers today have easier access to more information, and are empowered with knowledge when it comes to deciding where and how they will have their cosmetic goals met. Because of this, loyalty to a brand – or a practice – is no longer inherent to the decision-making process.

This change in consumer behaviour is matched by increased competition in the industry, a reshuffling of the market leaders, and a decreased return on assets in general.

The solution to such a challenging outlook? Create a patient-centric practice and continually ask yourself the question: “What can I do for the patient?”

This might seem a straightforward, even obvious, statement. But, according to Dr Calobrace, there are a lot of factors involved in meeting the needs of modern- day consumers and ensuring your practice remains top of their minds when it comes to aesthetic education and action.

Understanding consumer motivators

The consumer motivators that made your practice successful 20 years ago – before the domination of the information age – are no longer applicable. These might have included the fact that you were a board-certified professional, with adequate accreditation and safety, established in your area and recommended by the patient’s personal doctor.

Twenty years ago, even five years ago, that might have been enough. Not any more.

Modern-day consumers are made of more substantial motivators. According to Dr Calobrace, they’re after added value in the form of:

  • Specialised services
  • A personalised approach
  • Flexible financing options
  • Concierge care
  • Expert medical skills

Make your practice a unique selling point

The aesthetics of your practice should reflect your sense of beauty and represent a unique selling point in the eyes of potential patients. Dr Calobrace suggests the clinic and its staff should embody the principles of relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal.

‘All-inclusive packages’ can be a viable option in attracting new patients and facilitating long-term relationships with existing patients. These packages are designed to boost value for money and afford a personalised, customisable approach – meeting the ‘concierge care’, ‘personalisation’ and ‘flexible finance’ criteria of modern-day consumer motivations.

For example, an Eyelid/Brow Lift Surgery Package at Dr Calobrace’s surgery looks like:

  • CaloSpa Tote
  • Post-operative care initial supplies
  • Swiss eye masks (x2)
  • Skincare consultations, with chemical eye peel
  • Hyaluronic Acid serum
  • Eye repair cream
  • Silicone eye patches (x12)
  • Post-operative hair wash and blow-dry
  • Post-operative chemical eye peel (2 months post-op)

Hire slowly, fire quickly

Staff can make or break a practice. Employees can be one of your greatest assets but, if you don’t have the right people on board, can unwittingly destroy everything you’ve worked for.

Leading your team to success involves having a clear value proposition that every employee understands and believes in. Creating a sense of purpose is also essential – the idea of “this is why we do what we do” creates loyalty and increases productivity.

Dr Calobrace recommends hiring on qualities, not abilities – each staff member must have the ability to handle information and master tasks. He also suggests creating ‘centres of excellence’ in-clinic where, instead of trying to be great at everything, you and your staff fulfil specific areas of focused expertise.

Demand excellence – all the time

There is nothing more important than great results. According to Dr Calobrace, no branding will ever replace excellence.

It’s important to critically evaluate your own patient outcomes and continue to improve upon them. Take part in educational forums and invest in educating both yourself and your staff to ensure all providers work at the highest level
of excellence.

Continue this education to your patients and wider community. Advertise with educational messages; embrace clinic retail as an opportunity for patient education; use digital information boards in your clinic’s waiting room; and call upon computer imaging (4D surgical imaging and skin imaging) in consultations.

Today’s level of professional competition has never been seen before in the aesthetic market. Consumers are more discerning than ever before, and relying on patient loyalty is no longer enough to keep your practice successful. By taking time to understand consumer motivations, having the right staff on board, demanding professional excellence and investing in ongoing education, you can create a patient-centric practice that will both attract and retain patients. According to Dr Calobrace, this is the key to taking your aesthetic practice to its fullest potential. AMP