The Key to Boosting Word-Of-Mouth Referrals in Physical Therapy

Whether you know it or not, you are a customer evangelist. Every day, you tell others which cell phone to buy, which car to drive, and what restaurant to eat at. And if you’re anything like me, you make these recommendations with passion, honesty, and sincerity.

Customer evangelists purchase and (more importantly) *believe in *a product. They passionately recommend a business to friends & family and provide unsolicited feedback or praise. Most importantly, customer evangelists cannot be bought. In fact, it’s actually counterproductive to provide these individuals with monetary incentives… they’re looking to sing your praises pro bono.1

Customer evangelists represent a huge growth opportunity for any business. But for businesses such as physical therapy, where your potential customer pool resides in a finite geographical area, they wield even more power.

We’re living in a world where 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth over any other type of marketing2, and where word-of-mouth is the primary driver of 20-50% of purchasing decisions3.

It’s pretty plain to see that customer evangelists are the oil that keeps the word-of-mouth engine running. And with the progression of Direct Access coupled with growing consumer choice in their healthcare decisions, word-of-mouth referrals are becoming more and more important to the long-term sustainability of PT clinics.   To put it bluntly, it’s no longer an option to sit back and hope that word-of-mouth referrals just magically happen.

Instead, it’s worth your time to implement a measurable process that:

  • Increases the number of customer evangelists at your clinic, and
  • Builds the word-of-mouth networks that make it easy for your customers to spread the word.

Here are a couple simple, actionable steps that you can take today to start measuring and improving upon your baseline:

1) Gather as Much Customer Feedback as Possible

Everyone should be running a standard patient satisfaction survey. These serve to give a global view of your patients’ perceptions of the various aspects of their care (from the parking situation to their relationship with their PT).

But I believe you should take it one step further, and make an effort to understand exactly who your patient evangelists are. You can do this by utilizing a few different tools, my favorite of which is the Net Promoter Score.

You can combine these tools, along with qualitative feedback, to make small changes to your patient care philosophy and improve the patient experience. Perhaps most importantly, using NPS scores allows you to pinpoint who your customer evangelists are and determine what percentage of your global population are promoters of your brand.

2) Build Word-of-Mouth Networks

If you know who your promoters are, the next step is to make it easy for them to actually do the word-of-mouth marketing that they are ready & willing to do!

Share relevant and engaging content with them, suggest that they share their experience on Google+ or Yelp, have them complete a testimonial or make sure that they fully understand direct access in your state (enough to accurately relay the information to a friend). And most importantly, tactfully ask them if they know anyone that would benefit from coming to your clinic.

Obviously, these are not tasks that you would ask your average customer to complete. But, your customer evangelists are a volunteer sales force waiting to do the selling for you, and represent a path to truly self-sustainable growth.

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If you’re interested in learning more about how StriveHub Reach is helping clinics across the country automate their marketing and increase word-of-mouth referrals, check out the StriveHub Reach page and feel free to sign up for a demo!

References

1) CREATING CUSTOMER EVANGELISTS (Book). Gold, Sarah F.; Chenoweth, Emily; Zaleski, Jeff // Publishers Weekly

2) http://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlywhitler/2014/07/17/why-word-of-mouth-marketing-is-the-most-important-social-media/

3) http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/marketingsales/anewwaytomeasureword-of-mouth_marketing

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, alexsl

Ryan Klepps



Physical Therapist, Membership Chair of APTA of MA, COO & Co-Founder of Strive Labs, Inc.

Somerville, MA http://strivehub.com