Colleen Szot is an infomercial writer who replaced the call to action “Operators stand by” with “If operators have been busy, please call again.” Her product became a hit because of its image of overwhelmed call centers and eager customers.
The UK tax collection agency replaced the traditional threat of “I might start legal proceedings against your to collect the amount unspaid” by “Over 93% citizens in your town pay their taxes in time” and raised the payment rate from 68% up to 83%.
A sign stating that 87% of patients arrived for their appointments last month was posted at a medical clinic. This increased patient compliance by 31%.
What does the above trio have in common? All three use social norms in order to influence customers. These five tips will help you reduce no-shows in your chiropractic office.
Look beyond marketing
Advertising and sales are two of the most obvious applications of social norms to business. Your website could link to hundreds upon hundreds of patient videos citing incredible results. It should be provocative and interesting.
Consider how you could implement this approach to decrease no-shows among your patients, increase exercise compliance and/or increase referrals.
If no norm exists, educate
Positive role models are only bright if they are the norm. It makes sense to inform your clients and prospects about the norm through publishing surveys and numbers.
Do not allow yourself to create numbers that support your cause. It is unethical and you will likely be caught. Your future efforts will also be scrutinized. Two other options are available:
- This is also known as the “injunctive norme”. Cite a popular opinion, not popular behavior. You can create a social norm by running a survey and posting the results.
- Publicize absolute numbers that indicate popularity. For example, “Your office was visited last month by so-andso million patients suffering from such-andsuch symptoms,” or “So-andso patients referred a friend to this clinic.”
Be careful what you bright-spot
Be sure to promote the behavior you wish to encourage. It is important to not talk about frequency when people are doing the opposite. It is more effective to point out the “common error” than to encourage people to make changes, especially if a large number of people are making it.
Make your pitch personal and relevant
Your role models can help your targets to identify. When you give statistics to patients, be sure to mention their symptoms, age, and gender. Your role model should be as similar as your target to make it more effective.
Test, don’t survey
Social norms operate subconsciously. People who respond to your campaign and change their behavior are often unaware of the reasons. Patients who are able to keep their appointments can’t tell you why they do so. Because they don’t know the effect of the poster on their office wall, they won’t credit it as a reason for their behavior change.
The scientific method is required to evaluate social norm techniques.
- Make a hypothesis.
- Make a simple experiment.
- Track if your targets have changed their behavior.
- Modify if necessary and continue from 1
Social norms will enable you to communicate with your patients in a way that is respectful and doesn’t criticize or make them feel bad.