We seem to have problems scheduling new patients who price shop. Any hints or tips you might have on how to approach these potential patients and get them scheduled?
Customers who buy anything based solely on price often have nothing else to go by. In other words, if a prospective patient calls your front desk and asks how much the first visit costs and is told "(enter price) plus necessary X-rays" there is little else the prospective patient can go on other than price.
This turns your care into a commodity. Which is how an insurance company sees it. As in an-adjustment-is-an-adjustment-is-an-adjustment.
If that's the vibe a prospective new patient gets when calling your practice, then no wonder they're simply looking for the lowest bidder.
Which is why these days to be successful at the front desk you need to be part hostess, part traffic cop, part counselor, part accountant and part sales closer. Finding one person that embodies all these qualities borders on unlikely to impossible.
However, here are some ideas that could improve the odds.
1. Price shoppers aren't bad people. Price shoppers are often responsible people who are merely doing their due diligence. Only those with the intent to stiff you or assume their insurance will cover everything are oblivious to your fees. Price shoppers may already know they have a high deductible to fulfill and are attempting to establish the extent of their financial liability. The key is not to be disdainful of those asking for your prices.
2. Offer a range. One way to satisfy a caller's curiosity is to provide a range of fees. "Our first visit fees range anywhere from $000 to $000 based on your particular problem, whether we need to take pictures of your spine and what the doctor discovers during your examination. This is comparable with other practices in the area and your out of pocket amount may be lower based on any insurance you may have."
3. Provide differentiation. If you don't wish to be pigeonholed based on price, then whoever is fielding calls must volunteer information that would separate your practice from others. This is part of a much larger conversation about marketing and positioning your practice so as to stand out from the crowd. Differentiators might include your 36 years of serving the community, your low force technique, the fact that area chiropractors see you for their care, that you've helped over 10,000 patients, etc. Find a way to differentiate your practice that will trump mere price.
4. Have a menu of choices. These days you must be more creative than simply being in network with as many carriers as possible. It means you'll want to have the flexibility of being part of a medical discount plan such as ChiroHealthUSA. You'll want to be ready to offer Care Credit or something similar. "The doctor is committed to helping everyone who wants better health. We have a lot of ways to make our care affordable and I've never known her to turn anyone away because of their inability to pay our published fees."
5. Offer an Internet special. Like it or not, if we're ready to make a purchase, a sale price or special offer can be just the nudge we need to take the leap. Consider equipping your front desk team with the flexibility to offer a discretionary discount to help get someone over the line. Granted, this is Salesmanship 101 but it can be effective. That could mean a $25 savings on the exam, complimentary X-rays or some other limited time discount.
6. Field financial questions on your website. It's breathtaking how few practice websites discuss the financial implications of the care they offer. That's like going to a restaurant without prices on the menu. Sidestepping this forces your front desk into hand-to-hand combat and some heavy lifting while juggling other front desk duties. Get this right and prospective new patients can be prequalified before even calling your practice.
7. Are you too expensive? Here's a long shot that should at least be mentioned. If your front desk staff believes you're too expensive, couldn't themselves afford the care you typically recommend or some other financial peccadillo, you can be sure patients on the phone will take the hint: stay away. Make sure your team isn't projecting their own financial belief system onto patients.
Long gone are the days in which the front desk was merely an order taker, asking callers whether they preferred a morning or afternoon appointment. Coaxing a prospective new patient to commit is a valuable skill. It's worth investing in sufficient training and conducting regular role-playing exercises to optimize results.
"This call may be monitored or recorded for training and quality assurance purposes."
Countless new patients are being lost at the front desk. Not on purpose of course. But lost nonetheless.
Thanks for the question!