Les Jones, Creative Director at Practice Plan, looks at how creating a memorable experience can transform patients into advocates for your brand and your practice…
When I’m out cycling at the weekend with my mates, we often stop at a small cafe in a local village for a rest and a refuel (coffee and bacon sandwiches usually). It’s pleasant enough and it always does the job – but I’ve never felt compelled to tell anyone else about it.
“It’s pleasant enough and it always does the job – but I’ve never felt compelled to tell anyone else about it.”
Last weekend, we made our usual stop at the café (our first visit in a few weeks), but this time something was different – the café had changed ownership and was now being run by a young woman who had recently bought it.
You wouldn’t think that the serving of coffee and bacon sandwiches would be that much different – but it was, on many levels.
Firstly, our waitress was noticeably happier and more attentive than her predecessors. What’s more, she took an interest in us as cyclists as opposed to visitors to the café – asking how far we’d ridden, where we were off to next, etc.
Secondly, she listened.
Such an easy thing to do, but so often a skill that’s not employed by people in the service sector. My friend wanted his bacon particularly well done, I wanted my latte to arrive with my bacon sandwich, not ten minutes before – you’d be surprised how many café staff nod to this request and then completely ignore it.
Lastly, as we were tucking into our Sunday morning brunch, the new owner, came over, introduced herself and checked that all our requests had been met – they had. She was friendly, outgoing and charming. At the end of our short conversation, she gave us all a card and said if we ever wanted to phone ahead, she could get our orders ready for when we arrived, because she knew how, as cyclists, we didn’t like to wait around too long, or stiffen up.
So, nothing amazingly different, you might say. But after that experience something very important and interesting happened – I changed from a customer of the café to an advocate for the café.
In the four days since our ride, I’ve told the rest of my cycling group about our experience. I told my wife and two daughters and I also told my neighbour (another cyclist) as we chatted over the fence on that Sunday afternoon.
“If you want people to talk about your practice, you have to give them something to talk about.”
Hopefully, the parallels between my café experience and your dental practice are obvious. Every dental practice knows the value of referrals, but too many think that they just happen by magic…they don’t.
If you want people to talk about your practice, you have to give them something to talk about. That means every member of your team knowing what you stand for as a practice and how they can bring it to life and enhance the patient experience so that it becomes memorable and worthy of passing on.
In such a simple transaction as buying a coffee and a bacon sandwich, just look at what happened:
- We were welcomed with a smile and the sense that we were valued as customers
- Our needs were listened to and acted upon
- Staff took the time to get to know us a little
- The owner (principal) took the time to introduce herself and build rapport
- We were handed (referral) cards
- We were offered an additional, added value service (the phone ahead).
So why am I not an advocate of every café I visit!
Food for thought?