First impressions are everything. But did you know last impressions are almost as important? If we put this theory of impressions into practice, we’ll actually find there are some valuable lessons when it comes to running a successful clinic.
The psychology of impressions
In the field of psychology there is a measurable phenomenon known as the ‘serial position effect’. Explained in 1962 By Bennet Murdock, the effect is evident when you ask participants to read a list of random words.
Almost invariably, those participating will be able to recall the first few words and the last few words with great accuracy – the middle words, however, are the hardest to recall.
This ‘serial position effect’ can be put to use when thinking about your front desk experience. In fact, you apply it to almost any matter of customer service or communication.
When a client first approaches your clinic, you need to leave a lasting first impression which leads to repeat business and brand loyalty. Similarly, your front desk will be the last thing they experience when sorting out their payment and/or booking a future session before they walk out the door.
The mission now becomes more obvious: your front desk experience needs to be as positive and powerful as it can be to leave a lasting, optimistic impression. This positive impression will lead to better sales, repeat business and word-of-mouth marketing. Neglect it at your peril.
Truly excellent customer service is crucial
The moment a new client walks into your clinic, they’ll likely be feeling unsure and want direction. It’s the front desk’s job to help make the client comfortable, answer questions and alleviate complications.
Do they need to fill out a form? Do they need to simply take a seat and wait? How long is the wait time? You’ll need attentive, knowledgeable and well-trained staff to create this experience.
Make time to commit properly to customer service. Sometimes it’s easy to point your client to a seat, say you’ll be with them and then disappear to tend to other tasks. Please avoid this (you have already wasted your first impression).
“When you’re busy, avoid taking the quickest action. Instead make the extra effort to truly serve the customer.” ― Marilyn Suttle
To nail customer service you need knowledgeable, attentive, courteous and well-trained staff to professionally greet and guide a new client through the initial front desk experience. You don’t get a second chance at this.
Give yourself a unique and memorable edge
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” ― Oscar Wilde
Make your impressions as boldly and uniquely as you can. What can you add to the front desk experience that puts you a cut above your competitors? What will make it distinctly you?
You need to create an environment which is both warm and professional, as well as fit for purpose and well branded.
You can cheat here by doing some real investigative research. Go ahead and get bold by visiting a few competing clinics in the area to enquire about their services. What’s their experience like? What’s the waiting space like? More importantly, what can you do to top it?
Think actively about:
- Your décor – do you have a stylish, welcoming and professional design to your waiting space?
- Your extras – Do you have something even as simple as a water station and bowl of mints? Can you go above and beyond here?
- How is your furniture, lighting and ambiance?
- What about your branding? Are your brand colours on display in your space? Are you reinforcing your logo?
- Your punctuality – How long do you think you can let a client wait before negative sentiments build up?
At the end of the day, you should be harking back to the ‘serial position effect’ – delight your clients on the way in and delight them on the way out.
Make your front desk process silky
When it comes to the ‘workflow’ of welcoming and farewelling your new clients, focus on a silky smooth and uncluttered experience.
The best way to begin this is to think of yourself as a first-time client – or even walk one of your colleagues or friends through the process. What do they see and experience? What are the steps involved?
First – map your client process. Understanding what you need to give your client, what information they need to give you and in what order this takes place.
Have a think about ways you can make the experience quicker and smoother:
- If personal details are required, can you do this on the well-branded interface of an iPad instead of a paper form?
- Do your front desk staff have extensive knowledge of your business software to deal with queries quickly and accurately?
- Do you have multiple payment types setup and all necessary software integrations to link your payment/rebate systems?
- Is your booking software setup to easily rebook patients, send appointment reminders and record notes on their file?
By concentrating on creating a front desk process with the least pain and the most value possible, you’ll impart a positive experience which will pay dividends in repeat business, word-of-mouth marketing and excellent reviews.
You only get one shot at first and last impressions – make them count with a truly stand out front desk experience.