Patient referrals are a valuable commodity in the world of healthcare. A patient’s recommendation to a family member or friend is like one of Willy Wonka’s golden tickets - rare and highly coveted. But many practitioners and their staff find it uncomfortable to ask patients for referrals.
How and when you ask for a patient referral is up to you, but there are certainly some times that are better than others. Using the three tips below, you and your staff can learn to ask your patients to recommend friends and family without making them feel pressured or awkward.
1 - Ask Those You Know and Like: Every practice has at least a few patients who’ve been with them a long time, and with whom they’ve developed a great rapport. These patients have remained loyal because they value the care they receive from you. This makes them perfect candidates to approach about referring their friends and family members to your practice.
You can introduce the topic by saying you wish you had more patients like this person, and mentioning that you’d love to help their family and friends if they are looking for a provider like you. Without asking in a high-pressure way, you’ve made your patient aware that you’d like them to refer others to you.
2 - Accepting Compliments: When a patient has a good experience and offers praise or thanks, the natural consequence is that he or she will share their story with others. When the patient thanks you, accept the praise graciously and encourage them to share their experience with others by way of a referral. You can even make light of it a bit. “When your friends tell you how bad their experience was, you can send them my way.” The light-hearted approach removes the pressure, but you can be sure their positive story will spread your name to others.
3 - Follow a Script: Listen for your patient to open the door, then politely step inside. Here is a sample script you can follow, but feel free to alter it to suit your own style:
Patient: I really love your office. Your staff is so helpful and friendly.
You (acknowledge the compliment) : Thank you! I’m very proud of the great team we have. (provide a quality statement): It’s part of our goal to provide a positive experience for patients like you who appreciate what we do here. (make a transition statement): Not everyone has a positive experience like this with their healthcare providers. (ask for the referral): If you have any family members or friends who might appreciate the same experience you’ve had, we would love for you to recommend them to us. We would really enjoy showing them the same kind of service you’ve had.
And there you have it! Three simple approaches that will make asking for - and getting - patient referrals that much easier!
For more ideas on patient acquisition and referrals, click here!