Communicating with Patients IS Marketing

Posted on October 6, 2021 by Miles Bodzin, DC

This original article was featured in the October 2021 issue of The American Chiropractor 

You have probably read dozens of articles and listened to hundreds of talks on the topic of marketing. You can spend hundreds of dollars on creating the best funnel for your social media marketing and spend hours taking courses that teach you how to become a marketing master. 

However, I’m going to give you a different approach. Focus on strengthening your communication skills and look at that as marketing. This isn’t something that is shiny with tons of bells and whistles. It’s a practical approach that is by no means meant to replace marketing tools you may be using that are working. 

Let’s say you are implementing an amazing marketing strategy and it’s making that phone ring. The potential patient is excited and motivated to pick up the phone and book an appointment in your office. They call and your CA answers the phone and sounds like she is about to fall asleep or would rather be doing anything else. Maybe she is just distracted and it’s evident in her voice? Talk about a buzzkill for the patient. 

Now, I know a lot of you may be reading that and may think that’s something your CA would never do. As someone that has a company that speaks to hundreds of chiropractic offices a month, I can assure you that it’s more common than not. It may not be as extreme as that. It may simply be they speak so fast when answering that you can’t even understand them, it may be they answer the phone with an unexcited tone saying “Dr. ‘s Office” and that’s it. Maybe they don’t know how to effectively convey empathy and confidence that makes the patient feel like they are calling the right place. 

Building rapport, trust and hope on that first call (and every call after that) is what can convince a patient to choose  your office over another. That’s marketing! 

Related: How to Achieve Data-Driven Marketing

When it comes to phone calls, we have a standard script that we train on constantly. There is a known, set standard to be smiling and energetic on the phone. “Thank you for calling the Chiropractic Wellness Center! This is Amber, how can I help you?”. We have gone so far as to have a mirror right by the phone for them to smile into. 

We role-play different scenarios during team meetings and are constantly training on phone etiquette. I guarantee that focusing on phone communication skills will set you apart from others. You can call my company, Cash Practice Systems any day and I can assure you that our team will answer the phone smiling and with a happy to help attitude. This is a non-negotiable requirement for our employees.

It’s not just phone communication but every interaction with our patients that we train on. This may not seem like an obvious form of marketing but table talk is definitely marketing! Making those quick interactions meaningful  and positive with our patients is just as important. 

Now here is a small but mighty lesson I learned and that’s to train your team to NOT greet patients with “how are you?” when they walk in. This may seem weird but have you ever had a patient in your reception room be asked “how are you?” and then go on and on about what a terrible day they had? Or what if that person is having a flair up or got injured over the weekend and they are complaining about how much pain they are in? What does this do to the other people in your waiting room, especially a room that may have a new patient? It brings down the energy and hurts the environment.  

Instead, we say things like “Hey John, so good to see you!”, “Hello Susie, happy Tuesday!” etc… Now of course we care how the patient is doing. However, asking “how are you?” is generic and we expect the person to just say “Great” even if they aren’t, which isn’t very sincere, or we are inviting them to unload a bad day on us which we don’t want in our lobby. 

The next aspect of communication as marketing was another one of the BIG ones to me in my practice and that’s asking for referrals. My ideal patient was someone that was referred by an existing patient because they already have been given the lowdown on my practice and structure from their loved one and I didn’t have to sit outside for 6 hours at a screening on a Saturday to meet them. It truly is one of the best compliments we can be given. 

Knowing when and how to ask for the referral is something that we train on constantly as well. One of the best times to ask for a referral is when a patient compliments your practice or shares with you how much they enjoy being a patient. However, we know that accepting a compliment can be awkward. Turning it into asking for a referral is even more of an art. 

We train first on accepting the compliment. “Thank you so much for sharing this Jane. We love to help people and it brings us joy to hear you are loving your experience”. If you feel it’s appropriate to follow up with asking for a referral, “I would love to work with more people like you – can you think of anyone that you know that may benefit from Chiropractic?”. We also have messages displayed on our email receipts or tv screens that say things like “The highest compliment you can give us is the referral of your family and friends”. 

I am also a big fan of having a massage program as a new patient generator. Having a massage therapist that is trained in communicating the value of chiropractic to their clients and referring them to the doctor is a form of marketing that doesn’t cost you money -in fact it brings in revenue. 

Lastly, I cannot stress enough the importance of frequent contact with your patients. Marketing to your existing patient list with frequent emails will help your active patients be engaged and will keep you at the top of mind awareness for those that may not be active anymore. The power of an occasional email educating your newly enrolled patients on the benefits of chiropractic care reinforces the message and helps to build loyal patients. Marketing to infrequent patients to come back in is a great way to do recalls. 

I hope this article has given you a different perspective when thinking of marketing. You may have noticed a common action I mention and that is the act of frequent training. Effective communication is a skill that constantly needs to be honed and practiced. Role playing these interactions with patients may feel awkward, but it pays off in the end. Solidifying your communication as a marketing skill will vastly impact all areas of your marketing.

Check out our other articles!

About the Author

Dr. Miles Bodzin, esteemed in chiropractic care, leads Cash Practice Systems as its Founder and CEO, dedicated to enhancing revenue and retention rates in the chiropractic community. His platform offers tools like The Wellness Score, Care Plan Calculator, Auto-Debit, and Drip-Education Systems, empowering practitioners for better patient retention and profitability. With extensive experience, Dr. Bodzin's leadership has made Cash Practice Systems the top choice for optimizing chiropractic practices. Before his CEO role, he ran a thriving practice in San Diego for nearly two decades, alongside his Chief Operations Officer, Holly Jensen, emphasizing high retention rates and patient well-being. Together, they've dedicated over two decades to advancing chiropractic care, inspiring practitioners worldwide. Explore for transformative tools.

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