Cultivating a Culture of Hospitality in Today’s Business Model
What can medical practices learn from the best hotels, spas and restaurants? A lot!
Doctors have many years of training and often decades of experience in their chosen specialty. They treat diseases, restore health and most importantly save lives. It is noble and challenging work.
While the healthcare industry can seem a little mismatched when paired with the hospitality industry, in today’s competitive climate, the two really need to become quite familiar with each other, friendships need to develop.
Because your competition is fierce, coming at you like a raging lion. Plus, it certainly is not getting easier to acquire patients and customers, especially in the area of elective medical procedures. People have choices. People want and expect a high level of service from a provider – whether that provider is mowing their lawn, hosting their conference, correcting their vision or treating their health condition.
Healthcare—like hospitality—must pay close attention to the wants, needs and comfort level of their patients (customers). Patient-facing staff should have the polished skills and support to interact with patients and with each other in a way that creates a culture of comfort and warmth.
“It starts with the people who answer the phones but it must filter through every single aspect of your practice,” said Cyndi Miller, founder and CEO of Miller Public Relations. “Here in Texas, we call it Southern hospitality but it is really a mindset of manners, hospitality and excellence. Getting your team to buy into this mindset is critical to your success but once established, it needs to be infused often to keep the momentum going.”
Here at Miller Public Relations, we teach three key business practices that can easily work in any medical practice seeking to create generational patients who will come back over and over as well as tell about their positive experience friends and family.
- Provide the Warmest of Welcomes. This cannot be overstated. Especially as it relates to medical practices. Many people report feeling anxious when walking into a new medical practice. Fear of diagnosis. Fear of treatment. Fear of costs associated. Fear of germs! But what if they felt instantly at ease? That’s the goal. Create an environment that is warm, inviting, clean, calming and highly responsive. Deliver first-class care. And then watch your patients line up to give you great reviews.
- Meet Expressed and Unexpressed Needs. This requires thoughtful engagement between your team members and your patients. Train your team to remember names, acknowledge birthdays – yes. These go without saying. But also train them to look for verbal and nonverbal cues in order to better serve every patient, every time. Keep cold water bottles on hand. Smile. Television monitors should be set to something like HGVT and at a modest volume (definitely not today’s news!). The goal is to help patients feel relaxed and genuinely cared for by anticipating their needs before they even realize them. Stay in the present, stay aware and maintain the highest level of responsiveness.
- Cultivate Culture. “This is my favorite!” said Cyndi. “Culture change is so important and to do it right, it takes commitment, time and consistency.” It is important to never lose sight of the big picture of what you want to accomplish in your patient care and service. Then look downward to the details needed to make it happen. “So many patients report interactions that are robotic, dispassionate, lackluster. Look at the people on your team. Look at yourself! Cultivate a culture that speaks ‘Yes, we can. Right now!’”
Implement these three simple ideas into your practice today. Studies show there is no better way to earn a referral than rolling out the red carpet and creating a culture of hospitality. “When these simple steps resonate among the leaders and individual team members, extending the best in customer service to every patient, it absolutely affects the bottom line of a company – their legacy and future growth are both certain.” Says Cyndi.
Questions about how to roll out the red carpet in your office?