I guess this old saying might sound a bit corny in 2016, but it’s one of the most compelling lessons in business I have learned: the first 30 seconds can shape an entire lifetime relationship or prevent it even starting.
Turning up five minutes late for a meeting or in dirty shoes or the wrong jacket are sort of obvious in terms of detracting from a good first impression. It’s a bit more challenging when you consider the task of creating a consistent good first impression for a new dental or facial aesthetics patient who is considering ditching their dentist for you.
From the new patient’s very first encounter with your practice, which typically starts with a Google search or perhaps a Facebook advertisement which is then directed to the website, followed by the telephone enquiry to the practice, to finally showing up for the appointment, there are about seven pressure points to pass through before they have even met you.
However gifted and gentle you are as a dentist at this point the new patient has already formed an opinion of you ranging from bad to brilliant, which will inevitably shape your future relationship with them.
I use the phrase “pressure point” but maybe “impression point” would be better, because each element of the patient experience shapes their view of the practice.
These seven impression points can be really quite complex to align and some are uncontrollable. Some are constrained by variable resource and some because of the entrenched behaviours of your hard working team.
By mapping out the steps and understanding your brand and price position it is fairly straightforward to fix everything up until the new patient contacts the practice via email or telephone for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong, creating the right branding and a high performance website is not cakewalk but it is straightforward and will provide you with a robust return on investment. To be honest the most challenging thing to adjust is the behaviour of your team, which typically has evolved over time often with bad as well as good habits becoming firmly entrenched.
If you want to guarantee a good first impression for your new patients every time I suggest you work with all your team simultaneously to achieve it — don’t do it in isolation — and I suggest you run the following workshop:
Building better first impressions workshop
- Book a six-hour session in your practice diary and ensure EVERYBODY connected to your practice is present.
- Start the session by asking them to score from a new patient’s perspective the current experience at the practice (they nearly always say eight out of 10).
- Now ask them to illustrate a personal experience they have had of poor customer service. Help them by giving an example of a buying experience where you felt let down.
- Using large Post-It notes ask the team to list weakness in your current new patient journey. Be prepared with some examples of things you feel are under par.
- Now ask them to build a new patient journey that the practice can deliver consistently which works in practical way around the constraints of the practice — but delivers improvement.
- Review in three months. Run the same workshop with the same people — you will be amazed at the attitude change.
As always, let me know if I can help.