OP/ED: How to Create Loyal, Lifetime Concierge Patients

By Nancy Latady, MBA | Guest Contributing Writer, Concierge Medicine Today | Owner/Principal, Latady Physician Strategies

nancy latadyJUNE 26, 2013 – Grocery shopping is not something I usually look forward to. Battling shopping carts, harsh lighting, freezer-like temperatures and indifferent staff add up to an unpleasant experience. I’ll put up with this for buying the basics only because the budget-minded side of me appreciates the lower prices.

Every so often, though, I’ll pop into my local Whole Foods. Ahhh…that feels so much better.

It always surprises me how much I enjoy these visits – beautifully displayed fruit, the aroma of clam chowder drawing me to the source, and best of all, a friendly and knowledgeable staff you know you can count on. As soon as I step inside, time slows down and I feel a strange mixture of calmness and excitement.

What does this have to do with attracting patients to your concierge practice–and turning them into loyal, lifetime, referral-generating customers?

Whole Foods establishes an emotional connection with customers by setting the mood, creating an appealing atmosphere, and capturing interest. The company takes a holistic view to understand what motivates customers. Instead of wanting to get in and get out, I tend to linger and browse and leave with items I hadn’t planned on purchasing. And while I believe I am buying superior food quality (and health benefits) I also recognize I am willing to pay more for the added experience.

As a concierge doctor, it’s the experience you provide your patients that keeps them coming back and spreading the word to their friends and family. As a happy, satisfied patient I’m going to tell others.

So…how might I experience your practice?

How would I be greeted when I first call or walk in your office door?

Hopefully with friendliness and caring, and a willingness to take time to respond to my questions and concerns. A warm greeting, eye contact, and a genuine smile takes just a few seconds yet would transform my experience and impression of your practice.

What story would your reception area tell me?

I can’t very well determine your medical competency but I’d certainly make assumptions, taking cues from what I would see around me. Does the look and feel of your office reflect the brand you have purposely created for your practice? Color, lighting, artwork, rugs, furniture style and placement (no dying plants of course!) all combine to set the stage, so to speak, for what I might expect for my care. My son’s orthodontist gets this – his simple and beautiful reception area even has a laptop-homework station for siblings (directly across from the hot chocolate server).

Are you taking your cue from the best retailers?

There’s a good reason Whole Foods positions vibrant flowers and colorful fruit arrangements at the entry to the store. When offering patients cash-based care, elective services, and products too, what you display and how – even literature and important notices, would set the tone and expectations for me and influence my behavior. As your captive audience, you’d have a great opportunity to let me know all the ways your practice could meet my needs.

How happy and personable is your staff?

What most keeps me coming back to Whole Foods is the people who work for them. They genuinely enjoy being there, and it shows. I’d want and expect the same experience if I were to come to your practice, and this is one important concierge service promise. Supporting and appreciating your staff, and holding (and training) them to high service standards will make everyone’s experience more enjoyable–and help justify the recurring membership fee. It is critical for your practice success.

You too can create a positive emotional connection with your patients by applying a deeper insight into what motivates them. Like Whole Foods, aligning your customer service strategies to shape the patient experience is one of the secrets to a successful, thriving practice.

© 2013 Latady Physician Strategies. All rights reserved.

About Nancy Latady, MBA – Founder & Principal

nancy latadyNancy Latady has over 30 years of marketing, management, and business development experience in the healthcare industry. With early career roles as a provider, manager, physician recruiter, physician liaison, and hospital marketer/planner, Nancy brings a unique perspective to her physician clients. This, combined with her extensive healthcare industry and business knowledge, has enabled her to serve clients for more than twenty years as a strategy and marketing consultant to a wide variety of medical practices, start-ups and health care businesses.

Nancy received her BS degree from the University of New Hampshire and MBA degree from Boston University.

In her community, Nancy is the founder of Bedford Womenade, a non-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to families in medical and economic crisis. She lives in Bedford, MA with her husband and three teenage children. She especially enjoys traveling with her family, as well as reading, gardening, biking and skiing.

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