Wendy Lewis offers an analysis of what makes patients tick 

Wendy Lewis is President of Wendy Lewis & Co Ltd, Global
Aesthetics Consultancy, a marketing communications group in New York. An award-winning writer, her textbook. Aesthetic Clinic Marketing in the Digital Age. (CRC Press) will have a second edition in 2022. She is a frequent presenter at virtual and live conferences worldwide. 
contact wl@wlbeauty.com

Savvy marketers spend a lot of time learning what their client’s pain points are so they can sell them more products and services. As consumers ourselves, we have all experienced this method practically every time we do a search for something we are interested in or actually make a purchase. Marketers work tirelessly to create clever ways to remind potential customers of a ‘problem’ they are most likely to be experiencing. The next step is to present solutions to manage that problem.

The consumer’s pain points could be anything they may encounter during the customer journey. In medical aesthetics, this may include product discovery, doing research online, checking out reviews, getting intel from friends, booking a consultation, experiencing a treatment, to signing up for a series of treatments, and so on. 

Think about how you shop online. You may be searching for something specific, or you could stumble on a product or treatment that catches your eye along the way and distracts you from your original mission. Continuing with the online shopping comparison, if you abandon your cart that might be where your journey ends. Thus, it is important to develop a strategy to drive potential clients back to their proverbial cart to finish the journey. 

To get a handle on the aesthetic customer journey, from learning about your clinic to handing over their Visa card, take a close look at the process to create fresh ways to bring the customer back. A multi-channel approach may be accomplished through online opportunities to events in your physical location. It will involve multiple touchpoints that may include social media platforms, practice website, digital marketing, blogs, email marketing, e-commerce, virtual and live events, honours and awards, and press mentions. Along the customer journey, each touchpoint may be the critical success factor or not. 

Be visible where you need to be

Today it is no longer realistic for a solo clinic or even a larger group practice to be present on every relevant platform and manage their presence effectively on them all. It takes a small army. Rather than attempting to be everywhere and take on everything, most clinics are best served by focusing their marketing budgets and energy on an edited list of customer engagement paths that will have the best chance of being effective. 

Striving to be present everywhere can be physically and mentally exhausting. Burnout runs the risk of affecting the customer journey in a negative way. Patients can sense when the clinic staff is stressed out and exhausted. They may come across as being easily irritated, less attentive, or forgetful when it comes to patients’ needs. This is not a good look for an aesthetic practice. The simplest solution is to enlist external expertise, bring them in-house or both when you need it, to take some of that burden off the clinic staff so they can focus on taking care of patients. 

Key pain points 

Aesthetic patients’ pain points are basically unmet needs that are waiting to be fulfilled. Think about some specific pain points that come up within your practice. 

Consider these common examples of pain points:

  1. You recommend a treatment that is too expensive for the client’s budget. 
  2. A new patient comes in for desiring to have specific laser treatment she read about that you do not offer in your clinic.
  3. Your practice is located in a business district and many patients can only come in before or after work or during their lunch hour. 
  4. A provider gives a client a toxin touch-up as a ‘freebie,’ and due to a miscommunication she gets charged for it at checkout. 
  5. You are having unrelenting problems with a piece of capital equipment that inconveniences your clients and providers.
  6. A patient has a treatment and then comes in for a follow-up appointment and is unhappy with the outcome. 

Now let’s examine some possible solutions to the above pain points:

  1. Financial limitations stop clients from coming back and may lead them to search for more cost-effective alternatives elsewhere. Consider an alternative treatment to address the client’s needs within her budget. For example, suggest a mini treatment at a lower price point, or recommend starting with a home care product or an anti-ageing facial treatment instead of a more invasive choice. If the patient is pleased with your approach, she may surprise you by having the more expensive treatment over time. 
  2. In this case, explain the differences between the laser she read about and why the technology you are recommending will address her specific concerns best. Being able to show before & after photos of patients who have been treated and ideally have similar issues, may put the patient’s mind at ease.
  3. Your clinic needs to be open when your patients want to come in. Choices are to extend clinic hours to earlier or later appointments, or make one or two days to be late nights, and/or try seeing patients on a half-day on one or two Saturdays per month. 
  4. This is a communication problem that should be easily resolved between the provider and the front desk. If the patient brings it up at checkout, the person at the front desk should ask the provider (not within earshot of the patient). If it was a mistake, the patient should not be charged and get an apology. Billing mistakes or overcharging are among the top complaints that turn up in negative reviews. If it was not a mistake, that could be tricky to sort. 
  5. Equipment that does not work properly all or at least most of the time should be sent out for repair ASAP, or traded in for a new model or something better that is more reliable. Aesthetic patients generally have a very low tolerance for this kind of snafu and it can be very embarrassing for the staff.  
  6. If the patient’s complaint is reasonable and you want to make her happy, offer a second treatment at no charge. You may choose a treatment that has no consumables attached, so your cost will be lower.  

The first step in addressing patient pain points is knowing how to identify them. Whether it’s a complaint about customer service, dissatisfaction with a product or service, keeping the lines of communication open will serve you well in the long term. The most direct way to learn about your patients’ pain points is to give them a forum to discuss whatever is on their minds. It should be easy for them to share their issues with the clinic staff without feeling embarrassed. Listen and respond to their concerns and complaints in a timely and caring fashion, even if you must bite your tongue. 

As they may inevitably affect your bottom line, these common patient pain points should never be ignored. Identifying them early and acting swiftly to solve the issues is the best way to run a healthy and successful practice. 

To PRIME Journal readers 

This is Part One of a special two-part series. Part Two shall appear in the next issue of PRIME Journal

You are welcome to reach out directly to Wendy Lewis and with your questions and comments on the important topic of addressing aesthetic patient pain points. 

She we respond to your queries directly, and include questions and answers from our readers in Part Two.