“You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.” – Will Rogers.
First impressions are everything. Is your staff friendly? Do you have speedy service? Do you go above and beyond for your patients? All of these factors and more have an impact on the type of impression you leave on a daily basis.
Your staff is who your patients will interact with the most. They are the first people they see coming in and the last as they leave. If a patient is treated as a nuisance or just another appointment to get through, it does and will come off that way and will be a huge determining factor on whether they return to give you their business.
You have to earn a consumer’s trust these days, you don’t just get it because you’re a doctor anymore. Wow them with service.
Here’s 3 common ways patients are driven away and how to fix it:
- You don’t send them home with anything.This sends the message that you are only there to take from them. Yes, you are providing a service to them, which is why they came to you. What will keep them coming back are little tokens of appreciation that say, “Thank you for choosing us when you could have gone somewhere else!”
Have freebies. Provide complimentary refreshments, Wi-Fi, and goodies your patients can take home with them after their visit. You’d be surprised at how true the adage, “It’s better to give than receive” is.
- Your staff is unapproachable and rude.Put yourself in your patients’ shoes, would you enjoy going into an establishment and being treated as if you don’t know anything and are a nuisance? Absolutely not! I’m sure that experience with that front line staff stuck with you and negatively painted that business as a whole in your mind.
Train staff that the patient is always right.
Obviously the patient is not always right. The key here is training staff to have essential customer service skills. Conflict resolution 101, it’s not about being right it’s about solving the problem. Seek to understand, assume the patient is right, and have the mindset that you are on the same team.
Make the person in front of you feel special, important, and valued. Watch and see the difference in people’s attitude toward your practice change dramatically with just that.
- Having staff that provides B and C level service.I’m sure we all have experienced staff in any business that has provided poor quality in their service. This not only causes frustration on the patient experiencing the incompetent service, but it slows down the whole process for everyone involved. Not to mention you are paying this employee to do a bad job and essentially, help you lose money.
Providing efficient and excellent service will do wonders for not only behind the scenes but with your patients. Key principles help in this area: effective time management, attention to detail, and professionalism. Ultimately, this looks like hiring the right people to run your business.
Having experience doesn’t necessarily mean someone is good at what they do. Pay attention to references, the kind of work they have done and ask probing questions at the interview to pull out their knowledge of certain procedures. Give hypothetical situations that could happen in their day to day and see how they answer.
Other times it takes proper staff training to ensure quality control. It’s important to have an active role in the inner workings of your office staff. Check up on their work. Praise a job well done. Offer correction when needed. Another helpful thing for any business is having quarterly staff reviews. This offers a great opportunity to address things a staff member needs to work on as well as offer praise for doing a good job.
Increasing efficiency and providing a higher quality of service doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Usually it’s just a few tweaks here and there. The key here will be follow through and consistency. Making new habits and sticking to them will take commitment, determination and repetition.
Make a plan now for how you are going to check in 2-3 weeks from now to see how progress is going. If nothing has changed, it’s time to re-evaluate what’s working and what isn’t and address your staff accordingly. Even if just a few more patients were retained, pat yourself on the back, you successfully implemented good change in your office!