Developing the Patient Stakeholder Relationship
In the previous newsletter, I referred to the word stakeholders’ as individuals or groups who can affect or are affected by a corporation´s activities. In our field of chiropractic this means the staff, community, patients, attorneys, insurance industry, Chamber of Commerce, other local charitable clubs and any other organizations pertinent to your business. The following will briefly address the patient relationship.
In the not too distant past a good product for the lowest price was the economic demand of the public. Now-a-days consumers want quality time, quality service and a quality product. The price is less important to them if the other values are there. (Doctors, read that last sentence one more time.)
What added value do you give to your patients? Do you open your doors earlier and close them later than your competitor to make it more convenient for your patients to come to your office or are you only accommodating yourself? Do you offer an array of nutritional products and counseling? Do you offer therapy, rehabilitation and updated diagnostic services so they do not have to travel to other places? Do your patients feel that they are receiving the attention they deserve as a consumer? Are you an excellent daily educator of health care for your patients´ benefit and do you offer them a bi-weekly health care class? These are just a few of the added values that you can incorporate into your practice to develop those important relationships with your stakeholder patients. You should be able to think of many more. If you cannot make a long list of other things to add value to your services then you should sit with your staff and brain storm with them. They will come up with a whole list of things! They are on the ground floor with the patients just as salespersons are in their companies. It is the constant patient/consumer contact that helps to understand what the patients need and want.
Big businesses know the importance of keeping their customers for life and developing long term relationships with them. They know it will cost them five times more to find a new customer than to retain their present one. Doctor, how much does it cost you to market, advertise, spend time in the community shaking hands, do health care classes, send out direct mail, and do spinal screenings to obtain one patient? Can you see the importance of focusing on the gold you already have in those files and to not lose your patients. You can market all you want on the outside of your office, but if you have a hole in the bucket practice’, where your patients are leaving as fast as they are coming in, then you will never grow your business.
If you are unsure of what your patients demand of you just ask them. Mrs. Jones, how am I doing? Is there anything you wish of me that I am not doing for you? Is there anything my staff can do to make your visit more pleasant?’ You put together the questions. This is exactly what big businesses are learning. They know that the big survey once a year through the mail or by the telephone is just not cutting it. They realize that the direct communication approach is much more satisfying.
Consumers today are also interested in using companies that are environmentally safe’. By this I mean that they are aware of those companies that do things to be socially responsible and to help good causes. They despise the sweat shop factories used by major companies that take advantage of young children and are willing to pay a higher price for products manufactured by more ethical companies. What about you? What is your cause? Do you go in the community and give back? Do your patients know your cause is to get sick people healthy in the most natural form possible? Do they know you have a policy that everyone can afford you? Do they see you opening your doors on patient appreciation day, or doctors with a heart day? Find your cause and let them know.
Developing the stakeholder patient relationship is not that difficult. You just have to think like your patients. You have to walk in their shoes, see what they see when they come to your office, hear what they hear when they are spoken to by you and your staff and feel how they feel when they are treated. Do that and you are on your way to developing this relationship and retaining them as patients for life.