There’s a little organic bakery around the corner from where I live. Their food is amazing, but that’s not what keeps me coming back. It’s the experience. Whenever I first walk in, I’m hit with the delicious smell of chicken soup simmering in a warmed bowl – like it’s waiting there just for me.
As soon as I walk through the door, the owner steps from out behind the counter and personally greets me. Within moments, she’s asking how my day has been and we chat briefly about what a beautiful day it is outside.
Fifteen minutes later, my credit card is pulled out, and I’m paying for waaaay more than I originally wanted. And I strut out the door grinning from ear to ear. And I feel compelled to tell everyone else about this little secret gem of a spot.
And that got me thinking. This is the same approach we as wellness practitioners should be taking with our patients. Now, I’m not saying to greet your patients with a bowl of chicken soup. But, how can you welcome your patients in such a way that they become raving fans who can’t help but tell everyone about you and your practice?
Here are five easy ways you can do just that.
1. Greet Your Patients by Name
Whether it’s fighting traffic or feeling a bit nervous about their appointment, your patient is going through a lot before they even walk through your doors. How you and your staff interact with them can make or break their experience with you. So, start off on the right foot by greeting them well.
Encourage your staff to smile and use your patients’ names when greeting them. If possible, have your staff stand to greet your patients when they walk through the door. This shows your patients you have an interest in them as a person and not just another random visitor. It reinforces to them that they are very important and you respect them.
2. Minimize Patient Wait Times
No one enjoys showing up for an appointment only to have to wait around. But oftentimes, that’s what happens. And usually, they’re hit twice with waiting – both in the waiting room and again once they’ve been taken to the treatment room..
Practitioners and patients aren’t always on the same page when it comes to what they think about waiting. In fact, 63% of practitioners believe that their wait times don’t have much, if any, impact on their ability to retain patients.1 But for the patients waiting, the picture is completely different:2
- 1 in 4 have changed providers specifically to avoid waiting a long time
- 22% of patients have actually walked out of a waiting room because of long wait times
- 1 in 4 patients have told others not to book with a certain practitioner due to long waits
So, wait times matter. While it’s not realistic to promise there will never be a wait time, here are three ways you can make it less frustrating for them:3
- Proactively let your patient know they may have a wait. It’s okay to tell them you don’t know exactly how long the wait will be, or you can provide a time range.
- Apologize specifically for delays. Although the long wait may have been out of your control, addressing it with your patient goes a long way, and ultimately shows them you respect them and their time.
- Help them pass the time. Make sure your waiting room is engaging. More on that in a minute!
These steps will go a long way in helping your patients have a more positive waiting experience.
3. Don’t Skip the Small Talk
More often than not, your patients feel nervous when coming to see you. Their health conditions may be weighing heavily on their minds, and they feel worried or stressed about it.
This is where small talk can help. As they’re checking in or walking back to the exam room or adjustment table, strike up a conversation with them. It doesn’t have to be overly involved or in-depth. It could be something as simple as:
- How their day is going
- What the drive was like on the way over
- If they caught the big game last night
The goal is to make them feel welcome by engaging them like you would a friend or family member when they walk into your home.
4. Help Them Get Comfortable
Instead of jumping immediately into paperwork, help your patient get comfortable first. One way to do this is to have your office staff come out from behind the front desk and take a few moments to show them:
- Where they can hang their coat
- Where they can find the restrooms
- Where the coffee, tea, or water is located
- Where the magazines, books, or puzzles are (or whatever you keep in your waiting room!)
This small gesture doesn’t take long but can really help your patient feel like the VIP they are.
5. Spruce Up Your Waiting Room
Speaking of coffee, tea, and magazines, let’s talk about your waiting room for a minute. If you had to tell me what your waiting room was like, how would you describe it? Is it…
- Dimly lit with dying plants and old, stained carpet?
- Cold and sterile with the news blaring in the background?
- Warm and inviting with comfortable chairs and soothing music?
Your waiting room reflects your practice, so look for ways you can add that personal touch to it. Stop by Home Goods and grab some new throw pillows, a few plants, and unique art. Commit to regularly sprucing up your waiting room so that it reflects the phenomenal service you provide your patients.
(Not feeling like Chip and Joanna Gaines? Consider handing off your interior design needs to the professionals. There are actually businesses dedicated to designing healthcare practices. Might be worth checking out!)
Improve Your Patient’s Experience Today!
Providing a knock-out patient experience for your patients sounds a lot like how you’d host a friend at your home. You’d greet them with a warm welcome, help them get comfy, offer them something to drink, and engage with them. You’d go out of your way to make them feel important.
The same goes for your patients. If you’d like more ideas and tips on how to improve your patient’s experience, hop over to the podcast episode 6 Ways to Improve Your Patient Experience. While you’re there, be sure to snag my free guide on 10 Ways to Make Your Patients Feel Welcome.
I can’t wait to see how you’re going to spoil your patients!
1. (2020, October 6). Reducing Patient Wait Times in Practices: Data… – Software Advice. Retrieved March 28, 2021, from https://www.softwareadvice.com/resources/reducing-patient-wait-times/
2. (2019, July 8). The psychology of the wait time experience – what clinics can do to …. Retrieved March 28, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6615172/