You know that growing your practice is an ongoing effort. And that’s why the question: “How can I keep building my business?” is always in the back of your mind.
Of course, there are many ways to grow your practice.
Some of the more obvious ways to do that include:
- Networking with other providers.
- Contacting community agencies.
- Placing ads in local and specialty newspapers.
- Handing out brochures and business cards.
- Building and maintaining your website.
- Publishing articles on your website.
- Posting to your social media accounts.
- Publishing an online or offline newsletter.
- Staying in touch with patients via email.
- Sending out press releases.
However, there are some marketing strategies most practices don’t consider.
The one marketing strategy I’ll be focusing on today is building your practice by consistently over-delivering.
Yes, the concept is simple. You wow your customers by “under promising and over delivering,” thereby giving them more.
In essence, you exceed the expectations of your patients or customers.
Let me give you an example.
Let’s say you’ve just placed an online order for a new coffee maker. After you receive the package you can’t wait to set it up; you’re so ready for a delicious cup of coffee!
So you open the box and to your surprise and delight, the company included a small package of your favorite coffee beans.
You didn’t expect to receive coffee with your new coffee maker. But no complaints; they over-delivered on their promise, and you are thrilled.
Think this can’t be done in health care?
After all, who would want “more of”:
- Their blood drawn?
- A breast exam?
- Another rectal exam?
- Another vaccine on top of the flu shot?
- Feel free to fill in the blank…
Nobody does; at least usually nobody does!
If anything, your patients would bolt for the door if that’s what you’d offer them.
But of course, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m not talking about given your patients more of a “clinical thing.”
What I am referring to is giving your patients more of you and your clinic. I’m talking about giving them a better experience when they come in to see you.
Still a bit confused? Alright, let me explain.
You probably already know that many patients are not thrilled with the health care they receive. Based on a 2013 survey from “The Consumer Reports National Research Center” patients even have a hierarchy of complaints.
Here are the top five gripes reported by the surveyed patients:
- Their problems don’t get explained well enough.
- Test results are not communicated in due time.
- Billing disputes are hard to resolve.
- They feel rushed during their visit.
- Long waiting times in the exam or waiting room.
That’s right… These were the complaints that made the top of the list.
I invite you to take another look at this list. What do these complaints have in common? All of them are in areas of your practice that are within your control.
And Here’s Your Opportunity…
It’s an opportunity for you and your clinic to do things differently and better. So why not pay attention to the most common complaints patients have and address them from the get go.
And frankly, I don’t think that should be too difficult for you.
Because many Nurse Practitioners already do that to a large degree.
- Most tend to take time with their patients.
- Most tend to listen to their patients.
- Most tend to explain to their patients.
But of course, there is always room for improvement.
Also, when you provide a better experience for your patients, you’ll set your office apart from those satisfied with providing an average experience. And beyond that, you’ll make a difference in how your patients experience their healthcare.
How Do You Over-Deliver?
But how do you go about over-delivering in your office? How can you do it without losing productivity and revenue to meet your bottom line?
Let’s take just one of the gripes people have and see how you can over-deliver even there.
Let’s talk about long wait times… First in the waiting room and then in the exam room.
You’re probably thinking: “That can’t always be avoided…” And you’re right.
But here’s the thing, you don’t have to have zero wait time to over deliver. Having said that though, I think your office should make every attempt to eliminate unnecessary wait times by improving the way you schedule.
But if you should run into a longer than the normal wait time, let people know the following:
- Let patients know there will be a long wait for their appointment.
- If possible let them know the reason for the delay (provider is on the phone with ER, etc.)
- If at all possible let them know how long it may be before their appointment.
- Let them know so that they may run an errand.
- Or give them the option of rescheduling altogether.
Of course, the same applies once someone is in the exam room. Don’t move patients into the exam room only to let them sit there. Keep them updated if the provider won’t be there within a reasonable time.
While nobody enjoys having to wait for an appointment, most patients don’t mind waiting as long as they’re told and know the reason why.
Because when you tell people what to expect, you signal to them that you respect their time.
And don’t all of us want to feel respected? I know I do.
This is just one example of how you can consistently over-deliver in your office. And often, all it takes is a minor adjustment in how you do things.
Unfortunately, most offices don’t seem to be overly concerned with providing a good customer experience to their patients.
But not you; your office will stand above the rest.
You already provide quality healthcare to your patients. And now you’ll also be taking the extra steps to over-deliver on customer service in your office.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.“