Friday, May 6, 2011

How Do Patients Experience Your Practice?

You're ready to promote, you have your practice up and running, staff in place and a website ready to direct patients to make an appointment...but do you really know what potential patients experience when they call in or visit your practice?

If even one patient has an unpleasant experience, they are probably telling others. Before promoting, there's one way to find out if your "prospective patient experience" is up to par: blind shop your own practice!

Doing this will give you tons of insight on how patients perceive your practice, how your employees perform and will determine where your staff needs to improve.

How do you blind shop? It's really simple...appoint a "mystery patient" to schedule an appointment and don't tell your staff. This individual will go through the usual process your patients go through when visiting your practice.

Here are a few key points to make your blind shopping a success!

1. Importance of a Good Receptionist

Your front desk staff acts as a first impression for your practice — but so many dentists overlook this! When your "mystery patient" calls in, have them write down: how many rings did it take for a person to answer? Did he or she have an upbeat, friendly tone? Was he or she helpful in providing the info needed? Did he or she ask how they heard about your practice? Did they ask for my contact info?

On the other side, do you send your prospects to voicemail? How does it make you feel when you call a business for the first time and can't speak to a person? It's usually frustrating. This is your chance to convince potential patients to continue with their interest in your practice — and a recorded message won't help you here.

2. Is your website helping your practice or harming ?

When someone comes to your website, what is the first thing they see? Is it professional? Are you proud of it? What is your goal for your site visitors? To give more information? To call and set an appointment? Is it clear what your practice specializes in or at least how to obtain more info about it?

It's important you tell visitors where to go. For example, have a button that says, "Schedule An Appointment!" where the prospective patient can give you their contact info in a fill-in form and ask any questions too — it's easy and allows you to provide and capture detailed information.

Other points to consider...
Are your website colors appealing?
Is the page easy to read or cluttered?
Do the images complement your message or detract from it?

Ensure that your blind shopper "finds you" the way real patients find you. Make sure they critique every step.

3. Do You Have a Follow Up Plan?

What if your mystery patient doesn't come in for treatment for 2 weeks? Do you have a fail-safe system in place to stay in front of those you already reached once but didn't schedule? It's an important part of the process and could make or break your client base. An easy and affordable way to stay in touch is through email marketing or by sending a weekly or monthly newsletter. Constant communication develops a trusted relationship and reminds patients you're still here and ready to help them with all their dental needs.

Once your mystery patient tallies the results (the ratings and comments of each part of the process), analyze and apply the necessary changes. Remember, the first step to dominating your competition is to find out if what you're currently doing is optimum!

Ideally, you would hire this blind shopper to do the same with your competition so that you are completely in the know.

We use what we call our "Competition Checklist" to investigate what our competition is doing and determine how we can improve based on the results.

Wondering how to check out your competition? Download our FREE "Competition Checklist" as a guide! We have a sample "Competition Checklist" at our website. Check below for the link. Go to the Newsletter archive and Search "competition checklist" - it is #2 (competition checklist.pdf).

About the Author:
Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998; by 2005 the company did over $12 million in sales, employed over 100 people and made Inc. Magazine's prestigious Inc 500 List as the one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the nation. Dentistry is one of the top three industries they create marketing campaigns for. For a free dental industry report visit www.PostcardMania.com/DentalPostcards No. of Times this article has been viewed : 279
Date Published : Feb 12 2011

View the original article here

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