HOW TO CREATE AN AMAZING PATIENT EXPERIENCE
An essential piece of building a successful and profitable aesthetic practice is your patients’ experience inside your practice. How are you attracting new patients and retaining your current patients? How can you create a “patient for life?”. The answer is by making an impeccable first impression and offering them an exceptional experience that differentiates you from your competitors.
Your brand is the first step to success. Before you do anything else, you must establish or reestablish your brand. Your brand is the patient’s perception of your business and will cultivate a memorable impression on both prospective and current patients. Your brand should also tell them what they can expect from you and what you are all about. Founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, says,” Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Questions to Consider When Building your Brand:
- What makes your practice stand out from others?
- Who is your target clientele?
- What do you want to be known for?
- What are you best at?
- What problems do you solve?
You should not limit yourself and your brand to what your patients’ experience in the practice. Your brand starts from a digital platform and is promoted through marketing efforts. Digital marketing is the first touch point your patients will have before meeting you and coming to your practice. It is important to remember consistency across the board so that your brand is obvious throughout your patients entire relationship with your practice. From your website, to the phones, to when they walk in through your doors, all of these touch points are essential parts to your patient experience and should uphold true consistency.
The developer of The Golden Circle says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
Tell your patients the reasons you are passionate about what you do and why your business exists.
Digital Branding Considerations:
- User Experience – 42% of people say that they would not buy (or book online) from a poorly designed website
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
Did you know that 75-90% of your patients’ first impressions will be on the phone? Within the first 7 seconds of that phone call an impression has been made. Would their first impression of your practice be positive? If you are like many business owners, you may feel like this could be improved. Prioritize staff meetings, training and implement processes and procedures to make this a seamless and positive customer interaction. Poorly managed phones can result in lost patient leads and substantial revenue loss. Do you know how many missed calls your practice has each day? Week? Month? Are these calls ever returned and how quickly?
- Answer the phone in 2 rings or less
- The front desk should always answer the phone with an upbeat tone, and confidently state the name of the practice and their name.
- Ask for the caller’s name and address them by their name throughout the call
- If needed, ask for the caller’s permission to be placed on hold and try to limit transfers and hold times
- CREDENTIAL your practice and providers. Why should your caller choose you?
- Create excitement around the procedure or product being discussed and ensure all staff members answering phones are prepped to address basic patient inquiries, have FAQ and phone scripts handy for talking points.
- If a staff member can’t answer a patient’s questions, have a process in place to connect them with the expert. Everyone should be informed of this process. Everyone should have the same responses to questions.
The other most important impression is when your patients walk through your doors. What will they feel at that moment? What energy and aesthetic do you want to create? Does this feeling match the treatment results you are selling? Be sure to make the front reception area a top priority. It should remain tidy and free of clutter. Consider the fragrance of the room, and music selection and volume, and make sure the furniture is in good shape. This all sets a very important tone to your practice. Patients are choosing to visit and spend money at your practice for a reason. They should feel they received VALUE with their money spent. If you’re expecting patients to spend thousands of dollars with you, then they should feel like they were pampered with drinks, service, the whole experience, etc.
Patients should immediately be greeted with a warm and personalized welcome. Customer service is everything! If you can have a separate person welcoming and checking in patients (who is not answering the phones) that is ideal.
- Stand and greet patients by FIRST name only, as if you had been expecting them and looking forward to their arrival
- Engage and make eye contact, smile, demonstrate a willingness to help
- Give a tour of the office, let them know where the restroom is and a general idea of what to expect during their visit
- If the patient has to wait, keep them updated and constantly make sure they are comfortable while they wait.
- Always keep the front desk a professional environment
- Refrain from talking or laughing loudly
- Do not eat at the front desk
- Do not be caught looking at your cell phone
- Do not leave the desk unattended
- Do not discuss other patients’ personal business when it can be heard in the waiting area.
FOLLOW UP AFTER THE PATIENT LEAVES YOUR PRACTICE…
After the treatment, continue the communication. How you follow up with your patients will leave a lasting impression. Have a process in place that ensures all patients receive a follow-up after their treatment or consultation and ask for patient feedback. This will help improve quality of care, increase patient satisfaction and contribute to building long-term relationships.
Finally, do not forget how powerful the “thank you” can be. This can be in a few different forms, but the goal is to personalize your connection. Some ideas could be sending a birthday card with a birthday gift, thank you cards to patients who had a consultation, sending flowers after large procedures. Call your VIP patients personally and invite them to a special function or ask for their feedback when deciding on new products or procedures to bring in. Remember personal details about your patient’s life and family and bring them up in conversation.
THE EXPERIENCE NEVER ENDS…
Completing the Patient Experience:
The patient experience involves all of the above topics, but it doesn’t end there. Everything the patient experiences, from their very first experience to their last, is impactful. It can be a good exercise to spend a day in the life of one of your patients and secret shop your own practice. You can start by Google searching your practice. How accessible and user friendly is your website? How quickly does staff respond to all inquiries? Make access and scheduling easy, keep your wait times to a minimum and try to respond to all inquiries within 1 hour. You should also consider online scheduling and two-way texting as an added convenience as well. You could even have a close friend (that would be brutally honest with you) to “secret shop” your practice and fill you in with what went well and what didn’t go well.
Another piece to ensuring your patient has an excellent patient experience is understanding what matters most to them and focus on meeting their individual needs. If they are the nervous type, go above and beyond to calm their nerves and make them feel comfortable. If pain is a concern, highlight certain comfort measures that you will take to ensure they are comfortable. Maybe discretion is a priority, allowing patients to exit through the back door or come in after hours.