Improving the Patient’s Consultation Experience
Never underestimate the value of a professional and pleasant first impression. From interactions with your staff to appointment wait times, the patient’s initial impression and experience at their consultation is a crucial determining factor to whether they become a patient or not. Oftentimes, patients will have already formed an opinion about your practice before you even walk into the exam room.
Great Customer Service is Always Important
Your staff is an extension of your credibility and training, so it is essential that your office environment conveys a sense of friendliness, organization and professionalism. Everyone in your office that interacts with patients should be viewing their communication and appearance from the client’s perspective to ensure they’re coming off as welcoming, professional and approachable. People are naturally drawn towards individuals who they like and feel comfortable around.
First Impressions Are Lasting…
If your front office is rife with gossip and rude behavior, this environment can undermine your efforts to build a successful practice. When patients observe staff gossiping, arguing or even maligning another patient, this significantly diminishes their trust in your organization and will inevitably make them wonder what the staff is saying about them when they leave.
In the age of online review sites where digital word-of-mouth is pervasive and long lasting, first impressions are everything. If a patient feels disrespected or disregarded by front desk staff, they may feel inclined to vent their frustrations on the web, which is the last thing you want.
Oftentimes, the doctor is the last to know that there are toxic personalities at the front desk. For physicians who want to know what’s going on in their front office, there are “mystery shopper” programs available where shoppers pose as patients to assess the quality of patient experiences at the front desk and in the waiting room. Alternatively, a friend or relative could also pose as a mystery shopper for you to observe how front desk staff are treating and interacting with patients.
Customer Service Training
The above issues can be addressed with some basic customer service training. This training should focus on how patients are greeted when they arrive at your practice, and how they are treated while in your office. A standard greeting should be established along with protocols for how to handle long wait times and unhappy patients.
It’s also recommended to designate a staff member to walk through the waiting area at set intervals to ensure the space remains clean and inviting. This is also a good opportunity to let patients who have been waiting awhile know they have not been forgotten about.
The consultation experience itself will vary from physician to physician, but good communication and genuine care are crucial at every level of the patient’s visit.
Stay tuned for the next post in our Sales Funnel Series – Follow-up.