Sometimes, small business owners and even big corporations forget that client/customer engagement and therefore retention is one of the most critical pillars of a business. This is so important that, dare I say, it should require more of your attention than acquiring new clients.

Note: In this piece, “client engagement” refers to engaging the interest of clients in a marketing sense, not their engagement with their treatment.

Even for private practice owners who understand the importance of keeping their clients engaged, the struggle is in figuring out how to go about it. If you belong in that category, luckily for you, it’s not too difficult to increase client engagement as long as you keep one thing in mind:

Make clients feel valued.

Every client-related activity you do for your practice, do it with this overarching goal and you should be able to manoeuvre your way into creating a private practice brand culture that, first and foremost, prioritises client engagement.

Knowing this, how can you utilise this concept in your private practice? I have summarised the most important client engagement strategies into 5 simple points.

 

#1. Make it easy for your clients to access your service

The first step you can take in your practice to increase client engagement is to examine its processes. How many touchpoints are involved from the starting point to the end point? In an online sense, say the starting point is the first time a client comes across your website. From that moment until conversion (e.g., making a booking), what processes are involved? Write them all down and examine whether or not all the touchpoints are required.

A client is going to lose interest if they have to jump through hoops to get to the final stage. You know those websites that won’t let you read their blogs unless you disable your ad blocker? Or websites with poor navigation that force you to click “Home” multiple times just to find your way around? Or physical stores that are hidden away without any clear signs, or with no car parks? Consider the clients’ perspective and get rid of anything that just gets in the way of their (and your) goal.

 

#2. Make every touchpoint valuable

Speaking of streamlining your processes, not every touchpoint between you and your clients happens during the conversion process. Consider your pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase touchpoints. Are you providing value?

Consumers want quick and easy solutions to their problems. Generally speaking, unless you’re offering something of value that is relevant to their problems, they won’t pay attention to anything you have to say. Consider the types of communication you’re sending out to the world and examine whether they’re useful.

This includes your weekly newsletters, social media posts, brochures, client service and more. There is no quicker way to make a client hit “unsubscribe” than sending out simply annoying emails. In the same vein, your social media following will never increase if you’re not engaging your clients by posting relevant content that they’re interested in at the right times.

Touchpoints to increase customer engagement

 

#3. Be easily contactable

Digging a bit deeper into the above points, another crucial aspect you can implement to increase client engagement is making your client services easily accessible. Make it easy for your clients to contact you to ask questions, access support, provide feedback or even complain.

You would have seen some websites that have “call to action” buttons everywhere to make a purchase. To find their customer service contact details however, you have to navigate through a dozen pages. Similarly, some businesses are so adamant to avoid human contact with their clients, that they will force you to search through their FAQs multiple times before providing contact details.

Some of these may be good business decisions. After all, they’re trying to help clients find their answer quickly without waiting on hold or waiting for an email reply. But it’s not always what the client wants. Clients (like myself, personally) who prefer to quickly find an answer online and move on, would not call you unless they’ve exhausted all their online avenues. Clients who prefer to talk to someone before looking for FAQ answers would call you regardless of your online resources. The point is to remove the communication barriers between the client and yourself.

 

#4. Offer targeted services

Increasing client engagement isn’t just up to how you communicate with them. It also depends on the products and services you provide. A customer looking for a specific product will be more likely to explore a shop that exclusively sells this product, rather than a general shop. In a similar sense, a client looking for a particular health service is more likely to be drawn to a practice that mentions this as their main service.

By offering niche or targeted services, you can approach the marketing strategies more intentionally and fluently – that is, now that you’ve narrowed down the services you’re offering, you can build the theme, vibe, images, words and colour palettes around them. For example, if you’re running a psychology private practice focusing on pregnancy and birth-related challenges, your tone would be different to a practice targeting clients with sleep issues.

By using the tone and words that speak to the relevant target market, you’ve already captured their online keywords and therefore significantly closed the gap between discovery and conversion. You’ve ensured the client that they are in the right place.

 

#5. Create (or join) a group or event for your clients

Clients identifying with your services is one thing, but it’s another to actually hang out together. What happens if you have an amazing team of practitioners eager to support clients with particular issues but those clients don’t know you exist? Well, nothing.

Utilise platforms like Facebook Groups and other online forums to connect with your potential clients. Getting helpful advice and participating in relevant topics of interest can increase their engagement and loyalty with your practice. It’s especially important for you to join these discussions if your goal is to develop your own personal brand and increase your online presence.

Even if it feels a bit awkward at first, it’s about execution more than the idea itself. And when in doubt, remind yourself of Culture Kings, a chain of streetwear stores that has in-house DJs and a barbershop in every store. I avoid Culture Kings as much as possible mostly because it’s not for me and I don’t relate to their atmosphere or style. But you won’t see the owners crying over losing my business. That is exactly what they want – to attract the crowd that identify with their culture.

Providing something that your clients can identify with (like an online forum, webinars, Zoom chat sessions, online programs, etc) is a great way to attract and retain their engagement.

 

The 5 strategies we went through to increase client engagement all follow the theme we started with: “Make clients feel valued”. We all appreciate feeling like we are being catered to and cared about. So, build a private practice that caters to and cares about your target clients’ needs and wants, and their engagement will follow.