The Wooden Nickel Goes High Tech
Posted on October 29th, 2010
Incentive or reward programs are being utilized today in almost every industry. From airlines to coffee houses, businesses everywhere are seeing the many advantages of loyalty programs. These programs offer significant benefits when used within orthodontic practices as well. When properly executed they help increase capacity, schedule efficiency, and reinforce patient compliance all the while driving a greater treatment experience for the patient. This is achieved by attaching a prescribed value to certain practice standards.
- Awarding patients for wearing their removable appliances strengthens patient compliance which results in treatment being finished on-time.
- Awarding patients for arriving on time to their appointment increases scheduling compliance creating a more predictable measurement of planning doctor and staff time.
- Awarding patients for “nothing loose or broken” decreases breakage, which means fewer emergency appointments and less non-productive chair time.
- Awarding patients for good oral hygiene results in on-time treatment.
Rewarding positive behavior, though simple in concept, can produce outstanding results. An incentive program benefits your clinical efficiency while leveraging your marketing dollars by increasing new patients and greater practice loyalty. Take for example rewarding patients for inviting friends to visit your office. Not only does this increases patient referrals but builds on the relationship with your existing patient. Being a member of your practice fosters a sense of belonging, loyalty and pride. The following are essential elements that should be taken into consideration when evaluating any incentive program.
Ease of use
In order to ensure a successful program launch, as well as team member and patient adoption, your program must be fast, easy and efficient. Team members enjoy participating in the program because it makes their job easier. Patients enjoy participating because they reap the benefits of sharing in your practice initiatives. Consider leveraging a web-based platform. Our member offices award, account, and redeem points seamlessly with a click of a button. Simply swiping a patient’s membership card (or typing their name) takes you directly to that patient’s profile where points can be added or redeemed. By linking your website with our redemption platform, patients can shop online trading their points for prizes. Upon making their selection from a variety of national branded retailers, items are shipped directly to the patient with a congratulatory note from your office. It’s essential that a program is turn-key and comprehensive. Eliminating the logistical hassle of counting “wooden nickels” or replenishing costly “tokens” is a direct benefit of a web-based program. They also assist with cash flow and reduce labor by eliminating excess office inventory and the time associated with running a manual based system.
Supporting marketing material coupled with your program is paramount to success. You must clearly communicate how patients earn points and how and what they can use those points for. Your program should prominently feature the unique way in which you incorporate practice compliance with your patient’s clinical treatment plan. Each component of your program should be easily understood by your patients, parents and team members. Make sure your office utilizes this as a “selling” feature in the new patient process and that it is highlighted on your website.
Share your program! Rewarding patients for seeing their dentists or hygienist for regular cleanings and exams further strengthens the relationship you have with that dental office. Patients appreciate the shared approach taken to their overall dental health and the benefits accrued at their visits. Giving your membership card to dental team members is a unique way to differentiate your practice from your competitors. It’s also a great way of encouraging dental team members to visit your website where they can read about your clinical philosophy, orthodontic concerns, and current office events.
Our Kids Club program caters to younger, pre-treatment or observation patients. We have found when they are able to participate in office events, contests, and share their personal milestones with you it helps cultivate loyalty even prior treatment beginning. If these “future” patients are accumulating points in pre-treatment, it’s safe to say that when it comes time to get their treatment underway, they will be inclined to select your office. A side benefit is that you will have already set clear expectations on the behavior that is endorsed and rewarded in your practice.
Your reward program is a monetary exchange; do you have the measurement tools and analytic processes in place to monitor it? It is essential to have various checks and balance systems in your program. Alert functionality of irregular activity within the program ensures it cannot be abused by users. Make sure you have an accurate accounting of team member activities and audit this regularly. Beyond this, the latest encryption software and best practice virus and hosting capabilities should also be taken into consideration.
Make your program stand out! Your marketing collateral should be professional with clear and concise messaging. Of course it should be highly branded with your practice image. Awarding points for activities outside your office such as; good grades, personal success and community service also increases parent satisfaction because you share in your patient’s lives and the communities you serve. Don’t limit your program to just patients, reward parents for sharing their experience with your office as well. It’s your program… the options are limitless.
Reward programs, when marketed and implemented properly, are a great investment to your overall practice marketing plan. Significant results can be seen practice wide and patients will enthusiastically share their reward and orthodontic experience with others.