When you’re running your own business, it’s easy to get so caught up in balance sheets and scheduling needs. You want to make money, serve the community, and provide jobs to locals. In the midst of trying to do all that, don’t forget to make sure your customers are comfortable.
This is especially important if you’re running a medical practice, eye clinic, eye clinic, or another health-related service. Such visits can be especially stressful, and so you want to make sure you’re sending the right message to your customers. A patient who feels ignored or disrespected is less likely to return, and you don’t want them to associate health-related appointments with negativity or awkwardness.
Make the Environment Soothing
The first thing a patient or customer sees upon parking their car is the outside of your building. How does it look? Does it look neglected and unwelcoming, like a prison? You definitely don’t want people to feel like they’re walking into a prison. If the patch of land surrounding your building is weedy and overgrown, then it’s time to contact a landscaping company and ask about available outdoor solutions. A little bit of yard work can go a long way. Maybe you want to plant a small garden full of flowers that greets customers on their way in the door. Or if you have a lot of children who visit, you may want to consider adding a topiary garden with shrubs shaped like adorable, welcoming animals.
There are similar things you can do once people are inside the building. If the paint is chipped and fading, hire some painters to redo the walls in a calming color, like maybe a light blue or pale green. Play some relaxing music to let people know they’re in a safe, welcoming place. Many people find the look and sound of running water to be quite soothing, so add some strategically placed indoor fountains for them to gaze upon admiringly. These fountains don’t have to be large; many are small enough to fit on a tabletop.
Once the patient is called into the examination room, make sure to be kind and informative. Explain what you’re going to do; don’t just start doing it. That can be a very startling experience for patients. Feel free to make small talk, but don’t ask them to explain their life story while you’re poking around their mouth with medical instruments. It can be hard to give someone their personal space in such intimate situations, but treating patients with basic dignity goes a long way towards helping them feel comfortable.
Give Them Options
Phone anxiety is a very real thing. Plenty of people feel nervous when they realize they’re going to have to make a phone call. No matter how simple the phone call might be, they can just stare at the phone, unable to force themselves to dial the number. Luckily, more and more businesses are offering online appointment portals for patients. Companies like Solutionreach allow you to make a calendar of available appointment times. When the patient realizes they need to see you, they can just hop online on their phone, tablet, or laptop. It’s less stress for the patient, and it’s generally quicker than making appointments over the phone. Your office staff won’t have to put as many people on hold, freeing them up to take care of patients inside the office. For many people, it’s just much less intimidating to make an appointment online than to have to talk with a stranger on the phone. It’s also helpful for people to see the appointment on their screen in black and white rather than just be told: “Come in at 8:30 Thursday.” If you want, you can even allow them to sign up for automated email and text reminders as their appointment gets closer. It’s really a win-win for everyone.
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