Just up the street, there’s a Chinese restaurant that greets customers as they’re arriving. Often a staff person will open the door, and, with a bright smile, offer a warm greeting of “Welcome Back!”
The thing is, EVERYONE gets the “welcome back” greeting, even first-time guests, and even if the greeter and guest have never met.
The marketing-smart dynamics at work in this four-second welcoming snapshot are significant, with some useful ideas that transfer nicely to healthcare providers and healthcare clinics.
The Patient Experience Lesson
If you take a moment to dissect the front door interaction at the restaurant, it illustrates good staff training.
Plus, what’s going on here is:
- This is a neighbourhood restaurant, so the odds are that a “welcome back” greeting is appropriate. (Maybe eight out of 10 times, it’s actually correct.)
- It’s a greeting that makes the returning guest sense that they are known or recognised, that their (continued) patronage is appreciated, and that they are part of the loyal “family” of guests.
- Although the greeting is not entirely accurate for first-time visitors, the warm sense of “belonging” transfers anyway. Plus, if the guest self-identifies as being new to the place, the greeter can provider addition “glad you’re here” and welcoming information.
So, one lesson for healthcare is that a sincere greeting at the door contributes to a positive patient experience. Patients have become empowered consumers who reasonably expect and appreciate an authentic (and perhaps personalised) greeting. (Contrast this with a closed glass window/barrier, and a sign pointing to the impersonal “sign-in-here” clipboard.)
The Internal Marketing Lesson
The more powerful, and long-term marketing lesson that carries over from retail to healthcare: Your internal audience is the best business prospect for additional products or services, as well as for testimonials, referrals and/or online reviews. Please note: current AHPRA restrictions of testimonials & online reviews.
In the restaurant business, a neighbourhood establishment, in particular, will quickly be out of business without regular and repeat patronage.
Practitioners’ offices have a different business model, but in every service business, the value of the current customer base is important to continued growth and new business opportunities. Healthcare marketing to patients who already know you is lower risk, and for practitioners, it “feels safe.” Often, the cost is low, and therefore the Return-on-Investment can be huge.