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Thursday
Feb102011

Understand Your Patient's Home Run In The Consultation Room

Before you leave the consultation room ask your patient this question: What's a 'home run' for you?

Consultations are where the money gets made in a medical spa but understanding and managing expectations with your cosmetic patients will keep you out of trouble, and your patients coming back. One of the very best ways to understand where your patient's head and expectations are is to ask, 'What's going to be a home run for you?'.

You're probably already trying to set expectations and get to know what your patient's after - you're in a consultation room after all - but I'm talking about some thing other than asking about 'What are you looking for?' or 'What are you trying to change?' which are the most common types of questions.

There's a lot you can do to increase your revenue in the consultation room. Don't miss the opportunity to set up your patient for the big win.

When you ask, 'What would knock the ball out of the park for you?', you're tapping in to some triggers that give you a much better feel for where the patient is, and creates a complete buy-in if you're able to align those 'big win' thoughts with manageable expectations. This is a part of the consultation that a lot of physicians miss by just asking general expectation questions like 'What are we trying to accomplish?' or 'What are you looking for?'. These kinds of milquetoast questions don't have any teeth.

The worst kind of ham-fisted consultation - and I've seen this - is just to hand a mirror to a patient and tell them to tell you what they don't like about their face. (A perfect example of a doc that never understood the psychology of buying and though of himself as a mechanic. Lame.)

Look, no one is coming in to your clinic with 'age management' as their goal. That's a totally goofy doc-talk deal. Patients are looking to drop 20 years. Once you've gone through the consultation you'll have a pretty good feel for if you're going to be in the running for making this patient happy or not. If you're not going to make the person thrilled, give careful consideration to treating the patient at all. But if you're pretty comfortable with the treatment and feel that you can deliver, ask the patient what they would consider to be a grand slam home run and then discuss it. Don't try to talk them down too far. They'll be pretty reasonable (or you'll see that you can't make them happy) if you give them some rope here.

Drive patient happiness.

Everyone likes to have happy patients. They don't sue you and if you're lucky, they'll tell a friend or two. But how often do you think of 'patient satisfaction' as a byproduct rather than the actual aim.

Setting up your consultation with this kind of 'big win' potential gives the patient a target to aim for and a peg to hang their hat on if you come close. If you deliver, the patient feels that it wasn't just an average treatment and that you really are the cosmetic guru you're website says you are, and if you fall short you're still in the ball park and all is not lost.

Managing your patients expectations should really be around finding the buy-in point of where this 'grand slam' outcome is, NOT the base hit of finding an adequate result. (I know there's a lot of baseball analogies in here.)

Don't create more patients. Create more zealots.

Meeting expectations creates another satisfied customer. Boring, and not the way to build your business. But if you can use the consultation to define what a 'big win' is, manage expectations around that end point and then deliver on those, you're creating a zealot, and zealots build your business for you.

Yes, you already have a few zealots. Everyone else does too.

What you're looking to do here is bump up the percentage of zealots that you produce, because they'll work tirelessly to drive new patient traffic.

This tiny change in the way you think about your consultations can deliver disproportionate results.

What do you think?

Reader Comments (2)

I agree with this post wholeheartedly. I used to be just as bad as the mirror doc you mentioned above and for years I did well, but had a nagging suspicion that I could do better. My patients were happy but not fanatically so...
In the last 18 months I've focused on myself and how I come across to my patients and it's made a real difference, not only with my patients but with my bottom line. I'd estimate that the changes I made in the way I position myself and interact with patients during consultations boosted my bottom line by about 15% with no other changes and I've noticed that my patients are referring more.

Great stuff and very valuable.

I like the way you've explained about patients as zealots. I totally agree that patient happiness should be of prime importance these days. Actually, one should not forget that it is an industry out there. If you don't provide the recommended service to your patients, they have other docs to go to as well.

Abhineet Kumar

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