Patients are the heart of your practice. In fact, they are the reason you are in business. As such, it is important to keep them happy. Happy patients are more likely to return in the future, and they are more likely to recommend you to their family and friends. Making your patients happy also means more good reviews, which likewise help your practice grow. By all means, you can treat your patients to new technologies and expensive amenities, but the things that really make patients happy are free. Here are five things you and your staff can do to make your patients happy or happier.
Your patients have bad days. They might be frustrated with their boss or spouse. Or maybe they are concerned about looming bills and financial obligations. Either way, patients might be in a bad mood before they even arrive. In response, a genuine smile goes a long way in turning the day around.
A baby’s smile can light up an entire room. A dog’s smile, by wagging its tail and prancing up and down in excitement, can completely change a person’s mood. Why? Because smiles express happiness and joy. When someone welcomes you with a smile, it feels like they are sincerely glad to see you.
Your smile shows patients that you are happy to see them. After all, they are what make your practice thrive. So why not share a smile to make your patients feel welcome and let them know that you appreciate them.
Your patients might not get the appreciation they deserve from colleagues, family or friends. But, you can be the person that appreciates what they have accomplished. Your practice then becomes much more than just a medical office. It becomes a place your patient knows will make them happy.
Compliment your patients on what they are wearing. Ask them about their lives. Listen to them and find something to praise. Did they recently get a promotion at work? Did they get engaged? Make your patients feel important by letting them know that what they do impresses you. That is what most people want—they want to be acknowledged. Be the person that does that for them and they will respond with steadfast loyalty to your practice.
People love to talk about themselves. Even more, they love talking about themselves when they have an audience that is interested in what they have to say. You do not need to be a brilliant conversationalist to leave a good impression on your patients. Instead, encourage them to talk about themselves—what they are proud of and what troubles them—and listen. Listening shows patients that you care about them.
What I appreciate most about my doctor—in addition to the fact that he is an excellent doctor—is that every member of his staff knows who I am. Even though they only see me every six months or so, they remember me and know my name, which makes me feel like they care.
If you and your staff make the effort to remember patients’ names, you will be rewarded with patients that are absolutely thrilled with your service. Your patients will in turn remember you, and want to help you and your practice succeed.
No matter what you do, not all patients will be happy all the time. Sometimes an otherwise minor or unintentional mistake on the part of you or your staff might set a patient off. Other times, patients might just be having a bad day and take it out on you or your staff. It is easy to react and argue, but the truth is, if you are drawn into an argument with a patient, you have already lost. Instead, try to listen.
A patient that berates you is venting. As much as that person might yell, they really just want someone to listen and empathize. No matter how the person acts, even if they are insulting you, it never helps to tell them they are wrong. If you want to diffuse the situation, it is essential to stay calm and respond in a friendly manner.
In short, when dealing with a complaint, let the patient speak. Make a genuine effort to see things from their point of view. Try to find points on which you agree. And, if you or your staff did something wrong—admit it. If possible, admit it before the patient says so. Talk through the complaint and find a solution. This approach offers a better chance of turning the patient’s opinion around, and might even help your practice grow.
Humans are emotional creatures. We want to be loved, to feel important and to know that other people care about us. If you give your patients that, they will keep coming back to your practice. And, they will be more inclined to go out of their way to help you—by writing a review or referring other people to your office. There will be patients who are not satisfied, no matter what you do to appease them, and they might leave a negative review. In these situations, try to respond with empathy, in the same way you would in person. For the most part, sharing these free tokens of kindness, friendliness and happiness will create mutual appreciation between you, your staff and your patients. And because of this, your practice will succeed.
Scott Bennett is a Director of Physician Service Operations at Intermedix. He has more than 25 years of experience in Medical Practice Management. Scott has a knack for increasing revenue, reducing expenses and improving patient and employee satisfaction.