Should health professionals ever offer a money-back guarantee?


woman with yoga mat

I had an interesting conversation with a copywriting client of mine recently, about whether they should offer their chiropractic clients a money-back guarantee if their pain or symptoms hadn’t been fixed within a set timeframe. A bold move, but is it a good idea?

Should healthcare providers ever offer a money-back guarantee on their website?

Let’s consider why you might want to do this.

A no-questions-asked refund is a classic example of trigger copy. It’s a risk-reducer for the potential client. It demonstrates your confidence in your service, signals the quality of your offer and reduces friction at the moment of purchase.

Trigger copy placed near the sign-up button or on the cart page offers reassurance to the customer, so they’re more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their purchase. You’ve probably spotted this before on the sales pages for online courses and SaaS products.

For anyone who’s on the fence, this can be a great way to build trust and nudge them towards signing up. You’re literally telling them they’ve got nothing to lose.

Now, this makes sense for tangible products the customer can touch, feel, use or try on. It’s why I have no qualms about ordering new Nikes online, even when the likelihood of finding a blister-free fit is slim. No probs – I’ll just send them back if they’re too tight. (And yes, I’m on first-name terms with the Post Office staff.)

But what about one-to-one services, like personal training, chiropractic, dentistry or nutrition coaching? Can someone really expect their money back for a service that can’t be ‘returned’? Can you really offer any kind of guarantee for something with so many intangible variables?

And is it even ethical to guarantee a health outcome?

The money-back problem for health pros

It’s not unusual for healthcare or health coaching clients to get results that don’t quite match their expectations. It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault. They might even make great progress – just not quite what they hoped for. Maybe their expectations were misaligned. Maybe they can’t get over the fact that despite making huge improvements compared to when you started working together, they’re still not in as good shape as they were five years ago.

Lots of factors can affect their outcomes, many of which are nothing to do with you. If you’re a nutritional therapist, you can work your ass off coaching your client to make small steps towards their goal, but if they get flu and have to spend a week in bed, should you give them their money back because their progress has stalled? That seems a little unfair.

What’s more, in many cases, health, life and career coaching are actually more effective when the client has skin in the game. When they’ve made a financial investment in your services, they’re far more likely to stick to the process than if they think can just ask for their money back at any point.

Alternative ways to reduce sticker shock

So a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee may not be an ideal fit for many health businesses. How else might you signal your confidence in your services and reduce the perceived risk for the client?

Here are a few suggestions for alternative ‘trust triggers’:

  • Include testimonials and reviews. Whether sprinkled throughout your copy or carefully positioned next to the ‘contact me’ button, social proof is a tried and tested way to reassure clients of the excellent decision they’re about to make.
  • Qualify your money-back guarantee. A complicated refund policy could do more harm than good, but if you would like to offer a guarantee, consider putting some simple restrictions on it. For example, perhaps they have to show they’ve followed your programme for a set period of time and still haven’t got the results they hoped for, in order to get their money back. This can actually ramp up the believability of your claims because you’re essentially saying ‘if you follow these exact steps, you WILL see results.’ Of course, you can only do that if you’re sure that’s the case…
  • Try a value-back guarantee. Rather than offering to reimburse their financial investment, you could offer to work with them to develop a plan to make sure they feel they’re getting the value they expected. Frame it as though you’re on their side – you don’t want them to miss out, and you’re happy to do (almost) whatever it takes to help them get the outcome they want.
  • Let your confidence act as a guarantee. Guarantees can sometimes feel a bit salesy, especially in the health space. Worded carelessly, they can imply that it’s common for clients to have to ask for a refund. In some cases, the absence of a guarantee is more powerful – you’re not even considering the possibility of them not enjoying a great service. Simply don’t mention it. Or, if it first with your services, brand and voice, consider making a bold statement about your no-refund policy in your FAQs.

In an ideal world, you won’t need to make any refunds at all. Churn is costly, so the best option is to reduce the risk of tire-kickers and unqualified leads in the first place. Do the upfront work needed to make sure their expectations match reality.

Build trust with your audience by demonstrating your methods through a strong inbound marketing strategy (such as sharing your best advice through blog content, email newsletters, podcasts or video tutorials). Then, when it comes to the sale, include information on who your services are NOT for in your FAQs, so the tire-kickers can rule themselves out. (And as a bonus, the folk who are already committed to working with you will double down on that intent when they self-identify as a perfect fit.)

If you have a healthcare or health coaching business and you want to give your website some lead-generating TLC, get in touch and let’s see if I can help.

Article first posted on LinkedIn.

(📷: Brandless on Unsplash)


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