The Wow Factor
Enchant your patients to create lifelong relationships!
By Connie Ziccarelli
It has been said, “If you do not take care of your customers, somebody else will.” This most definitely rings true in our competitive world of health care today. Not meeting the needs of our patients can lead to detrimental consequences in the form of the complainer—the consumer who leaves your office dissatisfied and proceeds to tell 8 to 10 people about their dissatisfaction with your services. In our competitive industry, this is a mistake we cannot afford to make. Consumers feel that all of their health care services are the same: The medical doctor experience they had will mirror the next visit, and this pertains to their physical therapist experience as well. In their eyes, one experience will be the same as the next. To reverse this thinking, we have to formulate a way to stand out from the competition by exceeding their expectations. Not only is it imperative to meet our patients’ expectations, but also we must “wow” them to the point that we have created raving fans.
Shifting further into quality care as an industry, our business has placed a larger focus on patient satisfaction. Many nights we have all laid awake wracking our brains on how we can better our Yelp and Google reviews and patient satisfaction survey scores. Oftentimes, subconsciously, we can tumble into a pitfall of pressuring our patients into providing high scores. The reality remains that satisfaction is simply meeting an expectation or dealing with a problem or complaint to their liking. Do we really only want to “satisfy” or is it in our best interest to shine identical to the brightest star out there? In order for that to take place, the emphasis needs to shift from striving to satisfy to delighting the customer. Delight is often termed engagement and loyalty, but the key message is that your customer must feel as if they never want to go elsewhere.
Implementing the value-added service of delighting our customers is the edge we need to ensure the chance of becoming the patient’s practitioner of choice. We must create a spark and trust as we delight them, and in doing so they have the opportunity to become our number one marketing tool; sharing their positive experience with family and friends. The challenge lies in navigating how to delight patients when they are coming to us during the most intimate times in their lives: after suffering an injury, illness, or chronic pain. How do we delight them? How can we provide a service that is normally dreaded and make it delightful?
Ensuring a delightful experience for our patients means being available to impress our consumers at every touchpoint possible. I have seen successful practices that have created raving fans through acts of value-added service such as offering patients who have waited more than 10 minutes for their appointment a water bottle with their logo, or issuing their graduated (discharged) patients a certificate of achievement and a gift bag to celebrate their accomplishment. There are other small things that delight patients, including prioritizing that they reach a real person via phone as opposed to an answering service. Having a front desk administrator hold the door open as patients are coming and going. The little things add up to big differences, which make memories that your patients will take home with them—and more importantly into their communities.
Creating raving fans and lifelong customers means moving away from the days of settling for customer satisfaction and embracing the WOW factor of delighting our patients. Focusing all efforts on creating that shining star experience could be the difference between success and failure. By delighting your customers you have the remarkable opportunity of creating raving fans and lifelong partnerships.
Connie Ziccarelli is the chairperson of the PPS Administrator’s Council. She is also the cofounder, principal, and chief operations officer of Rehab Management Solutions in Sturtevant, Wisconsin, where she manages, grows, owns, and operates a nationwide network of private practice physical therapy clinics.