It is no secret that patients carry out their own unique set of checks before they decide on whether or not to contact a service provider. These checks will vary from patient to patient depending on what is most important to them, but irrespective of this, the overall goal is to make the customer journey as seamless as possible.
In order to put themselves at ease and build trust in the organisation, some patients will check out the basics such as where they can park for an appointment and how easy it is to get to the provider. Others are likely to research how reputable the team providing the service is, what other users think about them and whether they seem like a suitable fit for their individual needs. This means it’s vital for providers to recognise their prospective patients’ decision triggers, and ensure that their online presence, the quality of the website and star ratings on Google or Facebook are as informative and personable as possible.
Learn your decision triggers
How do you do this? Create one or several fictional customer avatars, representing your ideal patient base for your clinic – maybe you are looking to attract more men or younger patients. By creating this avatar, you can brainstorm any challenges they may encounter when accessing your service and understand what their social triggers are.
To find out this information, you could conduct feedback questionnaires in-clinic or provide a link in a newsletter to an online survey for all your patients. Some questions you may ask include: how did you hear about us and our services? Did you find our website helpful, or could there be any improvements? How do you travel to the clinic? Did you check our social media before booking an appointment? These answers will help you to make improvements to your potential patients’ social triggers. It might be difficult to get patients to complete surveys, but by offering a free skincare product on their next visit or a discount code off a skincare bundle, patients may be more willing to help.
While every patient is different, each person has their own personal decision triggers. Below, I have outlined the simple ways to help improve your potential patients’ decision making and retain patients for the long-term.
Remember, when building trust, it starts with you. Prospective patients want to know exactly who they are dealing with, what you’re all about and who they would be seeing if they came for a treatment.
In 2022, data supplier Ipsos revealed that doctors and nurses were rated in the top six most trusted professions in the world, meaning that individuals are predisposed to have faith in you, but we must enhance this wherever possible to build on and maintain this trust long-term.1
As humans, we are programmed to respond to faces, with a recent study highlighting that the neurons in our visual cortex react more strongly to faces than to landscapes or objects.2 This means including pictures of your team on your website is going to be more attractive than a simple text-based page, or stock photos which don’t include any people. Sharing your team’s personality across all channels is a great way to boost trust and credibility.
Using pictures of your staff alongside some information about them helps make them familiar in the eyes of your patients. It takes a certain amount of trust to begin using a new clinic, so a ‘meet the team’ page can help begin that process by disclosing the qualifications and specialisms of those within your team, alongside some personal information. I’m sure you are already concentrating on customer service when patients come into the clinic, but enhancing your website allows this to be a key focus much earlier in the process.
Potential patients also want to find out as much information about you as possible before they decide to commit to you and your clinic. Create high-quality video content focusing on the team, the services you offer and any other relevant information about your business can work well on your website. Plus, depending on your customer avatar such as a younger demographic, light-hearted TikTok videos or an informative YouTube channel could further your patient-attracting potential.
Similarly, using video or photographic content on your website to enable patients to view your clinic’s main areas ahead of their appointment ensures that when they arrive, the familiarity is there, and they feel at ease. Whilst this sounds like a simple step, it goes a long way to create a better overall customer experience.
Even simply sending reminders to prospective patients before any appointment about where they can park, or how to access public transport near to your location can go a huge way in providing a seamless experience. Whenever your patient comes into contact with you – whether online, face-to-face, or through direct communication, make sure that you have everything they might need (or don’t yet know they need) covered.
Social media and online reviews
A personable website and online presence, as we have already established, can help build a rapport with people long before their scheduled appointment. With the social media sphere constantly evolving, it’s vital that clinic owners dedicate sufficient time and resources to ensure they’re always at the very top of the game.
At the end of 2022, Instagram was reported to be the most downloaded app with TikTok being the second.3 Its latest phenomenon, Instagram Reels, is increasingly popular – receiving 22% more engagement than regular videos uploaded to the platform.4 Furthermore, short form videos like TikToks are a great way to reach a younger demographic, with 22% of users being between the age of 18-24.5 Plus, you can reproduce videos on both social networks to reach more potential patients and raise your profile.
As well as utilising this latest trend, take advantage of Highlights on your page – have one dedicated for frequently asked questions, another for case studies and testimonials and a final one for your team, including your credentials. This way, everything a potential patient needs to know should be easily accessible all in one place.
As author Bob Burg said, “People buy from people they know, like and trust.”6 When shopping for a new TV, car or even just the latest toy, consumers read reviews and compare products. Aesthetic clinics are no different, and in fact, reviews are even more essential here, as the risks are much greater when it comes to making the wrong choice. Showcasing third-party credibility-boosters, including patient case studies and reviews, award wins and shortlists, PR and magazine articles, qualifications, accreditations and even star ratings such as on Google Reviews and Facebook, can help to reassure patients that they are in the safest of hands.
All this works to strengthen your authority, credibility and your ‘right’ to be recognised as an expert in your field. Therefore, keep a close eye on your star ratings on platforms such as Google and Facebook, as well as any other aesthetics industry platforms you have chosen to be a part of. A recent survey of 500 respondents found that 90% use online reviews to evaluate healthcare professionals.7 Therefore, it is important to check in regularly to ensure you are receiving the appropriate feedback and that your reputation precedes you, for the right reasons. Pulling these reviews through to your website as fresh content will also keep your website up-to-date and reassure a prospective patient who lands on your pages.
If you do encounter a negative review or low rating, however, the key is to be honest and transparent – reach out, respond in a professional manner and aim to resolve the issue wherever possible.8
Whilst it’s all well and good promoting who you are and what you’re about, it is equally important to display your credentials and help patients understand why your reputation would make you a good option for treatment.
In the digital age, your clinic’s first impressions are most likely to be made online rather than in person. Therefore, anything that can positively (and often unconsciously) influence a patient’s buying behaviour should be included, such as displaying qualifications, association memberships, insurance logos or work published in medical journals on your webpage or in your social media bio.
As author Daniel Kahneman discussed in his best-seller, Think Fast and Slow, humans on average make around 35,000 decisions a day; around 90% of these are fast and emotional, while only 10% are slow and logical.9 If you confuse people, they are more likely to doubt themselves, doubt you and doubt their trust in your service. Whereas if you provide all the information – whether through actively sharing, or subtly providing decision triggers (such as certificates and accreditations) – people will be more likely to make an instant decision. Work towards making their decision-making process easier by providing them with all the information they might need (such as any potential risks or aftercare required) so the trust can flourish.
Actively associating with other like-minded professionals is another way to improve your patients’ decision triggers, engaging with them online, collaboratively hosting a roundtable discussion or even attending an event together can help to increase your credibility and reputation within the industry.
One study has shown that when members of online medical aesthetic communities participate in discussions and support each other or offer mutual encouragement, there is an increase in trust between those professionals, community commitment and trust toward the community.10 As a result, social sharing and buying intentions are promoted via trust transfer.
In short, patients pay attention to the professionals they trust. Take part in those online discussions, offer your professional opinions in industry publications and absolutely own them. Building trust in the aesthetics community will build trust in you.
Trust is the key to any business
Boosting trust is the ultimate key to your clinic’s growth and success. By learning to recognise and adapt to social triggers, you are able to not only develop initial trust to attract new prospects to your clinic, but maintain it long-term while ensuring patients feel valued and appreciated.
1. Ipsos, ‘Ipsos Veracity Index 2022’, 2022, <https://www.ipsos.com/en-uk/ipsos-veracity-index-2022>
2. Axelrod V, Rozier C, et al., ‘Face-selective neurons in the vicinity of the human fusiform face area’, American Academy of Neurology, 2019.
3. Aneja S, ‘Instagram tops the list of most downloaded applications in Q4, 2022’, 2023,
4. Santora J, ’20 Instagram Reels Statistics that will Blow Your Mind’, Influencer Marketing Hub, 2022, <https://influencermarketinghub.com/instagram-reels-stats/>
5. Aslam S, ‘TikTok by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts’, Omnicore, 2023,
6. Burg B, ‘All Things Being Equal’, <https://burg.com/2010/04/all-things-being-equal/>
7. Hedges L, Couey C, ‘How Patients Use Online Reviews’, Software Advice, 2020,
8. Xu Q, ‘The Unhappy Patient’, Aesthetics journal, 2018,
9. Kahneman D, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
10. Wu JJ, Khan HA, Chien SH, Lee YP, ‘Impact of Emotional Support, Informational Support, and Norms of Reciprocity on Trust Toward the Medical Aesthetic Community: The Moderating Effect of Core Self-Evaluations’, Interact J Med Res, 2019.