Getting the most out of your customer database

In order to market your practice successfully, it is essential to have a detailed understanding of your target audiences.  The best way to do this is through your existing Practice Management System.  Whether you are using Sunix or Optomate, or even any other system, you will find that within these programs you are able to log details and facts about each individual patient.  The more thorough you are with this the easier it will be to track and monitor the wider happenings within your practice.  You will notice spending/visiting trends in certain populations and with this information you are equipped to implement what experts refer to as, Data Driven Marketing, professional right?  As fancy and as advanced as this may sound, basically all it comes down to is quality and meticulous data entry.  

Review patient details

Every optical practice is in a position to implement this given the quality time that you spend with your patients in store.  However, it is very important to note that it is all well and good to have data entered, but this needs to be reviewed each time the patient visits the store.  There is no point having inaccurate data in the system as it will be counterintuitive for all involved.  All staff who are consumer facing in store need to be educated on the importance of thorough data entry and the need review/update existing patient details every time one visits your practice.

Customise data for marketing

As mentioned earlier, Practice Management Systems are automatically set up with data collecting columns.  These come in the form of age, gender, postcode, health fund etc etc.  However, what a lot of people don’t realise, is that these can be customised to reflect the data that you specifically want to view.  For instance, say you would like to reach out to all your contact lens wearing patients to let them know of a special on lenses.  If you have set up a specific data column for this, that you can enter in contact lens wearing status.  Then at the touch of a button, you can populate this list of patients who wear contacts and inform them exclusively of your upcoming special.  This is not only effective for yourselves; it also stops patients receiving communications from you that is irrelevant to them and thus they are less likely to ignore future messages from you due to thinking they are spam.  A win-win situation for all involved!

Use reminders or processes

If you find that you are not very good at remembering to enter details into your Practice Management System or that you simply forget to even look at anything more on there aside from a patient name.  Perhaps pop a little sticky note on your computer screen to prompt you or your staff to complete this.  Or try and adopt a process that you follow for every patient visit, this could be as simple as checking with the patient that their mobile number is up to date in the system and by doing so you are prompted to do a quick audit of the rest of the data in the patients file and change/add any inaccuracies you discover.

Pay attention to key data

Even if you don’t think you are ready to customize your columns, there are some ‘key’ columns that hold utmost importance to pay attention to.  All patients aligned with a health fund should be carefully noted, as when it comes to EOFY or UIOLI season, these patients are crucial to contact for you to run a successful campaign.  Similarly, as petty as this may seem, make sure patient’s mobile numbers are listed in the mobile column.  Without this number in the mobile column, you will be unable to automatically populate it onto an SMS/MMS marketing list, and you will not be able to deliver your marketing message to them. 

This all may seem so basic or like it is too time consuming, however by taking these extra few minutes to ensure things noted are correct, you can almost guarantee that when you go to do some of that fancy “Data Driven Marketing” that your content will resonate with your target audience and attract those specific patient groups.  You can essentially become your own practice puppeteer, pulling on direct strings to get the direct reactions that you wish, whenever you wish!   Often in marketing we spend a lot of our energy trying to attract new patients to our practices.  Whilst this is all well and good, it is much simpler to get your existing patients to return to you, and by providing them with exemplary customer service and expert care, you may just find that they will market to new patients for you by recommending your practice to their loved ones.

The moral to this patient database tale, is that it is in your best interests to take those extra few moments to accurately record your patients’ data.  You’ll find that although it will take a bit longer at the time, it will save you endless hours when it comes to campaign marketing or to communicate with specific patient populations. 

Other posts you may be interested in...