First impressions count…a lot!
You might have the most wonderful, talented, friendly, patient-focused practice that any prospective patient could ever wish for, but if you’re not communicating those things within the first three seconds of someone landing on your website or having their call to the practice answered, then you’re probably losing business.
Why is that?
Because, in today’s message-rich, multi-media consumer society, we don’t have the time to sit and analyse all the communications that are coming at us from every direction – so, more and more, we rely on ‘gut feeling’ – does the restaurant I’m looking at or the website I’ve landed on ‘feel right’, if the answer to that question is no, then I’ll move on, pretty quickly.
“For most potential patients looking for a new practice or a specific treatment, their decision-making criteria will be based not on ‘what’ you do… but on ‘how’ you do it…”
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, ‘Blink’ refers to this as ‘thin slicing’ – decisions being made on thinner and thinner slices of information. You’ll recognise this yourself – how many times in the last month have you thrown a letter away without opening it? Thin slicing.
For most potential patients looking for a new practice or a specific treatment, their decision-making criteria will be based not on ‘what’ you do (that’s almost a given), but on ‘how’ you do it, which shifts the emphasis away from facts to feelings. We can’t possibly get all the facts we need in the first three seconds of a relationship, but we can establish strong feelings as to whether we’re in the right place or not.
So, the big question for your practice is…
Are all of your ‘points of first contact’ perfectly aligned with the brand of your practice and are they creating the impression you want to put across? If the answer is no, then you have a disconnect between perception and reality.
A great way to start answering that big question is to define just exactly how you want people to feel when they first make contact with the practice. What three things would you hope people would ‘feel’ from that first interaction. Do you want to come across as…
- Friendly, caring and professional?
- Fun, vibrant and different?
- Warm, welcoming and interested?
Whatever words you come up with – your challenge is to bring them to life in everything you do – the way you answer the phone, how you greet people at reception, how you design your website landing page. It’s all about cause and effect. As students of Neuro Linguistic Programming will tell you – the meaning of your communications is the response that you get.
The key to all this is consistency. And consistency is driven by culture. You can’t act out your brand – it has to be real – something that everyone in your team believes in and buys into. Otherwise, you run the risk of falsely creating the right impression at the front end and then not delivering on your promise.
“The key to all this is consistency. And consistency is driven by culture. You can’t act out your brand – it has to be real – something that everyone in your team believes in and buys into.”
So, take some time to really think about your practice brand – how you want to be seen by your existing and potential patients and how you want them to react. Discuss it amongst your team and think about how you can bring it to life on a daily basis and then ensure that the key principles that drive your brand are to the fore at every first point of contact – phone, website, or practice visit.
The one thing customers have in abundance these days is ‘choice’. You only have three seconds to grab their attention, create the right impression and ensure that the choice they make is for your practice and not your competitor’s.