Episode 3

Turning Your Patients into Super-fans

Raintree’s Director of Digital Marketing, Cameron DeJong, joins Allison to nerd out on their favorite topic: Marketing! We specifically discuss ways to retain employees and patients and turn them into SUPER-FANS of your practice! Some of what we talk about: How to define a super-fan Why super-fandom is important Actionables that you can use to turn your patients into super-fans
Published on 04/20/23
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Episode Transcript

Allison Jones: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, and welcome to the Therapy Matters podcast, your one-stop resource for expert insights and advice on everything therapy and rehab. I’m your host, Alison Jones, and today I’m joined by Cameron DeJong, Digital marketing guru, as well as our very own director of digital marketing at Raintree. Cam, thank you for joining us . 

Cameron DeJong: Thank you so much Allison. I’m glad to be here and glad to be part of this amazing podcast. 

Allison Jones: We’re thrilled to have you with us. So why don’t you just take a minute and introduce yourself and tell the audience a little bit about who you are and give them a little bit of information on your background and your credentials.

Cameron DeJong: Sure, thank you. So I’ve been working at Raintree since last June, but prior to that I’ve worked in the medical B2B marketing field since 2015. And in addition to that, and where a lot of what we’re gonna talk about today comes from is my work in the B2C industry and another industry outside of healthcare. So being able to bridge the gap of B2C marketing and B2B marketing is something that I’ve developed over the years and look forward to bringing to light today and of course contributing that towards the success as we grow at Raintree. 

Allison Jones: Excellent. So today’s topic is all about the importance of marketing and leveraging marketing in therapy practice. It’s one of our favorite things to talk about, coming from the marketing side. And when we were brainstorming ideas in our prep session, there was a lot of things that we threw out. We talked about advertising, we talked about email marketing, we talked about blogging, reputation management, so on and so forth. Frankly, we could talk about marketing for hours, it’s what we do all day, but ultimately where we ended up was turning your patients into super fans, and that’s what we’re gonna focus on today. And there’s a lot to dig into with this topic, and I don’t wanna waste too much time, so let’s dive in. First question for you, what does it mean to turn a patient into a super fan? 

Cameron DeJong: Great question. And the overall meaning of that is that you want your patients, you want your clients, you want your customers to not just love you as a patient and want to come back and want to continue to see you. You want them to go to the top of the tallest rooftop and tell everybody they know that you, your practice, your organization is the best place they’ve ever been because of the environment they’ve taken part in and so on. You just want them to be raving about you. So what you’re looking to do is create raving fans that are just your super fans, your superheroes that represent you and your brand and make you proud because they are proud of being your patient. 

Allison Jones: Why is that valuable? 

Cameron DeJong: The value really comes in many places. The first one I think of when it relates to patients and having them as superfans is they’re going to show up for their appointments, it seems very basic, but it’s not. Your appointment cancellation rate will go down because they feel a commitment to you. And when they feel that commitment to you, they’re going to show up early for their appointment or on time, which is great. They’re going to talk to friends and family about their wonderful experience and what they’re able to gain from being a patient. So you’ll be able to potentially gain more patients from it. So that’s a one-two punch right there, that is extremely right off the bat, very exciting to be able to get from someone that becomes a super fan.

Allison Jones: So you said something, either they’ll show up early or they’ll show up on time for their appointment. And when we were talking about this during our prep session, you were talking about sort of a personal experience you have at a physical therapy appointment that you were going to where a patient had shown up 15 minutes late for their appointment. And we were talking about sort the impact that that has on a practice’s schedule. So if that patient shows up 15 minutes, it throws off the entire schedule and that has a compounding effect on the rest of the patients that that practice is seeing for the rest of the day; it’s gonna throw it off. And potentially it’s going to maybe impact and have one of those patients not be able to be seen that day, and that has a revenue impact on that practice. So making sure that people are showing up on time or early for their appointments is such an important thing for your revenue stream. Which is, as we know nowadays where reimbursements are getting squished so much more, critically important that you’re maintaining that schedule, you’re filling your schedule, and making sure things are going according to plan. So how do you do it? How do you turn your patient population into super fans? 

Cameron DeJong: Well going back to where I was in B2C at Verizon, there is a strong alignment to a customer walking into a retail location and a patient walking into a physical therapy or therapy practice. You have to make them feel valued from the moment they walk in the door. And that, at the example in my past life, we differentiated ourselves and had one of the highest net promoter scores in the region because we welcomed people with open arms. We made them feel comfortable, we offered them snacks and water. Now think about that, if you go into a cell phone store, you’re not getting offered snacks and water when you go in to get your cell phone upgrade. But we did those things and it, and people started referring folks in and so on and so forth. So when we fast forward to where I’m going for my physical therapy, the writing was on the wall, literally. You earn points by showing up for your appointments, you earn points by performing exercises at home. If you show up for your third appointment, you get a T-shirt. And if the patients of the practice get a certain number of cumulative points over a week, the staff gets to wear their t-shirts on Friday.

I mean, that’s amazing. You think about that and people get into that because one thing that’s important to note is not everybody wants their picture on the wall. Not every client, not every patient wants to be posted on social media, but some do, and you have to take consideration of that as well. But for those that are on the armchair quarterbacks, they’re gonna still talk about you, they’re still gonna refer you. They want to see the staff wearing a t-shirts on Friday. So this practice is covering so many bases that it’s absolutely amazing, and I can see why, they’re doing well and why their marketing is so strong. So there’s that for sure.  

Allison Jones: And then that patient’s leaving with that t-shirt. And they’re potentially wearing that t-shirt when they’re going grocery shopping, when they’re going to maybe their child’s baseball game and they’re seeing that T-shirt and maybe there’s a referral coming out of that. And that’s really inexpensive marketing dollars to be spent there. So that’s a pretty ingenious way of spreading your word through your patient base. And with the other, you said that the staff gets to wear their t-shirt if their patients accumulate a certain number of points.

Cameron DeJong: Exactly. So it definitely covers the bases of being able to make every. personality type of patients happy, those that wanna wear the t-shirts themselves or those that wanna see the staff happy or both. 

Allison Jones: So you’re also keeping your staff happy and incented.

Cameron DeJong: Exactly. And they’re more likely to spread the marketing word and more likely to spread the idea of accumulating points and showing up for your appointments and so on and so forth. So it’s an all-in-one idea. And it works really well from what I can see and it would really benefit them to imitate, I mean imitation’s the best form of flattery, so I’d say take those tips and you’ll see that they work. 

Allison Jones: So let’s go to the opposite way, what have you seen that doesn’t work to create a super fan? 

Cameron DeJong: I think it goes back to the different personality types of your patients and of your clients. If you have a one size fits all approach to your marketing that if you do X, Y, or Z, we’ll put your picture on social media, we’ll put you up on the newspaper, we’ll do this or that, you’re gonna alienate a majority of your base right there because they’re not gonna be interested in that. So that fails out of the gate. You’re gonna have a handful of vocal people that would love to have that, but the majority of folks won’t, that’s not the kind of marketing they’re looking for. And what you wanna do is you want, in whatever you’re doing, make sure that it encompasses as many patients as it can to encourage them to take part in the program. So again, just that alienation right off the bat can be something that can have a reverse effect. Or in many cases, if someone feels uncomfortable, they might not come back to the practice. If they come in and say, oh goodness, if I do as I’m expected and do my exercises, they’re gonna put my picture on the wall. Well, there’s another therapy practice right down the road I can go to. And that may sound extreme, but that’s the psychology of people, they think like that.

You better believe when I was at the therapy practice that I was looking at these things and thinking inward and outward. You know, what could be a negative of this? And thankfully I didn’t see any, which is why we’re talking about it. They’ve done it right. But I could have found something maybe at a different practice and that could have backfired possibly.

Allison Jones: So, Cameron, you mentioned NPS as sort of a measure of satisfaction and the importance of having a high NPS score. How can practices measure that with their patients or understand that more with their patient base? 

Cameron DeJong: That’s a great question because NPS is one of the better surveying tools that’s available because it gives you a real, true, testament to where patients stand. The top EMRs are going to have that as part of their system, so when you look at your EMR, It should be something that’s a feature that’s built into it. So looking at that and having that capability to have automated NPS survey sent out to your patients after their visits are at different times. You know, if a patient hasn’t been in for a while, you might wanna do a pulse check NPS and say okay, they haven’t been here for a while. And NPS is a kind of an innocent way to find out if they might have gone somewhere else.

So when you look at NPS, you have a score of 0 to 10, and you are always looking to get 9 or 10s. But let’s say you have that patient that gives you an a 7 or an 8, which is okay, that’s okay, but there’s work to be done. But then they start not showing up or they don’t come back and you know they should be coming back and so on. And then you send them a follow up NPS and it could be automated, it could be automated through your EMR or it could be otherwise administered. And they respond with a 5 and so you know based on your past that something happened after that last NPS that requires a little bit of intervention there. So that’s just one example of many of what you can do with NPS. And of course on the flip side, you want to celebrate the wins with NPS. So if you get that seven or an eight and it’s that patient that never gives the 9s or 10s, and then they get their T-shirt, and then they say okay, great, you know what, you’re a nine now. So ongoing surveying is just as important, but NPS is very powerful in that sense because it can really give you snapshots of where your practice is and where it’s been and where it’s going. So there’s a lot to be said for it. 

Allison Jones: Now with those NPS surveys, when you get those 9s and 10s, you can also leverage that to then reach out to those folks after and maybe ask them for a review. And maybe send them a link to your Google page and get them to post something on your Google Review page, which is then searched by future patients. So that’s an opportunity too, which a lot of the EMR systems also have, reputation management built in there too. So that’s a great opportunity and sort of future marketing channels as well. Good opportunity there.

Cameron DeJong: Absolutely. And there are systems automations that you can do that as soon as they give you that 9 or a 10, it sends them to Google to leave that review and it just builds, it’s that domino effect. Or it’s a domino effect of excellence that continues to move forward for your practice. 

Allison Jones: So we never want the detractors to come in, those ones, twos, threes. What do you do when you have detractors come in, or what should practices do as a best practice? 

Cameron DeJong: Organizations of any kind, whether it’s physical therapy or anywhere, the most important folks you can reach out to are your promoters and your detractors. And that is a phone call first, and I can speak from past experience that detractors you called within one business day, and you try to get behind them and find out what it was that was going on that caused that experience. And a lot of times you’ll find that detractors can be moved to passive very quickly if they get that contact because they’re not expecting to be contacted when something happens. And I like to believe that I’m a good person, but I have detractors, you know, there’s somebody in this world that would probably give me a six, but I would want to find out why, and I’d want to steer them towards a 7 or an 8. So I can speak from experience that if you get those detractors, especially those zeros, those 1s, those 2s, those 3s, get in touch with them because they’re not expecting that. And when you do what’s not expected, you can more likely move them to passive. And then once you’ve moved them to passive, you can of course nurture them upwards. 

So it’s a nurturing process for sure, but as I mentioned, it’s also important that those promoters are given props too, for giving you that score and find out why. What was it? Because a lot of times they’ll just leave a score. A lot of people will just leave a score 9 or 10, they won’t leave comments. And if they leave comments, that’s great, that gives you something to talk about, gives you the ability to know what to talk about. However, if they don’t give you the comments, that’s so important to find out what it was and be able to take that and duplicate it and make it part of your marketing program going forward to get those other folks on board from passive to promoter and from detractor to passive. It’s moving everybody up one scale at a time. The only thing you don’t want is your promoters going backwards, so that’s certainly important as well to make sure that they’re remaining happy.

Allison Jones: Right. And then by having those conversations, you get those insights and you can create an action plan. So if you have detractors, why, right? And then create an action plan internally. If there’s a particular reason why they’re detracting, is it because,of something that a particular therapist has done, or it’s because you’re constantly late on an appointment because something is happening in your scheduling or it could be a really easy thing that you can fix. You fix it, problem solved, and you no longer have those detractors. Or it could be a really major issue that you have to address. But you have that information and then you can solve that problem and then you remove that issue. And then again, as Cam is saying, you’re slowly moving up the scale and then your NPS is moving up and up. And you wanna get into those positive numbers and then have delighted customers, and then those delighted customers turn into superfans, which is what we all want. Now I know you’ve had great experience at sort of this physical therapy practice. Have you had any sort of negative patient experiences that can help demonstrate this? Like this is something that you definitely don’t wanna do that can help, bring this to light. 

Cameron DeJong: Absolutely, outside of physical therapy, and I think this happens a lot more in medical anyhow because of the drive towards upsells and so on. And I can speak to a former doctor of mine, when I went to the office, 15 minutes early is on time for me at appointments. Sometimes five minutes is early, but I do tend to be early for appointments and a number of other patients that time were coming in late and so on. And I happened to be called ahead of one patient that came in after me because they were late and it caused a little bit of a ruckus. And that’s okay, but they didn’t know how to handle it and that was a problem in and of itself. But it was compounded by the fact that when you get in there and you see how they are marketing to their current patients. They’re marketing things that are obviously upsell opportunities for them. You have to be discreet about your upsells. If you’re trying to sell the diet add-on to a medical visit, for example, it shouldn’t be so obvious that okay, they’re just trying to sell me on something. 

I think, again, going back to the therapy practice, where they do it so well is obviously they’re looking to get more visits. Obviously they want the patients to come back more. It’s obvious that they want them to wear the t-shirt out in public and show everybody the name of the therapy practice on the t-shirt and to spread the word at the baseball game in the unfortunate event that someone gets hurt. It’s obvious, but it’s not over the top, and it’s it’s not an unnecessary upsell. It’s like trying to sell ice to an Eskimo for a good example, it’s just not gonna happen. So you have to be so careful with it and it just compounds to that point at the beginning, it compounds. The obvious mistake in marketing as it was there compounds into patients being late. And then when they’re late they’re like, I know I was late, but I should have been seen first. So you set that expectation, you set up a negative experience for everybody. And that’s unfortunate, that’s something that certainly has to be washed out because that domino effect is just as bad as the domino effect as good marketing can be.

Allison Jones: So really aligning it with value add for for the patient. 

Cameron DeJong: Yes, absolutely. 

Allison Jones: Yeah, I mean that’s true in any marketing. 

Cameron DeJong: Yes. 

Allison Jones: Okay, so what are some main takeaways for our listeners today? 

Cameron DeJong: To me, the main takeaway is when you think of your marketing stack and you think of your marketing programs, think about as many patients as you can. You want to start by thinking of a hundred percent of your patient base. You’re never going to market acceptably to a hundred percent of your patients. However, if you think like you can, then you can just backtrack from there. If you start with 1% and go up, you’re gonna end it under 50%, but if you start at a hundred percent and go backwards, you’re more likely to land at 75%. And think about what is it that would be appealing to them that they would be interested in doing, and trying to be able to promote themselves as patient but also promote your practice. But first and foremost, they have to be proud of being a patient at your practice. They have to be proud of coming in. And the great thing about the therapy space, the physical therapy, occupational speech, et cetera, therapy space, is that patients are proud of it because they love the results that they get when they go to the therapist. They love the exercises, they love their practitioners, they love that. 

So that makes it easy. But being able to track that towards different milestones, whether it’s points, whether it’s showing up on time, whether it’s being early, anything like that. And getting incentivized in a sense where they’re proud of what they’re wearing or proud of what they’re doing to get the staff to wear it. Think about what makes everybody proud and then think about the staff because that goes back to the point that Allison had brought up about the staff wearing the t-shirts and they love that. And if they buy into it, they’re more likely to talk about these things with the patients when they come in versus reading it online or reading it on social media, they come in and say hey, by the way, you’re on your second visit. Once you get to your third visit, you get this t-shirt and they’re excited, because they want the points. So you make it an all in effort where the team and the patients are all involved in the marketing. 

Allison Jones: So how can people connect with you if they wanna learn a little bit more? 

Cameron DeJong: So if anybody wants to connect with me, would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. You can just look up my name on there, there’s only a few of us, so it’d be very easy and straightforward to do so. I’m glad to connect and always glad to talk marketing or anything around that field, so thank you so much. 

Allison Jones: Excellent. Well thank you for joining us today Cameron, we really appreciate it. Love talking about marketing, we could do this for hours. We’ll sure to have you back and talk a little bit more marketing on the future Therapy Matters podcast. But for now, that is our episode and we thank everybody for tuning in to our Therapy Matters podcast, your one stop resource for expert insights and advice on everything therapy and rehab. We look forward to seeing you the next episode.

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