Ronda Nelson: Well hello my friend. Welcome to The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. This is Episode #41. I’m so glad you’re here. I’m your host, Ronda Nelson. We are going to talk about your patient welcome series. Now, before you tune out, I want you to know that this is probably one of the most important things that you can do in your practice. I know I probably say that about a lot of things but I mean it. Having a welcome email series that warms your new patient up to who you are, helps them know a little bit more about your practice and what makes you tick. It’s a vital part of what you do to stay in communication with them, and also to enroll them in your philosophy.
If you think about it from the patient perspective, working with a new healthcare provider can be a little daunting, especially when it comes to functional medicine. Because the patients are often full of questions, they’ve been sick for a while, they’re just holding their breath and crossing their fingers that you’re going to be able to help them, especially ones that don’t know much about functional medicine or alternative medicine, holistic medicine. They think that means going to GNC or a supplement store and just putting a few things in their cart and calling it good. You and I know that it takes much more than that to really get the body functioning at a better level.
Now, they’ve probably been to your website. They’ve read your about page, which might not be about them. It’s probably more likely about how you did this, you graduated here, you did this, you’re training this. But the point is that the patients just want to feel welcome. They want to feel like they found a home. They want to feel like you get them. Patients want to be heard. In the conventional model, we know that the average patient visit in a western medicine office with a conventional doctor is typically about 5 to 10 minutes. And the quicker that they can turn it around, the more profitable the clinic is. Not that that’s a bad thing but they have to be able to pay their bills, reimbursements are low, and there’s a whole financial crisis we have within our healthcare system, at least the western system. You and I can get outside of that, especially if you do have a cash practice. And when you bring a patient from a Western model into our world, that new patient appointment can be a game-changer for them because, finally, someone’s listening.
You and I are asking the questions that no one else may have asked or thought to ask. Asking questions about where you lived, where you grew up, and when was the last time you felt well, have you traveled out overseas or out of the country, things that might not get asked by another practitioner. However, you and I are going to dig a little bit. We really want to help them but it’s scary for them. If you think about it from their perspective, they’re investing their time and their hard-earned money to work with you. So, how do they know that you’re going to pull through? How do they even know that you and I are going to be able to deliver what we promise? Well, one of the ways that we do that is by inviting them into our world. We can invite them into our world by using emails. Now, some people will say that emails are dead. No one checks their inbox. But let me just ask you this. What if we said to everyone, “Emails are illegal. You cannot have email anymore.” Can you imagine the outcry there would be? People still depend on email as a source of connection, getting on a list, getting information that they need. So, regardless of whether you’ve heard emails are a good way or a bad way, I have still found that especially when it comes to beginning a relationship with a new patient, email is one of the key top ways that you can communicate with them. Especially when you set that up from the beginning meaning you tell them right from the beginning, “Listen, you’re going to be getting some emails from me. I want you to check your email. Watch your inbox and make sure that you read those because there’s going to be very important information in there over the next couple of weeks.”
Now, I’m going to teach you in this episode what I’ve taught to hundreds of practitioners, and that is how to create that welcome series. How to create an email series, which means just several emails. I’m going to teach you what to do, how to write them, but how to create that series that builds relationship, loyalty, trust, and it helps to make that patient feel much more confident that they made the right decision working with you. But before you send that nurture series, there’s a couple of things that you want to consider. You want to send an email that confirms that they’ve scheduled an appointment. Whether they go through your website to schedule or they call your office, there should be a follow-up email that contains the appointment details, “Thank you so much for scheduling. Here are the dates and the details for your appointment. Here are some intake forms.” Maybe here’s where you can contact us if you have any questions, maybe a link to your website, and language that says, “Hey, I’m really excited to meet you,” or, “We’re really excited to meet you.” That’s the first confirmation email that you would send.
And then a second one, maybe a reminder email that says something about, “We’re looking forward to seeing you in a few days. Here’s info about parking,” for instance, if you live in a city and they need to know any kind of details about that. Again, how do they contact you if they have any questions. Maybe send your staff bios, information about you or your staff so that when they get there, they have a face that they recognize. Maybe you put those pictures right in your email and say, “This is so and so. She’s going to be at the front desk and this is so and so and she’s going to work in the back with me and I’m looking forward to meet you.” Put your mug shot in there. And now the patient feels a little bit more like they may be part of the family. So, that’s the preliminary communication that you’re having with that patient before they come in.
Now the day arrives and they come in for their appointment. They’re already feeling like they’re a little connected with you. You’ve communicated well. They’re clear about what’s expected of them, what’s going to be happening, and you do your thing. You meet with them. You make your recommendations, however your flow, what that looks like, and then they check out at your front desk and then out the door they go.
This is where the magic happens, my friend, right here. Hopefully, you’ve already had an amazing customer experience all designed for them. They’ve had a remarkable experience with you so far. But where you really get to shine is continuing the conversation after that initial appointment. Here’s where I’m going to break this down for you in this welcome email series. I’m going to break it down for you in six simple steps. There are six emails that I recommend every practitioner sends, and I’m going to give you the topic of the email, and then in the show notes, you’ll find a resource that will outline all of them.
The email number one that you’re going to send within a few hours after their appointment. Now, this can all be automated. If you need help setting up that automation, you can reach out to me RondaNelson.com/Coaching and you can let me know if this is where you’re having trouble and I can help you get unstuck. Or you can just schedule a free 15-minute business call with me if you’d like. That’s great too. Either way, I’ll put those links in the show notes. But the first email you’re going to send is what I call The Post-Appointment – “Excited For Our Journey Together”. That’s the email. You’re going to send it two to three hours after their first appointment comes to its conclusion. You might pick one thing that you want to give them a little bit more information about. Maybe you’re going to make sure every single patient has information about the importance of stretching or movement.
Maybe you want to just say, “It was great to see you. There’s one more thing I want to be sure that that we talk about and that is the importance of getting a good night’s sleep or increasing your vegetable intake,” whatever it is, but give them just a little bit of extra information that you didn’t give them during your appointment and encourage them, let them know it was great to meet them that you’ll be in contact with them over the next few days with more information that will be important so be sure they watch their email. And off they go. Also, make sure that you include in that email contact information, “If you have questions, be sure you call us and let us know if you have questions about your supplements or you’re unsure about anything from your appointment earlier today,” like make it very specific, “Here’s the number where you can call or here’s the email where you can reach us.” That is email number one. It’s just a nice little follow-up email with a little bit of added information and some contact info.
Email number two is where you’re going to share a little bit about yourself. Now, this is more than what you have on your About page. Email number two is where you came from, you, the practitioner, and what your journey has been. Now, I don’t recommend that you write out your life story. “I was born on… I went to school at… I graduated at…” This is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about sharing real honesty about why you do what you do. What brought you to this field of functional medicine? Tell us a story. And don’t be afraid to share a few of the bumps that you encountered along the way. Maybe it was a health challenge or maybe you were in a car accident and a chiropractor or an acupuncturist was what really made your health turn around and got you out of that situation, and that was where your journey began. Or you had to stop school because you had a health emergency with a family member, and then you went back and finished. Don’t be afraid to just be really honest about it. But share your journey. What brought you to the work that you do? How did you earn or learn what you’re doing? Don’t make it too much about you like, “Oh, I have attended 20,000 hours of continuing education training and I’ve had 10,000 hours of this and 200 hours of this, and I’m a member of this.” No. That’s not what I’m talking about because that they don’t care.
What they want to know is you. They want to know about you as a person, you as an individual. What makes you tick? Why do you love doing what you do? This second email is just where you came from and what your journey has been, and it creates relatability, trust, confidence because they look at you as being like them. They look at you like, “Oh, he gets me. She gets me. She’s been through this too. Okay, I can do this.” And I should tell you, that second email you’re going to send on day two. So, the first email is on day one, the day of their appointment, just a couple of hours after you see them. On day two, you’re going to send a second email. Your third email, you’re going to send on day four. We’re going to give them a little bit of a break. We don’t want to blow up their email inbox.
Now, the topic of email number three, I like to say it’s the it’s-not-your-fault email, meaning it’s not your fault that you have had bad information or that you’re sick because you didn’t know that sugar was bad for you or you didn’t know the impact of working a night shift or you didn’t know. I like to think of this email number three as taking responsibility off of them because very often the patients feel guilty. They feel guilty because, “Oh, if I’d only known, I wouldn’t have been eating ice cream all these years or I wouldn’t have had so much coffee or I would have been more physically active.” Sometimes they just don’t know and no one teaches them this information. This is where you’re going to come in as the expert, the guide, and the authority. You want to share with them that there’s a lot of conflicting information. Dr. Google is not your best source of information. We all know that. You could give an example about, for instance, ascorbic acid being a synthetic white powder that they’re told is vitamin C when in fact it’s not. The vitamin C complex, as found in food is completely different than ascorbic acid. And yes, it has ascorbic acid as that outer wrapper but the whole food complex is vitamin C, whereas ascorbic acid is not vitamin C.
You can teach them something like that. You can talk about how the information that we get is driven by Big Pharma and corporate interests and follow the money, who’s paying for the study. Sometimes patients really truly don’t know that and that’s the world that we live in. We see this and we hear it and we know it but they don’t know. They don’t realize that the information censoring about nutrition began in the 20s and 30s. You don’t have to say all of that but whatever you feel inclined, whatever you feel comfortable talking about but just write it out, maybe a paragraph or two, and then just let them know that food is the most important healer. If they knew the power of food to heal the body, they would have been doing food a long time ago, but again, it’s not your fault you didn’t know. And then provide your contact info, provide your website info, and just let them know you got their back, and that’s why you love using whole food in your practice. That’s why you love using herbs. That’s why you talk about diet so much. You got their back and it’s not their fault. That’s email number three. And that email you’re going to send on day four.
Email number four is Why You Do What You Do. It’s a little bit of an overlap from the email that you sent earlier. But again, why are you so passionate about what you do? What kinds of health conditions do you love working with? What have you had great success with? You may even talk about your own experience, again, from a little different perspective because the patients want to hear that. They want to be reassured that you really do know what you’re talking about and you really can help them get better. One little email sent on the second day isn’t going to be enough to sustain their belief for months down the road. I like to have this email number four be kind of the same thing. You’re just talking about it from a different perspective, who you like to serve, what kind of transformation do you like to see, what kind of health conditions make you so excited to work with them. You just get excited about the possibility of healing and the fact that the body has this amazing innate ability to heal. And regardless of what your specialty is, we all know that the body can heal itself, given the right nutrients and the right mental state, and emotional state like it’s all tied together. You can just share about that. So, email number four is just another version of why you do what you do. And again, you want to include contact info, website, info, etcetera. This email is sent on day number seven. And again, I’ll have all of this in the resource in the show notes.
Email number five, we’re almost done, we only have two to go. Email number five is where you’re going to share some testimonials. Now, if you have reviews, they may or may not have seen them but patients often will send you an email and just say, “Doc, I didn’t think that I could ever get better, and then I met you,” and they’re really sharing their heart about how grateful they are and how much their life has been changed as a result of you working with them. Now, you can provide this testimonial. It can be anonymous. You can just put initials if you want but share some testimonials and write about a time when you remember working with X person, this particular person. Change the name. If you’re worried about HIPAA then change the name and change the gender. Unless of course, it’s female hormones. You can’t really change the gender there. But you can change the name, change the gender, and then that way that just adds a little bit of protection for you as far as any PHI. But write about a time that you worked with a certain patient. What happened? How did that patient come in the door? How are they feeling? And what were you able to do? How were you able to transform them? What did you recommend? How well did they comply? You know, how well did they follow through? And then what was the outcome? And then talk about how that made you feel. How did that light you up or how did that change your life?
Things that are that marked moment when you say you realize something like, “Oh my gosh, I had no idea that that much change could happen by just adding in these three supplements and making sure that you had a smoothie every day,” whatever it is that’s relevant for you. Be honest. Don’t make anything up but be honest. And then share about how humbled and honored you are that they said yes to you and that you’re looking forward to that same kind of result with them. You want to bring it back to them because remember, that everybody wants it to be about them. Our job is just to be the guide. We are the guide and we’re guiding the patient from point A to point B. And so, when you tie all this back, you can talk about other testimonials but then you just want to share, like, “I can’t wait to hear about the transformation that you are going to have because I’m confident that we’re going to get this.” And you’re just instilling confidence in the patient so that they know and believe that you’re going to be able to get them better. That’s what it’s all about. They want to trust you. They want to know that you have their back. And they want to believe that you can help them and there’s not much of a better way to share it and to show it than through social proof, and that’s what those testimonials are. Now as with the other emails, be sure you include contact information and also your website information.
And then your last email, this is email number six, you are going to do what we call future pacing. What this means is you’re going to talk about what your life will be like when…? You want to help them see their future as a healthy individual. What will your life be like when you have all the energy in the world and you don’t have to worry about your healthcare problems. Now, remember that these emails are going out to every single new patient. You’re not going to be able to be specific and talk about the patient’s specific healthcare concerns. This same series of six emails goes out to every single new patient that comes in. So, when you write them, especially this one, you want to be more general. You can say things and use phrases like, “Think about how wonderful it would be,” or, “What if _____?” or, “Imagine if _____ could be the case for you forever? What could dramatically change as a result of focusing on your health and making you a priority? What would change? What would life be like if your health concern was fully resolved? How would the people around you feel if you were completely well?”
This is called future pacing. You’re basically getting them to imagine and begin to believe and see what their life will be like in the future when they’re better. And that belief is powerful. We know the effect of belief on body chemistry. We know the effect of belief on emotions. When someone has something in the future that they can believe in, they can then manifest that physical reality into the future and see it as a point that they’re heading towards and they will get there. And you as a practitioner get to keep reinforcing that future pacing. You can reinforce how they’re going to feel in the future when X doesn’t exist anymore, when you don’t have fatigue or you don’t have digestive issues. Or when all those things are gone, how is that going to feel? What is that going to be like? What’s life going to be like?
It’s at this point, you’ve spaced these emails out several days apart so that you’re not blowing up their inbox and they can actually look forward to those emails that come from you. And I will tell you this, my experience after working with so many coaching clients over the years, that there’s about an 80% open rate on these emails. A general email that you send will have about a 20% to 25% open rate. But these emails, 80% of the people that you send them to will open them and they will read every one because they’re from you and they’re from your heart and they’re from the people that you’ve served. They’re those testimonials and they’re about why you do what you do, what you’re passionate about, and how you really are committed to have their back and help them get better and feel better in the future. 80% of the people you send these to, maybe more, will read them. Don’t feel like you have to be an author. Don’t feel like you have to be a copywriter. You don’t need to hire this out.
If you’re not a writer, this is one trick that I will tell you, grab your cell phone and hit the record button. Use the guidelines that I just laid out, use the resource that’s in the show notes. And if you’re listening, you’re on your treadmill and you’re thinking, “Oh, I need to take notes,” you may need to listen to this episode more than once. But if you do, if you want the free resource, go to RondaNelson.com/WelcomeSeries. That’s where you’ll find the resource. I’ve listed all of the emails the day you want to send them and a few tips about what you can include in that email just to kind of get you started. But if you don’t feel like you’re a writer, what I used to do is I would hit the record button on my cell phone and then I would just say what I wanted to say, then I would have someone transcribe it. And it always looks terrible when you transcribe it. But I would have them transcribe it and then I could go in and clean it up. I could make it read correctly to read it. It doesn’t read as if I’m talking because we always add the “um’s” and the “oh’s” and incomplete sentences and whatnot.
Just get it down with your phone. Email, number one, record it. Email number two, record it. Email number three, record it. Go through them, record them all, and then transcribe them, and then you can clean them up. Try and keep the word count to about 200 words, maybe 300 words. They don’t need to be long. If you get very poetic, and you feel like you want to write a little bit more, you can but just keep them fairly short. I would say no more than two to three sentences per paragraph. Because if you write a big long email, that’s one big solid paragraph or a long paragraph, people won’t read it. You’re going to have a lot of shorter paragraphs. It’s easier to read and then bullet points where appropriate, and then sign it from you personally. Once you have those emails done, then you can create the automation and I’m happy to help you with that if you’d like. You can reach out to me. You can always go to my website, RondaNelson.com/Strategy, and you can go there and you’ll find out where to schedule that free business strategy call.
Ronda Nelson: So, that’s it for today, my friend. I gave you a lot of info. This is some good stuff, my friend. So, if you need to listen to this episode more than once, please do so. And while you’re at it on your favorite device, if you could leave me a review, I would love it on whatever app or program platform that you’re streaming this podcast, just leave me a review. Let me know how much you loved it. I would love to hear from you. And otherwise, head over to RondaNelson.com/WelcomeSeries for a free guide that will help you be able to get all six steps all nailed down and it’ll give you like a little resource checklist so to speak, so that you’ll know exactly what to put in each one. And if you need help maintaining regular email communication with your patients, and you’d like to learn more about getting that set up so that you’ve got emails that are going out regularly, and you’ve got some good content to share with them, I recommend that you check out ClinicalCatalyst.com. Go to ClinicalCatalysts.com where you can find out more about using a comprehensive wellness marketing platform for your practice. I think you’ll find some great information there about how you can continue to provide ongoing email content, ongoing resources for your patients long after you’ve completed this initial welcome series.
That’s it, my friend. That’s all I got for you today, this week. Have an awesome week. Thanks for joining me on The Clinical Entrepreneur Podcast. I’ll be back with you next week.
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