Most of our clients love seeing all the online leads flowing into their practice, a direct result of their smart online marketing investments. But, to my continued amazement, now and again we have clients who find this constant stream of leads to be a hassle. The question I get from these practices: “Do I REALLY have to answer all these emails?”
My response: As you hit the delete button with the mouse in your right hand, you might as well set fire to a pile of cash with the left. For good measure, be rude to the people who call you on the phone too, just to ensure no one gets too interested in what your practice has to offer.
Of course, I’m being just a bit sarcastic. But every one of our clients must realize that “all these emails” you’re receiving are from people who:
- Have found your site and like what they’ve seen
- Have gone out of their way to get in touch with you
- Very likely live close to your practice
- Are interested in a consultation or trust your practice for insights and information
Why would you EVER want to turn a cold shoulder to a person like this? If this person is not likely to become a patient of the practice, who is?
Ignoring the email leads generated from your site is more than just a missed opportunity – you’re creating bad word of mouth and a negative impression. As the doctor, you’re in charge and you’re the one to blame. Your staff must understand the value of every inquiry and comprehend the long-term impact of disregarding emails.
eCustomer Service 101
It’s time to round up your staff for a heart-to-heart about the importance of your e-marketing investments and of providing exemplary service for all inquiries big and small. When you meet, answer these questions:
- What are we doing online?
Talk both about your online activities and your business goals. Explain that you are working to get in front of people who are searching for the services you offer in the market you serve. Consider talking openly about what the practice spent last year on marketing. Hearing the big numbers will help emphasize the importance of patient leads, wherever they come from.
- How do email inquiries impact the bottom line?
In theory you can attach a dollar value to every email inquiry. But in reality, these are living breathing patients. Talk about the cost to get people interested in the practice and the cost to your reputation when you fail to respond in a timely manner.
- What do we want from email?
The end goal of your response to every inquiry is the same: earn a consultation from the person when they are ready to take that step. Many people will use email to feel out the practice well before they are really ready for a consultation, and going the extra mile will help get your practice remembered down the road.
- Does what we say (or not say) matter in email?
As a group, read some of your recent replies to email inquiries. What do they say? More importantly, how do you think a patient will INTERPRET them? Does the message get through that you are good people, kind and thoughtful, here to help? Is it clear that your surgeon is experienced, accessible, and eager to meet for a consultation?
- What about the “bad emails” that just waste time?
SPAM aside, there are no bad emails. The Internet does expose you to more people, and more people who are at different stages of considering elective surgery. What a glorious opportunity to have. Today’s “general inquiry” or “price shopper” may be tomorrow’s consultation. At the very least they are a living breathing person who will form an opinion of your practice based on how you handle their emailand they will tell others!
- How do we get better at handling our emails?
Auto-responders are a great way to ensure that every inquiry is immediately recognized, and it buys you a few hours or even a day to respond. For common inquiries, create templates that can be easily personalized. For complex or sensitive questions, have a system in place to funnel those quickly to the right person in the office for follow-up.If we can help your staff with auto-responder configuration, template development and deployment, or SPAM control, just call your account manager.
You chose Etna Interactive as your Web marketing partner because you recognize that getting in touch with patients online is a smart way to grow your business. Now is the time to ensure every staff member also understands that engaging potential patients online is an instrumental part of making a positive impression and growing your practice in the months and years to come.