Recently a very famous chef said, “A truly great restaurant is a balance of great food, great service and great atmosphere.” Finding the comment quite thought-provoking, I was driving by a local restaurant when my friend pointed out, “That’s a great restaurant.” I had previously eaten at the restaurant and did not have a great dining experience at all. In fact, it was so uncomfortable that I didn’t even remember if the food was good, but I knew I would not return. There are plenty of other restaurants to try.
The same is true of the chiropractic office. A great chiropractic office is a balance of great chiropractic, great atmosphere and great service. The result is a great patient experience.
First, the chiropractor must be good at getting results. If the patient doesn’t get results, he will not continue with care for very long no matter how wonderful the service or atmosphere. Second, the office’s atmosphere must elicit a good feeling. A dark, dingy, unprofessional office will not generate a good patient experience, nor will the patients be enthusiastic about referring their friends and family. Third, the staff must be friendly and extremely service-oriented.
I believe the chiropractic office should offer a relaxing ambiance where a patient can get away from the hysteria of daily living and be treated in an atmosphere of relaxation and genuine care.
My experience as manager of a chiropractic office has proven that the beginning of a great experience is when a patient opens the office door and is treated to warmth. These days, there are as many choices of chiropractors as there are restaurants, and your patients want to go to the one that makes them feel well cared for and good.
When your patients enter your office, they immediately make a judgment regarding the atmosphere. Remember, generating warmth is just as important with existing patients as it is with new patients.
To achieve a successful practice, offer positive, enthusiastic, caring service to patients. Make your patients feel special. Talk about healthy lifestyles with them. Educate patients about diet, nutrition, exercise and the benefits of chiropractic manipulation. When your patients feel better and feel special, they will tell their family and friends.
The following ideas are all used in my office to achieve great atmosphere and service. With good planning, you can implement each one for a cost of next-to-nothing up to about $75. The rewards are immeasurable in terms of your return on investment.
- Always acknowledge each patient upon arrival, no matter how busy you are.
- Greetings from the staff should be warm and friendly, yet professional.
- Call each patient by name and be generally happy to see them. The sweetest sound anyone can hear is the sound of his or her own name.
- Your office’s lighting should be bright, yet warm. Add a lamp or some well-placed wall sconces to brighten the lighting.
- Play music that is extremely relaxing, such as classical or instrumental. The music should be chosen with great care. Try to put a speaker in every room.
- Display a good selection of reading material consisting of up-to-date magazines, beautiful picture books and a selection of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books. Our patients absolutely love the “Chicken Soup” books and it is the beginning of the “warm feeling.”
- Provide a pot of hot water and offer herbal tea or a special recipe. We offer our own blend of “Russian tea.”
- At times, offer cookies, vegetables and dip or other refreshments.
- During holiday weeks, have hot cider, cookies and light snacks available. In our office, the aroma of the cider permeates the hallway even before the patient enters. The warm cider aroma even elicits visits from other tenants in our building. We are happy to share because the more people who know about us, the better.
- Place a telephone in your reception room for patients to use while they are waiting. It is an inexpensive amenity that is greatly appreciated.
- Put a spare desk in your reception room for patients to complete your paperwork or work on their own.
- Contact a local florist who will bring in an arrangement every week at no charge. Flowers add beauty to the office and in return are a great way to market the florist’s business.
- Neatly arrange your office’s business cards and promotional pamphlets in a rack where patients can easily see them.
- Place a photo album of your staff and their families in your reception area. Include a short autobiography so patients can get to know everyone. It is a wonderful way to establish a connection.
- The staff’s image should be taken very seriously and each member should be neatly groomed.
- Uniforms should be worn by the therapy chiropractic assistant (CA) and front desk CAor the entire staff.
- Name tags should be worn so patients can call staff members by name.
- Never allow staff members to eat lunch at the front desk so it does not detract from your office’s image.
- Clean your treatment rooms on a daily basis. The tables are especially important to keep clean, with extra special attention to debris lodged in the cracks and crevices.
- Straighten up the treatment rooms after each patient. Put everything back in it’s place.
- Change the head rest paper before a patient enters the room.
- If you offer therapy in your office, cover the patient with a blanket during therapy. It has a profound effect and is very nurturing.
- If the light can be turned off in the treatment room, offer to turn it off. This is particularly effective if the patient has a headache.
- Check on the patient during therapy.
- If a patient has to wait for the doctor in a treatment room, offer a magazine or book.
- Keep puzzles in each adjustment room (they can be purchased from a game catalog or a local department store). Patients love them and have fun while waiting for the doctor.
- Offer to help your patient with an insurance problem, even if it’s not your problem.
- Ask permission to write a care and prognosis letter to a patient’s primary care physician. This is also helpful in generating referrals from physicians.
- Send each patient a birthday card personally signed by every member of the staff, including the doctor. It may be the only card the patient receives and it is amazing how many times a day you will be thanked.
- Send notes of congratulations for new babies, new jobs, weddings and so forth. Send concern notes and sympathy cards as well.
- Send copies of newspaper clippings to patients when you see them in the news
- Dedicate a wall to patients in the news. Our patients bring their own articles in, just so they can be on the wall. We include famous and not-so-famous patients they all get the same billing.
- Send fruit baskets to patients who refer a lot of people. Deliver the gift to their place of work, which is great for marketing.
- Send a fruit basket to a doctor and staff who referred a patient to you. The staff will think of you again when someone needs a chiropractor.
- Offer your older magazines to patients. Have them put their name on it and give it to them when the new issue comes in.
- Make it a goal for every staff member to compliment and thank ten people every day. Soon, it will be a wonderful habit that produces great results.
- Love your patients and they will love you back by referring everyone they know.
The office’s atmosphere is the first thing patients notice upon their arrival and it is imperative that you offer an atmosphere of warmth and caring, as well as confidence and belief. These come from the surroundings, as well as the staff. It is very important for your patients to connect, feel comfortable and confident. By making it a point to be a service-oriented office, you will reap far more rewards than you can possibly imagine through the process of making others feel good.