by Clark Cave
Loyalty is everywhere. Just this morning I left my hotel, bought a cup of coffee, purchased a wedding gift on an online registry, and filled my car with gas. Perhaps this comes as no surprise, but all four companies had some version of a loyalty program. Although the economic advantage of customer retention has always been understood, the use of loyalty programs to meet this end is changing paradigms. Who would have ever thought you would be rewarded for pumping gas? As a result, loyalty programs are gaining more and more traction in unassuming industries because they work. The cosmetic surgery industry can take a page out of their book.
In this article we will discuss the philosophy of successful loyalty programs and cite some examples of highly effective applications. You will also learn the benefits of loyalty programs and strategies you can take back to your practice.
The Basics Of Loyalty
The underlying allure of any loyalty program is the customer’s belief that they are receiving an advantage beyond what’s available to everyone else. For this reason, a “200 points for $300 off SmartLipo” offer promotes exclusivity beyond a blanket “$300 off SmartLipo.” Additionally, customers—especially Millennials—like to know that the company they are patronizing has some proverbial skin in the game. It goes without saying that cosmetic surgery patients know they spend a lot of money on your services. They also know that have a lot of options. Therefore, the practice that rewards patients comparable to their revenue contributions will be more competitive. Creating a practice points system is a great way to check this box.
Loyalty Means Thinking Ahead
When a patient walks through your door, it’s time to start considering their next visit or visits. Assuming that the individuals sitting in your office are going to make a purchase, this is the perfect opportunity to market other services in your catalogue. One way to accomplish this is by turning your practice lobby into a commercial. If done successfully, the patient should have a good idea of what they want next as they go to pay. Directly after payment, the patient should receive an incentive to return.
As discussed, points act as a great incentive, but offering targeted discounts to encourage patients to book quickly is also a potential strategy. Vistaprint, an online printing service, has a clever approach to this. Right after checkout, customers are given a deep discount that expires within 72 hours. This instills a fear of missing out (FOMO), which is an effective motivator when making purchasing decisions.
Adding competition to mundane activities makes them more engaging. If you don’t believe me, look no further than your Waze navigation app. You literally earn points for driving your car. So it goes without saying that adding gamification to commerce can evolve into an auxiliary business model. Sephora, a French chain of cosmetics stores, has mastered this tactic. At Sephora, every time a customer purchases an item, they receive points. Those points can be used on future discounts or collected and applied toward a rotating inventory of makeup options. This type of loyalty program transforms the transactional market design into an arcade-like model. Anecdotally speaking, some patrons end up buying products just to collect points. Although this may be tough to explain to aliens, most of us can agree that the dopamine shot that comes with earning and spending points is very attractive.
Rewards for Tasks
Since rewards have to be spent on future services or products, they motivate customers to buy more. Therefore, giving patients rewards for completing tasks is a two birds, one stone strategy. For example, rewards can be given for submitting reviews, filling out paperwork, and giving a testimonial. However, the single most impactful thing you can do for your revenue stream is reward patients for referring friends. Airbnb and Uber provide rewards to the referrer and referred if the referred converts into a customer. Providing patients rewards to refer friends can lead to a massive influx of referred patients. The additional advantage here is that referred patients tend to be more loyal than non-referred. Ultimately, giving patients an opportunity to earn rewards for tasks is a great way to increase engagement.
Reward Your Loyalty VIPs
The real VIPs for your practice are those who bring you the most revenue. There are assorted membership programs in the cosmetic surgery field that require patients to pay up front for membership labels (silver, gold, platinum) in order to receive discounts on services. Although these programs may help satisfy certain retention goals, they only target a minority of patients and inspire no gamification. Instead, giving patients loyalty labels for generating revenue for your practice is a powerful gamification strategy. As mentioned above, rewarding those who refer is a great way to gamify that behavior. That is, if your silver, gold, and diamond labels are based off of the total revenue a patient earns for your practice via repeat or referral business, you have now made loyalty a competition.
Love them or hate them, Loyalty is here to stay. Loyalty programs give participating customers perceived advantages over everyone else. They also encourage companies to focus greater attention on the customers that bring in the most revenue. As an additional perk, effective loyalty programs empower customers to become brand evangelists and open revenue channels never explored. All that said, there is a great opportunity for cosmetic surgery practices to follow the lead of modern marketing. In addition, there are also some great tools available to cosmetic surgery practices that can help make starting a loyalty program seamless. Your patients will appreciate love you for it.
Clark Cave is the founder of Lemod, a digital loyalty platform for cosmetic surgery practices. He is an industry expert on loyalty marketing and a primary contributor in the field of cosmetic surgery. He is a former US Army Major, Afghanistan veteran, and is best known for his work in expanding Telemedicine within the DOD.