Price shoppers annoy cosmetic practices for different reasons. Calls for prices can take precious time from the front office staff. Quoting prices by phone can be confusing — even misleading if one doesn’t include all the costs associated with a procedure.
And for those practices that try and nip the problem in the bud by refusing to offer prices by phone, there are customer service consequences, says Jonathan Kaplan, M.D., MPH, a plastic surgeon and developer of the BuildMyBod price transparency platform.
Telling people who call that a doctor won’t give cosmetic procedure pricing over the phone — only during an in-office consultation — is extraordinarily frustrating for the consumer, according to Dr. Kaplan, who presented “How to weed out price shoppers and tire kickers,” in July at THE Aesthetic Show.
“Do you really want the consumer to take time off of work, come in for a consultation, bear their deepest insecurities about their bodies, then, at that point, give them information about the pricing, when they might realize they can’t afford it? Why would you take the doctor’s and patient’s time to do that?” Dr. Kaplan says.
So, what’s a doctor or practice to do? Give consumers what they want, according to Dr. Kaplan.
For those calling Dr. Kaplan’s office, the office staff uses the accompanying BuildMyBod iPhone app. The staff enters procedures of interest into the app along with the caller’s name, email address and phone number. After submitting the wish list, the app automatically reveals the price on the screen. Since the office staff already captured the caller’s contact information, the office staff can tell the caller the price over the phone. And an automated email is sent to both the consumer and front office staff’s inbox for future reference.
While some callers would prefer not to give their contact information, they easily relent when the office staff explains the app can’t provide pricing without their contact information, according to Dr. Kaplan.
“If they want prices, give them prices, but do it in such a way that you, as the doctor, also benefit,” he says. “In addition to the app, we also have a price estimator on our website, where the consumer can go and see the list of procedures that we offer. They can add different procedures to their wish list. They don’t see pricing upfront; rather, they have to submit their wish list on our website by providing their names, email address, phone number and zip code. They get an email with a breakdown of all the costs, including the surgeon’s fee, the operating room fee, the anesthesia fee — a very complete estimate. Just like the app, an email is sent to the front office staff, who sees the patient’s contact information right off the bat.”
Dr. Kaplan says the approach is better than having a static list of prices on one’s website, because his platform captures consumer data in return for releasing pricing information. And it’s more efficient than responding to consumers by emailing them a list of practice pricing because the platform responds specifically to the consumer’s wish list.