Ghost enquiries? What are they and why do you get them?
You get an enquiry from your website contact form, you reply, then nothing…
Firstly, dealing directly with consumers is frustrating. If you’re in the business of offering any product or service to the general public then you need to grow a thick skin.
For a consumer facing clinic or practice the first point of contact from a new patient is via the website contact form. In most cases this will be connected to an email address which plops their message directly into your inbox.
It arrives in bold font, ripe and full of hope. Even for someone who has been in marketing for nearly 3 decades it still gives me a thrill. A new enquiry is what we’re here for after all. It’s someone reaching out across the ether and they’re wanting to do business with me! Hello, they’re saying, can I spend some money with you?
But we need to remain grounded, conscious of the realities of the internet. We need to remember that around 20% of all internet traffic is robots that are up to no good. Malicious code screaming around looking for weakness. It is thought that upwards of 35% of internet traffic is non human. A bit creepy when you think about it.
Your email is also on a list somewhere. This is inevitable if you put your email on the internet. It’ll be scraped and downloaded hundreds or thousands of times, compiled into a list that a disreputable scammer will use periodically to send you some annoying dross. It is thought that about 30% of all email traffic is spam.
So of the messages you get into your email inbox a hefty proportion of it is going to be garbage from an opportunistic robot or scam artist. That’s OK though because we know it comes with the territory. We know that in amongst all the junk there’s always a few nuggets. A few bona fide enquiries from real life, breathing, human clients. And this is where it can get frustrating.
What happens to the real humans?
The real genuine humans that contact you typically fall into 4 categories.
Patients do a lot of research. I’ve known some take years to move along the sales cycle from curious to booking up a procedure. These enquirers will want to talk about price, check out the experience of the surgeon, find out waiting times and generally ‘kick the tyres’ before they commit. They’re keen but not ready. These clients need to be logged into your database and assiduously followed up either via your internal diary or CRM system or via a newsletter. Ideally you’ll do both!
The Ready to Roll
These are usually at the end of their research period, they know what they want and they want to book an appointment. If you can’t seem them within a week then try having a Zoom / video chat within the next 24 hours. Get them hooked into you and your practice. With some clients payment can be a roadblock so make sure you have a credit facility or payment plan option available just in case. Remember to go back with prices & information quickly (within 24 hours) so they are in no doubt about the professionalism of your practice.
The Time Waster
Unfortunately it’s easy to click a ‘call me back’ button or fill out a short contact form. You may find that enquiries late at night might be from someone who is watching telly with a glass of wine in their hand and a tablet on their knee. In the cold light of day they might not want that surgical procedure that seemed like a good idea the night before.
Sometimes you will have an enquiry that just doesn’t reply to your emails or won’t pickup your calls. They vanish! Now this could be a Time Waster but it could equally be something a little more worrying. If your team isn’t answering your enquiries STRAIGHT AWAY away there is chance that your potential client has been snapped up by a faster moving competitor. Most people don’t like confrontation or awkward scenarios so if they have gone elsewhere it can often be a source of embarrassment to admit this. It’s far easier to ignore the email or block the phone number.
Remember that in private medicine you are in a competitive market. Answer your enquiries straight away and get your potential clients booked into the diary before your competitors do. If you can’t seem them in the next few days consider setting up a video introduction so that the client buys into you and not someone else
One of the best ways to increase patients to your practice is to make some small changes to how you currently do things.
We cover some great tips in this free 20 minute course (it’s also accredited with 1 CPD point)
6 Ways To Increase Patient Flow Without Spending Any Money
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