New Patient BOO! or New Patient WOO-HOO!

Have you ever gone to a business, prepared to purchase only to be so let down with the low level of customer service that not only did you leave without buying anything but you actually left feeling bad/upset/frustrated/discouraged?  Of course, you might mention your poor experience to a few people in passing………

Called a business to be greeted coldly or greeted with “Can you hold please?”. Right out the gate you were completely informed, without words, how much you and your call matters. All  you want is for someone to listen to you, your need, your complaint and really hear  you. I believe that is all anyone in this life ever really wants to know and feel is that they MATTER. 

Now think about the most positive customer service experience that you have ever had. Look at Starbucks. The majority of these team players in Starbucks not only make you feel special but they remember your name, your specific drink of choice and mine even question my attire if I am not in my logo polo shirts asking me if I have the day off. Sometimes they will even shout my name (and others) when I walk in making me feel like NORM! from Cheers!

With all of this being said, how do you view your patient service? Does your practice deliver the most Amazing New Patient Experience ever?  Let me say, if you just answered “I don’t know” to this question chances are you are NOT delivering the most Amazing New Patient Experience ever. I encourage you to write down exactly what you want your new patients experience to consist of, then get to work on making it happen!

Every team member needs to be on board with building the connections with the patients. (one grumpy employee can ruin the whole experience. Grumpy is NOT allowed!) Let the patient “feel” how important they are to your practice – they ARE important to your practice, right? They deserve to be treated as such. Yes having amenities such as refreshment stations and warm towels are awesome, but that is not exactly what I am talking about. I am talking about personal connections. What I am talking about won’t necessarily cost you a dime yet your return will be priceless – in patient loyalty, referrals and trust.

It’s all in how you make someone feel.

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From the reason they picked up the phone to call your office, to the welcome they receive on that initial phone call to their very first visit in your office. It’s about building that connection – showing appreciation that they chose YOUR office out of the many they could have gone to; creating the loyalty and trust that will not only keep them in your practice but will encourage them to refer others. The ultimate goal should be for the patient to feel better walking out of your practice than they did walking in.

While my company and team provides virtual admin support, we thrive on building these connections. There is no better compliment we can receive than when a patient we helped for one of our out of state offices goes into that office and asks for one of us by name. (I even had an elderly patient that I helped in IL around the holidays show up to the office with a plate of homemade Christmas cookies, for ME! Of course Dr. C ate them all himself but it was the thought, and connection, that mattered!!) My point is that these relationships need to be cultivated, focused on and our connections are reflected in our success rate.

Do you have a low rate of new patient returns? Are you wondering where all your patients have gone? Have you endured patient complaints? Don’t expect a change unless you make one!

First, let me ask, for the hundredth time, to please call your own office to get a feel for the practice front line representation. Listen with “new” ears and ask yourself if this is someplace you would do business based off of the greeting, tone and overall feeling. If not, make some adjustments. Get your admin team training/support and provide the tools they need for success. Most the time its not that they don’t want to do it, it’s that they were not provided with clearly defined expectations on how each and every call should be handled. Don’t “assume” anything. This is your practice so you must be detailed to align yourself for the results you know you can see!

This should SCREAM from everything you do!

Start tomorrow by discussing at your morning huddle:

1) Create a unique greeting for your practice – one that will set you apart from the rest – We answer every single phone call with “It’s a great day!” and we MEAN IT! It leaves some patients giggle and say “WOW, that was nice!” and leaves some grumpy ones ask “What’s so great about it?”……. These are the ones I make it my personal goal to win over – I let them know my feet hit the floor today so that makes it an awesome day – and now what can I do to make their day awesome as well?

I called a business just the other day and had dialed the wrong number. Not only was the gal who answered the phone extremely pleasant, but she asked if she could assist me in finding the correct number! Impressive! 

2) The initial new patient call should be relaxed, friendly, and focused on the patient needs/expectations. NOT financials. (The new patient intake form should allow the gathering of the necessary information with reminders of courtesy) You can discuss the financial aspect without ever missing a beat in building the connection.  (again, training/support and the tools to succeed!)

Your new patient packet should be fresh, crisp, and be the most positive reflection of your practice. NO sideways copied, crookedly cut faded HIPAA forms……… NO cramming all of those forms in a regular envelope so they have to be unwrinkled to be able to be completed. You get the idea. (Check into submitpatientforms.com)

PS -Be available to your patients and potential new patients at least 45 hours a week – New patients calling want to schedule NOW – not when you get back in the office on Monday or after your lunch. NEVER, EVER leave a VM message stating that you are out to lunch for the next 1 1/2 hours….. If someone can only find time to call on THEIR lunch hour and is greeted with THIS – oooh is that frustrating. Go ahead, ask any mom you know.

You most likely spend thousands of dollars on marketing, all aimed at driving new patients to pick up the phone to call your office and schedule an appointment. If you aren’t answering your phones 1 or 2 days a week, you are WASTING a lot of those marketing dollars! You might as well be saying “Oh hey, come to our office, we’re great, but only call to schedule your appointment on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday!” Stop throwing your marketing dollars out the window! Show me an office with a full schedule, and I’ll show you an office that not only answers their phones but works their schedule at least 45 hours a week!

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3) Each new patient should be greeted immediately upon entering (like you’ve been waiting for them!), by name and with a “Welcome to Dr. Smith’s office!” and a handshake. Remember, it’s all about how  you make them feel.

4) If possible, give them a brief tour – showing them where the restroom is, treatment rooms, etc. (Treat them as if they are a guest in your new home!)

5) Each team member should take a 20 second moment to introduce themselves to the new patient and a “We’re glad you’re here!”…. 20 seconds. That is all it takes. Sometimes it might just not work this way but it should be the goal.

6) Each new patient should be “handed off” to the next team member with a brief introduction, ensuring the patient is always in the loop of their care, and what to expect next. 

7) The end of their visit should always be with a genuine THANK YOU and of course a handwritten thank you note sent out that day.

8) The whole New Patient Experience should leave them feeling comforted, relaxed and appreciative that they chose YOU. And now they can’t wait to tell their friends! 

Not one of these things mentioned will co$t you anything…. other than a positive attitude, giving the patient your time, and being appreciative. You want them to walk out of your office thinking “That was the most AMAZING new patient experience I have ever had!” and looking forward to their next visit.

What do you have going on in your office? New Patient BOO! or New Patient WOO-HOO!?

Deliver the most Amazing New Patient Experience starting NOW. Every patient. Every time. 

MB

Opportunity doesn’t quit calling just because you’re out of the practice… Let it call US!

Replace your boring, non-productive answering service with a relationship building, appointment scheduling AWESOME service!

330-639-1333

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One Response to New Patient BOO! or New Patient WOO-HOO!

  1. Brian Amison says:

    So true, Mary Beth. As usual, great post!

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