True that, right? All buyers are influenced, good and bad, by emotion.
Emotional connections with your patients can determine the strength, length and profitability of your relationship. Positive emotions build loyalty, trust and referral based growth. Everything that happens in your practice, from answering the phone, to what your restroom looks and smells like, affects patient emotion. Every single thing.
Think about it. You go to a furniture store… clothing store, knick knack store…… Where ever you can envision. You have something in particular that you are looking for. What directly affects your purchase tendencies that day?
If the store is dirty, cluttered and smells when you walk in, BAM – negative emotion. You see three sales people huddled in the corner all looking as if they a) just rolled out of bed b) haven’t washed their hair in days c) their clothes are a wrinkled mess and d) they don’t even acknowledge your existence – You tentatively approach to ask where the item you are looking for might be located but have to wait for them to finish discussing their drunk fest the night before. When they finally look at you, with that “WTF do you want” look on their faces and ask your question kindly, your negative emotion is on HIGH now as they sigh at your existence and “help” by a pointing a narly, nasty, half painted fingernail clear across the store and an annoyed “Its over there” response. All within 30 seconds, your sight, smell and emotions have been negatively charged, most likely to the point where you will turn around, walk out and tell your friends to NEVER bother going there, right? You shut your purchasing, feel good emotions down quicker than ice cream melting in hell.
Now, lets reverse. You enter the establishment to be greeted by a soft soothing scent, everything within your eyes span is in order, clean, organized and coordinated. Hmm. Different emotions going on right? You are immediately greeted with cheerful hello’s from the sales team, who appear so friendly and warm that they might have actually been anticipating your arrival. Not overbearing, but kind and letting you know that YOU are their priority. WOW. These are some feel great emotions, correct? They approach and ask what they might be able to help you with… You notice they are professionally tidy – neat hair, clothes, seem to have bathed recently, and SMILE. You tell them what you are looking for and they offer up a friendly “Yes, we have that item – please follow me and I will show you where it is located” and they proceed to walk you to the exact item. Now, you are pleased. Here’s the item you are looking for, you are being treated as a valuable customer should be and WOW! Now, the sales person also mentions the item next to the one you were looking for… How it will complement your original item. They ask what this item might be being used for (personal connection) and offer up a few more suggestions to present a whole package. They chat pleasantly and by the time you leave, you realize you’ve purchased everything they recommended and willingly forked over the dough. You go home to show your best friend your purchases, and proceed to talk about how awesome this store was.
Here’s the kicker. These were the SAME stores in two different towns. They carry the same merchandise and have the same price points. How on earth could they be so far apart? And guess which store you will most likely frequent again… Positive relationships build loyalty.
“Friendly makes sales – and friendly generates repeat business.”
EMOTION. It funnels down from management making emotional connections with team members, and the team members carrying that forward to the customer. Clearly outlined expectations of the job/service to be delivered; by whom, by when and how.
So, what emotions are you building in your practice? Are you focused on building relationships, or just scheduling appointments? I called an office last week, to be greeted by the nastiest FD person I have EVER encountered. She answered the phone with a clipped, cold “Dr. Smith’s” and then just sat there. I was not only appalled, but stupefied at the thought of how could this dentist NOT know this crab was the first insight to his practice from the outside world? Seriously? Her nasty greeting instantly put my emotions on “negative”. She did not, by the way, get any nicer throughout our short conversation. Bad day or not, THAT type of behavior is unacceptable in your office.
How about when, as a new patient somewhere, you go in, sign in, sit down and not one person greeted you? They call you back up to the desk in the most unfriendly tone to gather your information – hand you back your insurance card and then turn and walks away. Ok – you guess you are supposed to go sit back down – you’ve been waiting for 15 minutes and it’s now 10 minutes past your appointment time and yet no one has said ONE word to you, or welcomed you to their office. You realize that NO ONE in this whole office is glad you are here. Negative emotion overload.
Flip side – you are greeted as if they have been personally awaiting your arrival with a warm WELCOME! and a handshake. You are guided through the necessary information and asked to please have a seat and even offered a refreshment. You are told that the office is running about 15 minutes behind, but reassured that your visit will not be rushed because of this and asked if this will still work with your schedule today. Your comfort and emotions are being attended to. This is positive emotion overload.
Here are a few crucial points to review and possibly revamp within your own practice:
1) Who is answering your phone? HOW are they answering your phone? If you have Mrs. Crabbipants answering, you are going to seriously want to consider re-training or re-assigning positions. This is THE point person and you cannot afford to settle for anything less than FABULOUS! If you have had numerous patients complain about crabby pants, or worse yet tell you they won’t be coming back because of specific employees you have a RED ALARM that needs immediate attention.
2) New patients (well, ALL patients) should be greeted upon arrival as if you have been personally awaiting their arrival. A handshake and a warm welcome to new patients, an offer of refreshments and possibly a quick office tour. Every single new patient. Every single time.
3) Every team member should make a point to greet the new patient – Doesn’t have to take much time but as they are walking by the treatment room they can pop their heads in and offer a quick “Hi Mr. Smith! I am Erin, Dr. Smith’s assistant! It’s a pleasure to meet you”… Can you imagine the positive emotion overload from every single one of your team mates doing that? This behavior creates the emotional connection – It shows the patient that it matters that they are here in your practice. (That is all anyone if life really wants to know is that they matter)
4) Patients are more likely to move forward with recommended treatment when they trust you and have formed that emotional connection with you and your team. I spoke with an office a few weeks ago, where the hygienist had been discussing the patients undone treatment with him – The hygienist casually mentioned the treatment, and sat down, looked at the patient in the eyes, and said “What is preventing you from moving forward with this?” As she continued her honest and earnest conversation she found out that the patient was really worried about how the treatment would end up looking as it was his front teeth. The hygienist helped the patient understand and educated him to the point where he was HAPPY, excited and ready to schedule. The hygienist walks the patient up to the FD and lets the admin team know that he is ready to schedule. Ok. Here’s where it gets good. The admin person looks at the patient and asks “Do you want to go home and think about this some more and call me back, or did you just want to schedule now”.
Oh. My. Gosh. Facepalm. The point of this story is that the whole team must be working in unison on creating the emotional atmosphere and keeping it flowing from all points within the office.
5) Your goal should be to have the patient leaving feeling better, and happier than when they arrived at your office. A genuine THANK YOU goes a long way.
6) Post op calls – even to new patients who have been presented with an overwhelming treatment plan to ask what questions they might have. Go the extra mile – you’ll run into less competition there.
7) How is your office represented in appearance? Not only your office, but your team? Sloppy anything builds apprehension. Clean, organized and professional builds trust and assurance.
8) Never, ever under-estimate the importance of you and your teams smile. Be that practice that your patients can’t quit talking about how you guys are the nicest, happiest group of people on the earth. Yeah, be THAT practice.
Remember, they may not remember what you say, but they WILL remember how you made them feel.
Get together as team and focus on reading information on how to best build these emotional connections. You will notice the direct impact on your practice immediately. Personal connections that build positive emotions are the stuff success is made of.
Here’s to implementing the challenge of building relationships in your practice. It takes consistent hard work, but oh the rewards you shall reap.
(This post is in tribute to the most fabulous motivational speaker ever, Zig Ziglar. He impacted so many lives, and still does. His impact is all based on emotion. RIP Zig!)