Your reception is a face to your business. It is as important as your face is in making a great first impression. A book is often judged by its cover. There is no substitute for a pleasant smile.
You can make your reception work better for you in many ways. It welcomes your patients, puts them at ease, and provides you with double benefits. It represents a safe place and also gives you opportunities to market other services.
The reception is a place where your patients should not mind waiting. Never call it a waiting room. Call it a reception. Always look at it from a patient’s perspective. If you were walking into this place, putting your life into this person’s hands, what are you looking for? To confirm to yourself that you are in safe hands?
Patients always look for a sign or confirmation that they are in safe hands. They want to see cleanliness, good hygiene, and a place that is well-maintained. Use a pleasant room freshener, and keep your reception sparkling clean.
Display your mission statement in a prominent area. It heightens your credibility when people see that you are aiming for “excellence in providing medical services.”
Another great idea is to have a bulletin board showing employees of the month. It shows that your employees are working hard and being rewarded and recognized for what they do. This is another credibility booster, which goes a long way in conveying that “you mean business.” You care about their needs, and your employees are well paid, happy, and ready to serve them.
The bulletin board is also a great place to display fan mail and testimonials from other patients. Nothing can beat a good customer testimonial. Patients are looking for such things, which are signs that confirm they are in good hands and allay their fears.
Revamp your reception to show character and reflect personality. You want to present a feeling of comfort, warmth, tenderness, compassion, and understanding. Paint your walls in colors that reflect these feelings.
Provide patients with a feeling of compassion. The tones of your wall color should not be “hospital gray.” At the same time, don’t go overboard. You cannot choose bright orange. This is not a playschool. Put some thought into your color choice. These are places where hiring a professional, who has handled this kind of job before, can put you at ease.
There’s a reason why medical staff uniforms are specific colors.
White (good for uniforms, bad for walls) represents cleanliness. The warm green of attendees subconsciously conveys authority. The soft pink of scrub nurses is a sign of life. These are minute things that go a long way.
If your employees are well dressed and polite, you will win yourself more customers. People will CHOOSE to be treated at YOUR facility.
Distract your patients
Patients waiting to see a doctor are in a very delicate state of mind. They are either in pain, are frustrated, or angry-not necessarily because of the waiting-but waiting is one of the LAST things they want to do. It would be prudent and sensible to distract your patient from worries, fear, or simply plain boredom. Don’t forget to have daily newspapers and some common weekly magazines available. It adds a touch of familiarity and makes them feel at home.
It’s a great idea to have many joke books in the reception. Other good ideas are magazines about fashion or fitness and anything else that subtly depicts a good, healthy lifestyle. You might not want to choose medical publications, unless you are sure they are good ones. The idea is to distract the patient from reading anything related to their own bodies. A person with a fracture would not be particularly interested in knowing about “10 heart problems he might suffer from before the age of 40.”
Have some wall hangings but not something BLARING or conveying too much fun. You want to subtly distract your patients while they are waiting in your reception. Give them something to stare at, without making them look weird.
Play some soothing music. Instrumentals are a great idea. Radio is a very bad idea. No one wants to hear more bad news or rock music while waiting in the doctor’s office.
Assign a specific person for your reception
Train your staff to smile and welcome patients. Be nice to them in general. This is marketing advice for ANY business. Nothing beats a warm, welcoming smile. That’s what computers and machines CANNOT replace. It gives that human connection.
Designate a particular staff member to take care of patient needs in the reception. In most hospitals and clinics, the receptionist has to take care of the telephone calls, scheduling the doctor’s activity, filling out forms, and meeting incoming patients.
Your patients are your bread and butter. If you don’t take care of them, someone else will. In most medical situations, patients are having doubts, are fearful, or want something. Fulfilling these tiny requests and answering some (possibly silly) questions go a LONG way in giving good customer service. And it will cost you next to nothing. Just some clear thinking and you are ready for some WINNING customer service.
If your reception is manned by one person who is responsible for all the above-mentioned activities, that person is usually clueless when a patient walks in and asks a favor.
“Can I make a personal call?”
“Could you turn down the AC?”
“Where is the restroom?”
Do they oblige or carry on with being an efficient worker for you? Overworked receptionists are likely to show their frustration on your patients. Most of them are already distressed to some extent.
If you have one specific person helping out your patients, politely answering their queries, informing them in advance if it is going to take a little longer for them to see the doctor, basically, you have a personal relationship person whose only task is to put the patients at ease. Try this out and you will see a measurable difference in your business. Such personal service sets you apart from your competition.
Key points to remember
- Look at it from the patient’s perspective
- Take feedback and act on it
- Make sure every aspect of your reception puts the patients at ease
- Provide familiar distractions-TV, paintings, newspapers, magazines
- Subtly market other services through your reception area
- Make it a place where they will not mind waiting
- Hire a person to specifically address patients in your reception
- Train your staff to be warm, friendly, and polite
Ali Asadi’s Medical Marketing Toolkit is an indispensable guide for the medical business professional. He covers in detail such topics as designing an inviting reception area; marketing through brochures, newsletters, and your personal website; determining patient attitudes through surveys, and analyzing your competition. His 20 Golden Rules provide valuable tips for improving your business.
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