I was an early adopter of the iPhone 4 as my Nokia contract expired at the same time that the iPhone 4 was released and I decided to give it a go. At first I preferred my paper diary but once I had acclimatised to iCal, news, email, weather and train times on a phone I never looked back. The iPhone became my work organiser and I love it.
Twenty months later, and for no apparent reason the iPhone screen resembled an analogue TV set in a digital TV area. Naturally I took it back to the supplier I bought if from – Vodafone. The salesman said “Well sir I’m afraid you will have to buy a new one for more than £500, or alternatively buy low cost smartphone until your contract runs out and you can upgrade”.
Like all iPhone enthusiasts I am eagerly awaiting the iPhone 5 and so didn’t want to buy a new iPhone 4 just now, as I know that if I did, the latest iPhone would be released the very next day.
There is an Apple store in the same Brighton mall as the Vodafone one, so I decided to pop in to see if they could repair it.
“Hi I’d like to see an Apple Genius about my broken iPhone” I said, “sure” the guy on the door said “can you wait a quarter of an hour?”
The Genius took my phone behind the scenes for 10 minutes and when he returned he said “the screen connection seems to be faulty, we’ll give you a new phone”. “Free?” I said, “yes” he said and I walked out of the door with a brand new iPhone4 and a big smile. I bored the taxi driver all the way home about the wonderfulness of Apple customer service.Since then I must have told at least 10 people about my experience. In the telling it transpired that my dog sitter had a similar good experience, albeit for a less expensive item. My (usually) well-behaved dog Seamus had chewed her iPod earphones and rendered them useless. She took them to the self-same Apple store, she said “hello the dog has chewed my earphones, can you fix them?”, the Genius replied “no need we will give you a new pair” and promptly did so. She also walked out with a smile and a positive tale to tell.
Word of mouth advocacy
This started me thinking about the power of advocacy or word of mouth recommendations. Most of our members gain about 50% of their new patients by WOM with the rest coming from marketing or passers by. But if advocacy was encouraged, more new patients could be attracted to the practice.
WOM is now also WOSM (word of Social Media), which is patients talking about you on Facebook, twitter, LindkeIn etc. or leaving positive feedback on websites or forums. The influence of social media is increasing. See below for more information about this and our latest seminar.
But what can you do to increase advocacy now?
- Exceed patient expectations – engender realistic expectations and over deliver
- Treat each patient as if they were a guest in your own home and train your staff to do the same
- Welcome each patient to the practice
- Thank patients for choosing or continuing to choose the practice
- At the end of treatment thank each patient for having treatment at the practice and tell them that you look forward to welcoming them back next time
- Tell your patients that you would be pleased to see any of their friends, acquaintances or family members at the practice and and hand them a recommendation card
- Surprise patients with a gift such as a tooth-brush or tooth paste (these can usually be sourced from the manufactures at little or no cost)
- Send birthday cards to your patients
- Keep in regular contact through quarterly patient newsletters by email or post
- Give back to your local community e.g. health campaigns such as teaching schoolchildren about oral hygiene or running charity events with the practice team
CODE Academy is running a Social Media conference this September in London.
Social media is being used by our patients more and more to help them communicate with each other and find new products and services. Find out how and why joining in conversations in the social media space really can benefit your practice. Learn how you can make Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ work for you and your team. The seminar will be held in London on the 28th September 2012. Only £142.50 to members and £190 for non-members. Click here to read more and book.