Don’t Post These Signs In Your Waiting Room, Ever!

There are many signs that can be purchased in office supply stores, novelty shops, and even stores like Target that you may think will spice up your waiting room and make your patients laugh or make your office more orderly. But this may not be the case. The following 5 signs are examples of what NOT to buy! Here’s why…

1. “If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you.”

Ha, ha, ha…. The 3 Stooges, Roseanne Bahr, George Carlin…humor is best left to the paid professional.  Your attempt at humor will never amuse everyone so why bother?

2. “Please be aware that this office is under 24-hour surveillance.” 

Why?  If I’m your patient, I believe I may be asking myself if I really want to return to an office that has a need for 24-hour surveillance. 

3. “A No-Show fee of $35 will be billed to you if you do not give at least 24-hour notice prior to cancellation of your appointment.”

What you’re telling me is that time is money.  If I’m kept waiting, can I expect a credit on my account?

4. “The nature of our practice is to give our patients the utmost in care and service.  Please excuse any delays.”

If you have taken the time to turn this into a sign, then I guess I can safely assume that I, as the patient, will be kept waiting…a lot.  And this would be because you haven’t figured out how to provide the utmost in care and service in a timely fashion.

5. “We welcome your comments about our office and or staff.”

Really?  Would you like me to blurt it out right now, right here, in the middle of the waiting room?  If you feel a need to ask for the comments and suggestions, give them options on how.  Give the patient a form to complete and return at their discretion.

And while we’re on the topic of signs in the waiting room, if you must have them, pay attention to how they look.  There is no place in your waiting room for signs that are torn, dirty or mismatched. Signs should not be held up with pushpins, thumbtacks and/or duct tape.  Signs should serve a purpose.

Walk out into your waiting room right now.  What do your signs say about you, your staff and your office?

10 Ways Your Waiting Room Can Improve Customer Service

Our industry is changing, patients have more choices than ever before. Competing with box stores and online companies on price is futile. Customer service is going to be a bigger factor than ever before. Let’s start with the minute your patient enters your office. What can you do to improve their experience?

1. Provide a basket of reading glasses: What’s worse than having reading material but not being able to read it? Or needing to fill out paperwork but accidentally leaving your reading glasses at home.

2. A place for wet umbrellas: You don’t want patients lugging wet umbrellas all over your office, and they don’t want to be carrying them either! This is a win-win for both of you.

3. A basket of dollar store umbrellas and rain hats for rainy/snowy days: This is a memorable customer service moment for patients. The skies open, they’re unprepared but voila you get to play the hero. Purchase ones from the dollar store (rain hats are a good buy too) that way if they’re never returned, you won’t care.

4. A Keurig with real cups: Being able to choose your type of drink (not everyone is a coffee drinker) and drinking from a “real” cup provides a measure of comfort while you’re waiting in a sometimes intimidating place.

5. TV: TV’s are pretty standard in waiting rooms these days. Make sure yours is tuned in to something your patients will actually enjoy watching.

6. Wi-Fi: You already have it in your office, why not make a guest log-in for your patients so they can get something done or play a game while they wait? You can hang a small sign near the reception desk with the log in and password for your patients’ convenience.

7. Good tissues: Sometimes a patient needs to blow their nose, colds, seasonal allergies and so on. Don’t supply patients with cheap, scratchy tissues.

8. Reading material that is meant to entertain not educate your patients: Yes, having reading material about hearing loss/hearing aids shows you’re in the loop, but when spending time in a waiting room, people want to be entertained.

9. Coat rack: Don’t make your patients carry around their heavy winter coats or wet rain jackets.

10. Comfortable temperature: It’s tempting to want to keep costs low, along with the temperate in the winter or to keep a warmer office in the summer months. Make sure your patients are comfortable remember they have options.

Lastly, check, double check… triple check the demeanor of your staff. Your waiting room could provide a phenomenal patient experience, but one rude/unfriendly staff member will ruin the entire experience for your patient.

The 5 Worst Signs to Post in Your Waiting Room

The following waiting room signs can currently be purchased through several office supply websites.  Don’t buy them.

“If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 charge for putting up with you.”

Ha, ha, ha…. The 3 Stooges, Roseanne Bahr, George Carlin…humor is best left to the paid professional.  Your attempt at humor will never amuse everyone so why bother?

“Please be aware that this office is under 24-hour surveillance.” 

Why?  If I’m your patient, I believe I may be asking myself if I really want to return to an office that has a need for 24-hour surveillance. 

“A No-Show fee of $35 will be billed to you if you do not give at least 24-hour notice prior to cancellation of your appointment.”

What you’re telling me is that time is money.  If I’m kept waiting, can I expect a credit on my account?

“The nature of our practice is to give our patients the utmost in care and service.  Please excuse any delays.”

If you have taken the time to turn this into a sign, then I guess I can safely assume that I, as the patient, will be kept waiting…a lot.  And this would be because you haven’t figured out how to provide the utmost in care and service in a timely fashion.

“We welcome your comments about our office and or staff.”

Really?  Would you like me to blurt it out right now, right here, in the middle of the waiting room?  If you feel a need to ask for the comments and suggestions, give them options on how.  Give the patient a form to complete and return at their discretion.

And while we’re on the topic of signs in the waiting room, if you must have them, pay attention to how they look.  There is no place in your waiting room for signs that are torn, dirty or mismatched. Signs should not be held up with pushpins, thumbtacks and/or duct tape.  Signs should serve a purpose.

Walk out into your waiting room right now.  What do your signs say about you, your staff and your office?

The Waiting Room, What Is Its’ Purpose?

The Waiting Room – What Is Its’ Purpose

Seems like a simple question with an equally simple answer.  If you think it’s only a place for patients to wait their turn until you call them into the back rooms, you’re only partially correct.  The waiting room should be the place where ONE, you continue to validate the patients decision to pick up the phone and call YOUR office and TWO continue the sale process.  Remember marketing your patient into your practice is part of the hearing aid sales process.  Calling your office is part of the sales process.  Checking in and sitting down to wait should also be part of the sales process.

We covered the look and the feel of everything up to your front door in “High End Customer Service, Why Bother?” In this article we’re exploring the next step in the process… the waiting room.  Your patient is at home getting ready to come to your office.  Their anxiety level is beginning to ratchet up slowly but surely.  They’re entering uncharted waters.  What’s in your waiting room will do one of two things, increase their anxiety level or ideally decrease their anxiety level.

Let’s start with the look and the feel.  We left off in the “High End Customer Service, Why Bother?” article with the importance of patients being able to see into the waiting room, before they enter the waiting room. The patient is opening your front door what will their experience be? It’s time to evaluate your waiting room.

The top ten things to evaluate in your waiting room.

  1. Replace worn or stained carpeting. If any part of your floor is tile, cover it with an area rug that does not move.
  2. Your waiting room chairs should be sturdy, coordinated and stain free. Make sure you have a sufficient number of waiting room chairs so that everyone has a seat.  Standing room only makes it appear that you are overbooked, not a good technique to ease the anxious patient.
  3. Reading material should be easily accessible and current.
  4. Provide an umbrella stand and a secure location for coats and jackets.
  5. Your “success stories” should be visible.
    1. Please remember not to violate HIPAA guidelines when displaying patient success stories.
    2. Do not date the stories.  A success from 2006, may only indicate to a current patient that it’s been an awfully long time since you had a happy patient.
  6. Display the gift basket you give for patient referrals prominently. Patients like to know that other patients refer their friends and family to you.
  7. TV/Video – It is enticing to want to bombard your patients with information. Remember your demographic. They are hearing impaired and often visually impaired.  Any information you provide via Video, should also be available in print format.  The video experience will not be the same for a healthy young adult without a hearing loss as it will be for your average patient.
  8. Beverage carts are all the rage.  They aren’t necessary.  A water cooler is a nice touch.  However, the average patient does not want to think they’ll be the waiting room long enough for a cup of coffee and possibly a small snack!
  9. Vendor posters.  Avoid displaying anything you don’t intend to sell to every patient.  Or at a minimum have one of every vendor you represent.  Prominently displaying Vendor A and selling the patient Vendor B will always cause a patient to question why?  They may not express it, it may even register subconsciously, but what it says it that you think enough of Vendor A to sacrifice valuable wall space to display their products, but you don’t think enough of me, the patient, to sell me that product.
  10. And finally, your staff, they are an integral part of the “waiting room”.  Make sure they immediately make eye contact with and greet whoever enters that room.

A pleasant waiting room experience is a crucial step in the entire process.  Selling hearing aids is already a difficult process.  There’s no need to add to the challenges you’ll face by starting off on the wrong foot with the patient before you’ve had a chance to say hello.