Posted by Naomi Nessim, September 06, 2018 (last updated on November 28, 2018)
The uptick in convenient care, increasing patient payment responsibility, millennials demanding things from healthcare that no generation before them has — all of these trends are cumulating, making it imperative for urgent care centers to pay attention to what makes patients come to their center and, just as importantly, what makes them stay. The reality is that healthcare consumers have more choices about where to seek care than ever before, including between urgent care centers.
For this reason, boosting patient loyalty should be at the forefront of urgent care center operators minds. With an intentional focus on what consumers are looking for from healthcare and, more specifically, convenient care, it’s possible to create a loyal customer base that rivals any consumer-focused brand with a cult-like following.
Below, learn about a consumer fitness brand and how your urgent care center can follow their lead in creating customer loyalty, so your patients come back every time they need care.
SoulCycle: More Than a Workout
If you’ve ever stepped foot inside a SoulCycle studio, you know that the brand is not just selling a workout. They are selling an experience, a community, and something else that can’t be so easily defined — the feeling participants get when they take a class. Some would call it the best workout they’ve ever had, some would call it a spiritual journey; SoulCycle instructors are not only trained in fitness and cycling, they’re also taught to engage customers in a way that makes the class feel like part workout, part life coaching. Despite the $30-35 each participant pays per 45-minute class, SoulCycle has managed to build a customer base that extends far beyond “loyal.” The people who shell out the hefty fee for a class are die-hard fans. They don’t mind paying because what they get from each class feels worth more than what they pay.
What can urgent care centers learn about patient loyalty from SoulCycle?
You may be wondering what a boutique fitness company can teach an urgent care center about customer loyalty. The answer? A lot. While other gyms offering cycling classes have failed miserably (read: haven’t managed to maintain customer loyalty, often resulting in bankruptcy), SoulCycle has continued to grow — both their customer base and their bottom line. Here’s what you can take away from this and apply to your urgent care center:
- Be patient-focused — really. It’s easy to say that your center is patient-centric but if you get really clear on what patients are looking for versus what you’re delivering, you may find that to be untrue. What matters most to urgent care patients includes things such as the ability to book same-day online appointments, video or text access to a doctor prior to their appointment, price transparency, and less time spent waiting. Look at every aspect of your urgent care center and ask yourself — is this helpful to the patient? Is this what the patient is looking for? If not, it’s time to make some changes.
- Communicate outside of patient visits. SoulCycle has won over many a customer because their social media largely revolves around having conversations with its customers. Whether responding to a complaint, graciously accepting praise, or just being involved in the little moments, riders know that when they have something to say, SoulCycle won’t dismiss it. You don’t need an epic Twitter following to engage with your patients. Instead, focus on the ways they already communicate with you. Are your patients leaving Yelp reviews? Respond to them. Do you collect email addresses? Send out a weekly newsletter. The options are endless — and the results are well worth the effort.
- Improve the experience of each patient. When you walk into any given gym in the United States, it’s not likely that you’re going to be greeted with enthusiasm. At SoulCycle, it’s different. Customers walk in for a class and are greeted by smiling, helpful associates who are genuinely happy to be there. Urgent care centers can emulate this by thinking through every step of a patient’s experience. From the time a patient looks your urgent care center up online through when they receive treatment and check out, they should be treated to an experience, one that makes them feel valued, cared about, and important. To ensure this, walk through each step as if you were the patient. Analyzing each step will give you insight into systems or processes that can be updated and improved, as well as behavioral modifications necessary to bring the whole team up to a level of high-quality customer service.
There is an overwhelming number of brands who are doing right by their customers and, subsequently, earning themselves a high level of loyalty. Equally, there are a great number of healthcare organizations who are treating patient loyalty as an afterthought. Understandably, a lot of changes are happening in the healthcare industry — it’s easy to push efforts that don’t appear to directly impact the organization. Make no mistake, though: patient loyalty will make or break your urgent care center.