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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.