A classic characterization of going to a healthcare practice is sitting in a sterile, uncomfortable waiting room with nothing to do and trying not to look too long at the other people waiting also. Often you can hear the receptionist trying to be polite on the phone with someone who is giving her a hard time and you feel slightly guilty that you can overhear this conversation. The magazines are scarce, well-worn and you read them all the last time you were there. So you dig out your cell phone and re-read your emails or play a game.
How many of your friends, family, co-workers and neighbours does this scenario prompt you to refer to this practice?
There are many internal promotional actions you can do that will cause patient or client referrals. One of them is your reception and waiting area. When you first come into a practice, an impression is made. It could be amazement, or “this is nice”, or “ho hum,” or “yuck.”
Here are some of the ways you can humanize your practice that will surprise and please your patients (in no particular order):
- Great colour scheme, well-painted or current wallpaper. Make an impact – don’t be boring.
- Beautiful, unusual or thought provoking artworks or photos well framed on the walls.
- A huge fish tank (this is a major commitment because it has to be well cared for) – but people enjoy watching the fish moving around and kids love it.
- Lovely, comfortable chairs. Couches are cool too but must be kept clean and in good shape – preferably real leather. Ideally, your clientele are not supposed to be kept long in the “waiting” area but while they are there, impress them with comfort.
- Have a TV with simple, informative data running, but nothing highly technical or too gross. Trivia questions are always fun.
- Having pleasant music playing in the background can give the receptionist some privacy when talking to other people in person or on the phone. It also adds an aesthetic to the environment. No news stations please.
- Some practices have wifi and iPads fastened on a short pole beside each leather chair for patients to check their emails or play games on.
- Magazines should be abundant, clean and definitely current.
- Beautiful plants that are well maintained can give good breathable air and soften the environment. Big, well-created bouquets of cut flowers are lovely but you could have people who are allergic to cut flowers so this are probably not a good choice.
- Having a tea or coffee station and a water cooler is a thoughtful touch.
- A place to hang your coats on coat hangers (not hooks).
- A clean, stunning area rug in the waiting area that makes a colour impact and adds a comfort factor. (Keep it clean though.)
There are probably a couple of hundred other ideas but these are some basic ones you can start with.
Change it up
Most importantly, change it up frequently. Changing scenery keeps people noticing it and shows your thoughtfulness and interest in pleasing them.
Magazines should be high end, clean and extremely current. Some things like rugs, plants and artwork can be kept moving around or being changed. They are not necessarily that expensive (go to Ikea for instance) but can make visual changes to interest your clientele.
Be creative – get your staff’s input. Listen to feedback or comments by your clientele to see what impacts them and do more of it.
Impress your patients or clients and build your practice referrals from the inside out.