I selected a new dentist. When making my first appointment, I requested a Saturday time slot. The woman who answered the phone asked why. I explained that, though their office was near my home, I worked quite a distance away and could not easily make it during the work week.
She immediately informed me that I would become one of the doctor's Saturday patients and always get my appointment on that day. I've never had to make this request again. No matter who is at the front desk to set my next appointment, they always offer a Saturday.
The power of personalization
By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, according to global research and consulting company Frost & Sullivan. Interacting with your patient/customer in a personalized, authentic way is essential to ensuring a positive experience.
We've all experienced personalization on the internet. Companies use artificial intelligence—machine learning—to analyze our browsing patterns and previous purchases and then personalize online marketing efforts according to their perception of our interests. The internet is one channel where data-driven personalization thrives.
But what about personalization in truly personal channels—areas where direct interaction occurs between your staff and your patients? Are you gathering data and making it easily available so your staff can provide an enhanced experience?
Deliver an enhanced, authentic experience
In the example of my dentist, the staff most likely placed a “Saturday only” note in their practice management system. This note appears in their workflow when I make an appointment. Using customized notes in the workflow is a great way to personalize the patient experience.
Don’t stop at accommodating preferences. Just one negative interaction can have dire consequences on the patient's overall view of your practice and can be difficult to overcome. Consistency in your culture and strategy are key to ensuring every interaction produces a positive result.
Here are three strategies to keep in mind to maintain effective, personalized relationships:
- Encourage your staff to engage in personal conversations with patients. Take note of significant events in the patient's life and follow up in future encounters. Did their child have a sporting event? Do they have plans to travel? This level of personalization will allow you to deliver a unique experience and form enduring relationships that foster trust and confidence.
- Retain quality, long-term employees to the extent possible. The bond which forms over time between your team and each patient can help overcome an occasional less-than-perfect encounter.
- Help each team member understand their part in providing a unique and positive experience to the patient. Reinforce this message through mentoring and by example. Ultimately the customer experience is about the feelings and emotions invoked at every touchpoint.
How do you create a unique, positive, and personal customer experience? I would enjoy hearing your stories