Risk of Ignoring - The Other ROI

I’m sure you’ve been in conversations with your executive team about launching a new alumni initiative and the question about ROI inevitably comes up. Most of the time we think of ROI as Return On Investment. Oftentimes the return on investment for alumni initiatives isn’t immediate. I want you to consider another ROI - Risk of Ignoring. Unlike return on investment, ignoring your alumni will have immediate negative consequences for your treatment center.

Every treatment center *thinks* they’re doing a good job engaging their alumni. But look at the data and ask yourself the following questions.

  1. What are the phone connect rates for follow up calls?

  2. How many alumni are attending events?

  3. How many alumni are opening the email newsletters and updates?  

Your alumni have spent 30 days or more going through some of the most challenging experiences of their lives. During that time they built an amazing bond with your treatment center staff and other alumni. Once they leave treatment and go home how do they feel?  Oftentimes they feel alone, isolated, and ignored. These feelings will negatively impact outcomes, referrals, and reviews for your treatment center.

The first few weeks after leaving treatment the risk of relapse is the highest. These first few weeks and months are when your alumni need you the most. How are you providing value to your alumni during this time? What are you doing to give them the support and encouragement that is necessary during their early recovery? If you don’t provide the right support at the right time your alumni will face higher relapse rates.

Treatment centers look to alumni to help make quality referrals. Alumni referrals are earned through providing a great experience and building a long lasting relationship. The relationship starts once treatment is over and must be built over time by providing support and resources to alumni post treatment.  Alumni who feel alone and isolated are not going to return if they need additional care and will not refer friends and family who are looking for treatment. When putting together an outreach plan for alumni, think about what *they* need and want. What is important to your alumni during the first few months post-treatment? Remember, as a provider you must always be delivering value.

Reviews are playing an increasingly important role in where patients go for treatment. Over 39% of all patients look at reviews prior to contacting a treatment center. Even if you have good reviews now, you must be concerned about how one negative review will impact your overall score. The key to strong online reviews is to have a steady stream of positive reviews to diminish any negative reviews. Alumni are a great source of reviews, however, alumni reviews are earned. How are you encouraging alumni to write reviews? Have you invested enough in the relationship so they will share the message of hope and healing with others?

We all want results as fast as possible. There is a very clear return on investment with alumni programs, but it takes time and effort. We must be actively investing in our alumni if we want to help with outcomes, referrals, and reviews. There are no other options, we must invest in alumni or they will feel ignored and the risk of ignoring is far too great.