Making your office an “experience” can help increase interest in your business, raising new patient numbers and patient retention. You can strive to make a treatment at your office an “experience” on a variety of different levels – meaning you can put just a little effort into it, or a lot. Keep that in mind as you read these examples; some of these business put a lot of effort(time and money) into creating an “experience” for their customers.
I’m not saying you have to spend lots of money or that you should necessarily mimic these ideas. But let the examples inspire you, and consider creating a level of “experience” in your office that feels comfortable and authentic to you. You can always build it as you go. Here we go!
Last post we talked about the importance of making sure the patient leaves your office with an overall good feeling, so they leave a positive review. So on the most basic level, you want to cultivate a patient experience that is smooth, streamlined, and pleasant. That should be the minimum you’re aiming for: pleasant. But the point of creating an experience is to take it a step further, making it more than just pleasant – how about making it really interesting, fun, relaxing, educational, or entertaining? Providing that little extra something, something memorable that sets your office apart from others in your area?
A huge part of marketing is making yourself unique from your competition in the eyes of your customers. They need to know why they should come see you instead of that other guy down the street. For most acupuncturists, the first thing we think of is our specialization. Maybe you’re different from other people in your area because you treat only infertility or you provide facial rejuvenation acupuncture. This kind of specialization is definitely important, but I’m talking about something different here. This is about offering more than just your specialization and a “nice” experience – give your patients something more comfortable, more interesting, more entertaining.
Let’s dive right into examples to illustrate what I’m getting at. Perhaps interior design is an interest of yours, and you cultivate a particular vibe in your office space. For example, check out this amazing office, Poke Acupuncture, out in California: www.PokeAcupuncture.com.
Poke’s acupuncturist, Russel Brown, L.Ac., MTOM, has been featured on numerous websites for the really unique style of his office. It brings him a lot of attention nationally, and it really sets him apart from other offices. It’s not hard to imagine that people will enjoy going to his office in the first place because its “cool,” “hip,” and “fun.” I want to be cool, hip, and fun, don’t you?
The point is, he has made going to his office an EXPERIENCE (in capital letters!). People pay extra for an experience. Additionally, they’re very likely to tell their friends about it, and to want to come back and experience it again.
Here’s another, different kind of example of a business that creates a specific environmental experience to entice potential customers. Consider the soothing, relaxing atmosphere at Elizabeth Wende Breast Center, a mammography office in Rochester (www.EWBC.com).
Unfortunately, they don’t have any pictures of their office on their website. What a shame! EWBC, you really need to put your office photos online! What a huge selling point they’re missing out on, lacking that visual.
ANYWAY. At EWBC, they create a totally different experience than the usual cold, impersonal doctor’s visit. When you walk in for a mammogram, the reception area is quiet, with soft music. After signing in, all patients change into soft, cloth gowns – no scratchy, cold paper gowns here. Patients relax in cushy chairs while they wait for their appointment. And they keep the temperature a little higher, because everyone is wearing a gown instead of a top. You can have a cup of coffee while you read your iPad and generally take a break from everyday life. It’s nice!
This isn’t EWBC, but this is the vibe I recall from their office, the one time I was there (and this is a dentist’s swanky office, by the way):
The reason EWBC strives so hard to create this atmosphere is that many women are nervous when they’re about to get a mammogram, because mammos are uncomfy and sometimes a little scary. (Sound familiar, maybe a little like acupuncture?) EWBC is trying so hard to make a generally unpleasant experience into something pleasant and memorable. And they are an extremely popular clinic now that they have a reputation for comfort. This is a great example of an “experience” that lends itself well to an acupuncture office (hint, hint).
One more example: Let’s talk about this experience-creating trend in higher education, because I want to make the point that MANY, varied types of business benefit from the creation of an “experience,” and higher ed is really taking this concept to a new level.
In higher education there has been a big push in the last decade to see students more as customers and less as simply students. In a nutshell, colleges are trying to entice students to choose them because they offer more than just an education – they are selling the whole experience of going to college. They are capitalizing on all the images students have when they think of going to college – hanging out in the quad wearing berets, sipping Starbucks and talking about philosophy while leaning casually against the steps of a big brick building… wait, are berets still relevant?
Students are no longer simply asking, “Will I get a good education here?” They’re asking, “Will I also have a great time here?” “What else will I experience besides my education?” So schools are spending a LOT more money to build up this experience to entice students to choose them. There are more brand-name restaurants right on campus, there are expensive activities featured to entice students in and keep them happy, etc.
Let’s use Finger Lakes School of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine to illustrate this. What does FLSAOM have that creates an experience that sets us apart from other acupuncture schools?
1) 286 acre campus; It’s rare for an acupuncture school to be situated on an actual campus, as opposed to just taking up a floor in an office building
2) Giant stonework Chinese herb garden; Educational, very beautiful, and great place for Qigong
3) Onsite cafeteria and Starbucks café
4) State of the art cadaver lab; Not completely necessary for an acupuncture education (most schools don’t have them), but above and beyond expectations
5) Onsite fitness center with track, pool, weights, aerobic room, and fitness classes
6) On-campus housing for students and families
7) Seriously awesome customer service (I mean, I work there, so…)
So our first-class education is wrapped up in this interesting, nurturing, entertaining environment, so students will pick us because we offer all these extras.
There are many ways to create an experience that is memorable and sets you apart, as we’ve seen in these examples. These businesses are all striving to make themselves interesting, to provide a better, more entertaining or unique experience than just “the basics.”
You can create this same concept in your office, to varying degrees. It gives customers a reason to choose your business over another. This is marketing. Give you patients a reason to choose you over another acupuncturist, above and beyond your specialty, above and beyond the basic fact that you provide a quality treatment; give them an experience.
Tune in next post for a list (who doesn’t love lists!) of ideas of how to create an experience by going above and beyond in your own acupuncture office.