Very few businesses have the name of their core business model in their title, but this one does: urgent care center. Urgent. If you can’t embody those words, your urgent care center will be an irrelevant care center quickly.
For urgent care centers, urgency leads to patient satisfaction. But there’s a bit more to it than pure speed. There’s the long game, and that’s where we have some suggestions to boost loyalty for your urgent care center:
Location, Location, Location
If someone has a sore throat, they’re thinking less about loyalty and more about who can give them the quickest response. Still, customers are very loyal to other brands: their favorite ketchup, frozen waffles and organic produce.
That’s why people form such bonds with their grocery stores, and that is why urgent care centers have been smart to partner and locate there. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about piggybacking onto a brand people are intensely loyal to.
So, if we take the “loyalty piggyback” model, where else might an urgent care center locate that leverages loyalty and convenience? People are loyal to their banks. Perhaps come in for a deposit and a throat culture? It sounds far-fetched, but so did the first care clinics at groceries (some influenza with your pork chops?).
People are also loyal to department stores and malls, so locating a storefront clinic in the local outlet mall could be a winner. People are loyal to their schools, so a clinic near the high school would help cultivate future customers and be convenient for the community.
Becker’s Hospital Review says 21 percent of urgent care visitors cite convenient location as a selling point of an urgent care center. If you can find a place that is convenient and engenders loyalty, you’ve got a winner. In short, we encourage you to be visionary and piggyback on loyalty wherever you can find it.
If you must close, keep your doors closed from midnight to 6 a.m or 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Better yet keep a skeleton staff around the clock. If you’ve ever had a throbbing, screaming, pounding-like-a-hammer toothache at 2 a.m., being there for a patient to give them some painkillers and antibiotics will breed intense loyalty. An urgent care center in Phoenix lays out a strong case for 24 hour access.
What works for the local library with the bookmobile can work for your urgent care clinic. Bring the medicine to where the ailments are. Is it a searing 100 degrees during the local county fair? Bring your center’s mobile clinic there to provide cool water and care. And give your clinic a presence at local festivals and football games. The visibility will serve as a billboard, you’ll serving people where they are and that boosts loyalty.
A Human Touch
Speed is important, but so is a human touch. People don’t want to feel like they’re cattle. Never underestimate the value of a smile, a look in the eye or compassionate questions. They don’t cost a cent, but training staff in the basics of humanity during people’s most painful moments will delivery loyalty in spades.
Patient Engagement Technology
Even people suffering from a horrible headache or a churning stomach are accustomed to whipping out their mobile devices. Make it easy to schedule appointments, or at the very least, have a real-time monitor so people can see how long their wait will be. Yes, you’ll lose a customer or two in the short-term if they see there are a dozen people ahead of them. But they’ll keep coming back because you think enough about the customer’s time to be transparent.
And utilizing a digital patient engagement platform like PatientBond can keep the digital relationship alive even when the urgency is gone with seasonal health reminders (remember the flu shot!), wellness newsletters and events. PatientBond can keep an urgent care center top of mind throughout the year with a digital relationship that extends the patient journey across the many services an urgent care center offers.
They work for Starbucks and the local grocery store, so why wouldn’t they work for healthcare? A recent study says such programs should be implemented by healthcare providers. The benefits of such a program, according to the the University of Michigan, go beyond simple loyalty:
“The main driver, they say, should be the need for hospitals, clinics and other providers to keep patients coming back to them so they can succeed as Accountable Care Organizations.
ACOs give healthcare providers a chance to earn extra payments if they provide high-quality care and keep healthcare cost growth down for a defined population of patients, in part by keeping patients healthy so they need less medical care.”
While an independent chain of urgent care centers may not be part of an ACO, they can partner with ACOs to be a critical factor in keeping repeat hospital visits down.
Loyalty programs at an urgent care clinic need not be complicated: “Come here to get your blood pressure taken three times and the fourth is on us.” If people can keep track of how much they’ve invested in your clinic, they’ll keep coming back. And don’t underestimate the value of a referral bonus.
In short, urgent care centers thrive at the intersection of altruism and urgency. Give people what they want and when they want and they’ll keep coming back — whether that’s to a grocery store, a dry cleaner or your clinic.