Customer retention is one of the most important success factors in running a cosmetic clinic – most treatments need maintenance and, as time goes by, people will want to try other treatments to stave off the signs of aging. This is one of the reasons why medical aesthetics is such a good business to be in; it is fundamentally about repeat treatments. However, it is often an overlooked part of the business, particularly in the early days when it is natural to get distracted by trying to attract new clients.
It is an oft quoted fact that it costs five times more to generate a new client than to retain an existing one. The tendency of dissatisfied customers to spread the word far more effectively than satisfied ones is also a well-known phenomenon and highlights the need to nip negative feedback in the bud by getting customers to tell you if they have a bad service experience, rather than broadcasting it to all and sundry.
The question is, in an increasingly competitive market with new clinics opening all the time, what can you do to make sure people come back to you for a treatment?
A distinct and branded image is crucial to creating and maintaining a market presence – your clients are more likely to stay loyal to you because you are clearly identifiable among your competitors. Take the time to research your competitors’ products, pricing strategy and any offers they may be running so that you can stay competitive and distinctive.
It is vital to establish your existing retention rates – patients coming back for repeat or new treatments. Maximising this base of patients who have already made that ‘big step’ into the clinic is crucial to your future success. A 60% retention rate is a recommended retention target to aim for. First, however, you must establish exactly which groups these patients belong to create an organised and clear approach.
Lapsed clients can be segmented into three categories:
Once you have segmented your lapsed client categories you will need to phone them up. This may feel daunting and uncomfortable and it is easy to find excuses to avoid making these calls, but they are great opportunities for relationship building and are invariably of excellent benefit for the future of the practice as opportunities to obtain useful feedback.
With this group you should always call back within two weeks of their consultation if you found them suitable for treatment. You have invested the time in the consultation and they are very likely to re-book. If they do not wish to re-book this is an opportunity to obtain feedback, be it positive or negative, (click here for information on providing effective consultations).
If a client is 2-6 weeks overdue a treatment as discussed during the initial consultation, a call to invite the client in for a check up is well worth the effort involved. They may not feel ready for another treatment, but equally they may drift to another clinic for their next treatment if they have not yet developed a loyalty to your clinic. It is likely that your phone call will make them feel valued, an important step towards becoming a loyal customer. Again, any insight you gain, positive or negative, is of great value and can help you to identify aspects of your service that need improving.
These clients are ‘old data’ and require a specific approach to tempt them back. You could offer complimentary treatments or products or a voucher towards their treatment.
It is important not to take negative feedback personally and to actively listen to customers / ex-customers.
The key is to hold onto clients and avoid losing them in the first place. Certainly with the post-consultation and overdue patient groups, it may simply be the case that they haven’t yet got around to making their next appointment and could be grateful for your call. But if you don’t make that call they may well fall into the ‘lost’ category of old data, which is more difficult to retrieve.
The easiest and most genuine way to earn repeat custom is to establish a strong bond with your client by really getting to know them. If you show a genuine interest in your clients as people, they are likely to feel a bond with you too. So long as the quality of your treatment matches their expectations, they may well become loyal clients for years to come and you will genuinely enjoy spending time with them too.
Improving your client retention can be not only cost-effective but rewarding too!