How to Keep a Customer

Familiar makes for happy customersBefore the end of the year, I wrote about three ways in which Adobe lost me as a future customer.   I want to start the New Year off with a post on how to keep a customer.  In the broadest sense, both tips have been said before in many places, but they are worth repeating.

First, exceed expectations.   Don’t think that this means you have to consider everything in the world a patient could possibly want and then give more.  That’s just not possible.  Be respectful.  Show you actually care.   Cascade Windows did this with a phone call that took the person coming to our house about 1 minute and cost him whatever 1 minute of cell phone usage costs.  They had made an appointment to be there at 10.  He was stuck in traffic and called to let me know he’d probably be 20 to 30 minutes late.  Most service people don’t do that so it was so unexpected, I’ve remembered it and told everyone.

If you have a receptionist in your office, if you’re running behind, it might be nice to call the later patients and let them know you’re running 15 to 20 minutes behind and don’t expect to be caught up by their appointment time.  Let them plan their time around your current schedule.  If they like texting, you could even have a sign up sheet to let them know.  Make sure you know how far in advance a patient would need to know so they can plan accordingly.

Calling may not work for everyone.  What else can you do?  Think about those companies that make you feel  like they went the extra mile.  Think about how that can apply to your practice.  Many of those little things are actually easy to do and take very little time.

Second, be familiar.  There’s a reason there are so many conglomerate stores that all look the same from city to city across the nation. People are comfortable with the familiar although they may fight against it.  You don’t have to look like every other office in the area, but try not to be too different.  Offer familiar touch stones in your office.  If you have a primarily Asian themed office and your patients are not familiar with the culture, make sure the magazines there are of general interest.   Have a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff prominently displayed in the treatment room.   You don’t have to use it, but patients should see it.

It’s good to be different and set yourself apart, but it’s also important to create bridges into the world of acupuncture.  It’s helpful to have a clear sense of who your patients are so you can do that.  If you focus on athletes, for instance, you’ll want magazines that they would be interested in.  Likewise, if you treat mostly elderly people for their ailments, find magazines that make them comfortable.  Find chairs that are easy to get in and out of.  They should be comfortable but you don’t want them to sink too far in!  Consider what your patients need in your office.  Consider what is familiar to them and offer touch stones so they feel they belong in your office.

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