Ways to Improve Your In-Clinic Customer Experience
As a healthcare provider, your job is to ensure your patients get the most appropriate treatment in a timely manner. But a patient's experience in a doctor's office is much more than a consultation or a treatment. Customer experience in healthcare drives patient satisfaction and loyalty and has a direct impact on sales. Small changes at healthcare organizations can do wonders for patient satisfaction and patient retention. Please continue reading to learn more about how you can make the patient journey a positive one and attract more patients to your practice.
Why is it important to improve patient experience in healthcare?
You might think that providing high quality care is sufficient to create a thriving healthcare practice. But in the highly competitive healthcare industry today, doctors also need to provide excellent customer service to bring in new patients and retain existing patients.
The patient journey from a prospective patient to a recurring loyal client is a long one. It starts typically with searching online for an aesthetic provider or doctor and continues after the visit. Each step along the way should be designed to ensure patient convenience and good customer service.
Surveys have shown that 7 out of 10 patients say they would change doctors based on overall patient experience. Therefore, making patient experience a priority at your practice is essential for a successful healthcare practice. It will enhance patient satisfaction and ultimately lead to higher patient retention.
How can clinics improve customer experience and increase patient satisfaction?
Is your waiting room looking dated and worn out? Is the layout clunky? Most waiting rooms are basic with chairs, large tables, and old magazines. You can greatly improve customer experiences by making your waiting room warm and inviting. It is also a great opportunity to build your brand.
Consider investing in new furnishing or changing the layout to make your waiting room more appealing. Some aesthetic practices are even going as far as designing their waiting room like a coffee shop with comfortable chairs and coffee tables. Anything that makes waiting a more pleasant experience will lead to a positive experience for patients.
Your waiting room should be an inviting, soothing, stress-free environment. You can accomplish this by paying attention to wall colors, layout, furnishings, music, and more. For example, something as small as aromatherapy diffusers can create a relaxing spa-like environment. Use a mix of decorative wall art in the waiting rooms and informative posters with medical information in the exam room.
Foliage is one of the most cost effective ways to improve customer experience. Green plants not only help to clean the air and increase humidity, but also add color and texture to your décor. Plus, they make patients feel more relaxed and reduce anxiety.
Pay attention to lighting. Soft white lights are inviting. A too-bright waiting room can be intimidating. A poorly lit or dim room is no good either because patients cannot read or fill out forms. Use lighting to set the ambiance at your practice. Try to maximize natural daylight as much as possible. If your windows overlook a space that is unattractive, create a natural daylight effect using artificial lighting.
This is often the first thing patients see when they walk into your clinic - the reception area. It should be optimized for patient and staff convenience. Your team should have enough space behind the counter to work without feeling like they're falling over each other. The reception desk should be clean, organized, and free of clutter. The IT systems should be out of sight if possible. On the patient's side, there should be enough space to stand and fill out information with easy access to pens. Avoid placing brochures and catalogs on the reception desk - this can make it appear disorganized and cluttered.
Despite your best efforts to keep up with your schedule, appointments can run over, leading to longer than usual wait times for your patients. If this occurs, have a staff member explain and apologize. Most patients are understanding and would rather have a healthcare provider who provides quality care than someone who rushes through appointments.
Design your waiting room keeping longer waiting times in mind. Go beyond the usual old magazines and brochures. Some practices add coffee table books, iPads, or games to keep patients entertained. TVs are outdated because the volume has to be muted and patients cannot choose what they watch.
Think about how you can make your patients' waiting time more productive. Depending on your patient demographic, and provided you have the space, consider adding charging stations or working desks. Provide free wi-fi; if you do not want to give full access to everyone, make sure the wi-fi name and password is available upon asking. Use the waiting time to give patients relevant information about your services.
Not all practices can provide patients with luxuries, but if you have the budget for it, this is something that can ensure patients keep coming back to your clinic. Luxuries can include things like free refreshments, healthy snacks, coffee machine, massage chair, free samples, really anything that makes a patient feel special and appreciated the minute they walk into your practice.
If your patient demographic includes young parents who bring their kids to their appointments, consider adding a children's play area with toys, books, and healthy snacks.
Your medical and administrative staff play a key role in the patients' in-clinic experience. In contrast to the physical things like furnishings and luxuries, this is a psychological way of making patients feel appreciated. Make sure the front office staff is friendly, engaging, and caring. Also ensure the front desk staff keep the waiting room looking clean and organized. If possible, have your staff greet each patient by name, this can make people feel special and appreciated.
Your administrative staff should not only interact with patients at check-in, but also throughout their waiting time. Be sure to have the staff ask questions, offer refreshments, and make the wait time more enjoyable. This can greatly enhance the in-clinic experience.
An essential component of the patient experience at your practice is your online presence. Make sure you are listed in the major online directories accurately. You should also have a professional and clean website that makes it easy for prospective patients and existing patients to contact you. Remember, your website is a key component of your overall branding. It is often the first impression patients have of your clinic. Provide accurate and consistent information and use good quality photos of your practice. It is also a good idea to to add some testimonials from existing patients. This provides valuable feedback and helps foster trust.
The convenience and freedom to schedule appointments online at your practice is a good start to a positive experience. Some surveys suggest that over half of all patients like to make appointments online. The number is increasing every year. Make sure patients can easily book appointments via web browser, email, text, or an app like MeTime. Investing in a system that permits online scheduling will improve patient experience, keep your current patients satisfied, and attract patients.
Further, make necessary paperwork available online by offering patients the option to fill registration, intake, and other forms online. This allows patients to do it when its convenient and avoid completing it in the rush before an appointment.
Make it easier for patients to remember appointments by sending a booking confirmation and reminder. You can set up an automated reminders system to accomplish this. It makes a patient feel their time is valuable. It also helps to reduce (costly) no-shows. A recent survey found that 6-7 out of 10 patients prefer to get a text reminder before a scheduled appointment.
Set up the system to send confirmations by SMS/text and/or email after a patient makes a booking. Also send a reminder two days before an upcoming clinic appointment, perhaps asking for a confirmation. If they do not confirm, you can set up the system to send one more reminder on the day prior to the appointment.
After each appointment, make sure customers have a way to give you valuable feedback. This can be done through an automated survey via email or text. Despite your best efforts to provide quality care, an occasional dissatisfied client is not unusual. Not all feedback is going to be glowing online reviews.
Negative feedback is helpful to healthcare providers. It helps you identify pain points of customers and address them. If customers leave online feedback, respond promptly to both positive and negative reviews. A thoughtful response builds trust and shows patients you care for their opinions.
Remember that while responding to online reviews or feedback, you should not confirm that the person who has written a review is your patient. You also should not disclose any personal information such as their name, age, location, condition, or treatment.
Stay in Touch
Other than send appointment reminders to alert patients, another way to improve patient experience at your clinic is to stay in touch. You can do this by developing and sharing helpful content on your social media channels or website blog. This not only provides valuable information to your patients but also keeps you on the top of their minds. It can help attract more patients to your practice as well.
Develop content around what services and treatments are popular and patients want to know about. Answer the most frequently asked questions. Use this as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and authority. Use a combination of original articles and shared news articles or medical blogs from authority sites to provide healthcare tips.
You can also use email marketing to stay in touch by sending patients information about promotional offers, new services, and clinic news.
By improving in-clinic customer experience, healthcare providers can have happier patients and higher patient retention. The positive patient experience can help them retain current patients, attract new patients, obtain better reviews, and position their medical aesthetic practice head and shoulders above the competition.
High quality healthcare and results are both very important to an aesthetic practice, but it is the customer’s in-clinic experience that will bring your patients back for more treatments. And even more important, it will make it more likely that they recommend your practice to family members and friends.
So, think about your in-clinic customer experience and use these tips on customer experience. It will help drive more patients and improve your aesthetics or healthcare business.
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