By Patrick Creagh, Marketing Specialist

blogbfpicAfter the family, food, and football subsides, around 1 in 3 Americans will set out to participate in the shopping extravaganza known as Black Friday.  Given that taking advantage of Black Friday chaos requires equal parts savvy and survival instincts, it seems incredible that upwards of 225 million folks could be getting up at 4 AM to hand stores their hard-earned money.

If you are a provider reading this, you may feel a tiny bit of jealousy of said retailers since patients (presumably) aren’t lining up at your hospital in the wee hours of the morning to pay off their statement balances. However, there are some lessons you can take away from Black Friday to help you improve your patient payment collections. Here are our top 3:

Offer incentives.

The reason we get up so early on Black Friday is obvious: door busting deals that only come once a year.  While paying your statement balance may not be as exciting as buying a flat-screen TV at 50% off, you could offer incentives to your patients to encourage prompt payment like a 10% discount for paying online or paying in full.  Also, you might consider offering payment plans or creating ways for patients to pay in installments to handle large “purchases” a little at a time.  Research has shown that like in retail, incentivizing consumers can go a long way to positively influence patient payment behavior.

Provide multiple channels to complete a transaction.

Nowadays, you don’t have to go wait in line to get the best deals if early morning shopping frenzies are not your thing. Retailers have figured out that providing multiple ways to make a purchase, whether online, over the phone via catalog, or in-store, gives consumers choice in their transaction, which in turn yields greater profits for the retailer.

Along the same lines, you could offer multiple ways to pay to suit customer preference. If a customer prefers to pay by phone (as many seniors do), do you offer that option? Do you offer an easy online payment experience? Can patients mail you a check with correspondence about their bill? If your payment channels are your “stores”, it makes sense to have the ones your customers want.

Have a prepared customer support team

Anticipating increased traffic, many stores like Wal-Mart hire off-duty police officers and staff extra shifts throughout the store. Without the right amount of customer support, these stores could quickly dissolve into hoards of angry shoppers.

When millions of dollars of patient revenue are on the line, how effective is your customer support?  Are your patients able to make transactions seamlessly and without technical difficulty? Is your billing staff assisted by incredible vendor-side support?  Does your vendor have a customer support team standing ready to help? Having the right team in place make all the difference and can help you increase payments as well as improve patient satisfaction.

Now go forth and enjoy that turkey.