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Customer Service is Marketing

I’m asked frequently by clients, how they can do a better job of marketing their practice. Word of mouth, whether its spread traditionally or digitally generates business.
Your patients are customers.  Hearing aids are expensive.
Your customers experience should be more like Nordstrom’s and a lot less like Target.  I shop at both, I like Target for the selection.  I like Nordstrom’s for the customer service.  You don’t have selection on your side.  (Providing a patient with a choice between Vendor A, B or C’s hearing aids isn’t really much of a selection.)  So that leaves you with customer service.
I know I harp on this a lot.  I talk to people in your offices, a lot and it isn’t always a wonderful experience.  There is always room for improvement.  And I use the word customer interchangeably with patient for a reason.  If we thought of our clientele more as a customer and less as a patient I think that service would improve.
The entire industry of healthcare has neglected customer service.  We have “waiting rooms.”  What other business admits up front that it won’t serve you in a timely manner?  I suppose we could call airports “delay zones,” but I doubt the airline industry would accept that like we have in healthcare.  People are there for good healthcare advice, right?  No, they are there to be cared for, and a huge part of that care is determined by how they are treated in the office.
Nordstrom’s focus is on the customer experience.  They want people to have a different experience when they come to their store.  The staff is helpful and courteous; they make their store to meet the needs of their customers, not expecting their customers to adapt to their store.  When people leave Nordstrom’s, they feel good about their experience.  They feel like they were the center of attention and got their needs met and in return they are extremely loyal customers.
You want patients to brag about your office and how well they’re treated.  A walk-in time for repairs, repair pick-ups and minor adjustments is a great way to practice good customer service. Not only does it meet patients’ needs, but patients love this. They don’t have to call to make an appointment; they just show up.
It isn’t just about the needs of the patient.  Typically repair times are scheduled for 15-minute appointments. Walk in times are 30 – 60 minute time periods.  You can easily see twice as many patients during the walk-in time as you can during a scheduled appointment.  This frees up valuable time, which can be used to generate revenue.
Patients are more apt to believe that you care about them when you run your business in a way that sends that message.  Statistics don’t lie.

A dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it. And approximately 13% of your dissatisfied customers will tell more than 20 people about their problem.
Source: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC.

Happy customers who have their problems resolved will tell 4-6 people about their positive experience.
Source: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC.

A strong focus on quality customer service should eliminate the need to undo the damage of 9 -15 unhappy people and exploit the potential of 4-6 happy people. And that’s one way you can do a better job of marketing your practice.