Let’s start with some assumptions about you.
If you’re reading this article, then I’m guessing you obviously have at least a passing interest in marketing your practice. And this means you’ve no doubt been badgered into submission—probably by articles just like this one—telling you just how important it is to have a top-notch website. A digital presence that matches the impression you want to make when someone clicks into your online existence.
If you’re reading this, I’m also guessing you probably hunkered down and paid good money to have a digital establishment built that your brick and mortar practice can be proud of. You own a website that includes the latest apps, gizmos and gadgets, even if you don’t know what most of them even do. End of the story, right? Not so fast. The question many of today’s Fortune 500 retail operators now face is do you have a brick and mortar presence that your website can be proud of?
As with so many of the trends that shape how we interact with our world, this one also has roots with the late Steve Jobs. After revolutionizing the way we interact with each other and with the digital world, he realized that the stores that carried his products weren’t just distribution points… they were an essential part of the product experience. They were (and are) a part of the brand.
Jobs wanted to create a space for interactions rather than transactions.
Armed with this realization, Jobs made sure the product —and the store carrying the product were as similar as you could get. Like his gadgets that changed the world, he stripped the Apple Store to its bare minimum, offering a unique minimalist take on the retail experience. The stores had none of the signage or esthetic noise that other establishments thought increased the buying urge. In fact, his logic went in the opposite direction. There were no price tags, discount flyers or customer testimonials. The logic being, when you found yourself in an Apple Store, it’s pretty certain that you were already sold. Jobs even saw to it that the locations of the stores were carefully chosen, making sure the product experience began the moment you looked up the address.
Which is all well and good, but what does Steve Jobs have to do with putting more patients in the chairs in your office? Glad you asked. Let’s assume you’ve got a top-notch website, with clean lines and simple navigation—and you better—then ask yourself how well does your physical location match the digital impression people are getting from your site?
Whoa Mad Man! Surely you’re nitpicking. People don’t care about waiting rooms, they just want great teeth at a fair price. Well if you think back to the branding ideas in the previous edition of Madison Avenue Mindset that you read—and you better have read it—you recall that you’re not just building a business, you’re building a brand. And that’s why all the pieces matter. If your website looks like it came from the set of the latest Star Trek movie, but your practice décor has a Country Club feel to it, people will notice and it will shape their impression of the overall experience.
Here’s a fun experiment. Next time you’ve got a few seconds to spare (I know the answer to that, but humor me here) walk out into the lobby of your practice when it’s full of people. Is it louder than you expected, or do people speak in hushed tones? Are they leafing through People Magazine, or tapping on their smartphone? Does it feel more like an Apple Store or an Applebee’s? There are no right or wrong answers here, so long as you’re cognizant of the idea that how you’ve organized, designed and decorated your space plays a direct role in shaping how your patients are experiencing the product that you sell.
Because we Madison Avenue types like to dream big, imagine this: A patient walks through the door of your practice and is greeted by an associate who isn’t stuck behind a desk, but right at the door with a smile. She carries an iPad with her. She scans the QR code on the appointment receipt your site generated specific to this patient. A split second later all of the patient’s medical, dental and insurance information is logged into the system, and they’re checked in to your patient management programs.
On the wall there are a number of interactive touchscreens, one of which takes a cue from the QR code your associate just scanned and presents a “Welcome David Smith, Touch Here to Begin” message. The patient is smiling now, because this is some cool stuff going on… and they are the central focus of it all.
Once the patient walks over and touches the screen, the panel displays a list of FAQs for people at that point in their treatment, a brief description of what you’re going to do at this appointment…and maybe just maybe, Angry Birds or an online version of People Magazine. They leaf through the presentation, getting answers to many of the questions you’ve answered a thousand times in the past. After 5 minutes, you’ve pre-answered their questions, and they’re prepared for what’s going to happen. They now walk back from the screen and settle in at one of your digital stations where they can log on to your free WiFi and plug in their smartphone for a quick charge. As they walk out after the appointment, you can be sure they’re going to tell everyone they run into that day how cool the experience was.
Sound farfetched? If you’ve been out to eat at one of the more forward thinking restaurants, you know that this technology is already several years old. The Apple-ization of the American commercial landscape is already well underway. The question is, do you want to be leading the charge, or pulling up the rear. Since you’re still reading, I’ll make one final assumption and guess that you’re going to be a part of the former.
This article published in 2013 OrthoWorld.