How 3 Minutes Can Kill Your Business

How 3 Minutes Can Kill Your Business

This past week a friend of mine visited a medical practice clinic. Her visit lasted less than four minutes. That would be a majorly impressive record if the connotation within that sentence allowed for only one (positive) result. Unfortunately, the record has a less than impressive ending, for both the patient and the medical practice.

How the Visit Started

My friend woke up with a severe pain in her back. Unable to drive, she called a neighbor to help shuttle her 20 miles to the nearest medical practice facility. As she shuffled into the building and up to the check-in area, she was greeted by a closed glass window. Behind the window sat two women. One was on the phone. The other was working at a computer. Both saw the lady, but neither took the time to acknowledge her existence. As she stood there, in pain, she watched as the lady on the computer picked up a jacket and fidgeted with it. A bit later she got up and took a bag containing her lunch somewhere before returning to continue fidgeting with her jacket.

How the Visit Ended

Fast forward three minutes and forty-eight seconds. My friend, still in pain and still unacknowledged by either woman at check-in, decided to leave. She shuffled back to the car where her neighbor was waiting, picked up the phone, and called me to tell me how horrible medical practices are when staffed by people who lack compassion.

How the Visit Really Ended

I am the first person she told about the visit, as she vowed she would never set foot in a medical practice again. The second person who heard about it was her neighbor, who was shuttling her to another clinic to be seen. I'm sure she told everyone at that facility about the incompetence she had just experienced, too. If the first practice is lucky, her negative word of mouth stopped there. She was pretty angry though, and angry people tend to share angry reviews as their means for justification and retaliation.

Lifetime Value of a Customer

 Assuming my friend was a cash pay patient, the front desk staff of the first practice let a minimum of $150 walk out the front door that day. More importantly, they lost the opportunity to win my friend's business for years to come. If the average person utilizes a doctor 2.5 times per year, that's a loss of at least $300/year in revenue. My friend also has a husband, a daughter and son-in-law, and three grandchildren. As much as I hate it for the clinic, that's an additional $1800/year they lost. And all because two people at the front desk couldn't stop long enough to open a window and explain they would be with my friend momentarily.

Think Your Clinic is Immune?

Think again. Two days later I took my daughter to a new pediatrician. Our pediatrician was unable to get my daughter in, and I had heard amazing things about the doctor. Her building was beautiful. The check-in lady was fantastic. The nurse, nurse practitioner, and finally the doctor who double checked to ensure us (newbie parents all the way) that the spot was just a bug bite, were all amazing. The doctor said she would welcome taking us on as new patients and to simply schedule our next wellness visit at check-out. My daughter's next round of vaccines was scheduled originally for two weeks away. Their first opening, however, was not until four weeks. It happened to fall during our family vacation. The next opening was six weeks out. I asked how the delay in vaccines would affect my daughter. She told me that was a question the nurse could answer during the visit. I tried to explain to her I needed the answer before making the appointment. It was like speaking to a wall. So, I looked at her and said, "We will just stay with our current pediatrician." Her response, "Ok! Well, call us if you change your mind." And just like that, $300+ a year walked out the door of the pediatrician's practice.

Moral of All This

What are you doing to ensure your staff is as passionate about keeping patients as you are? One bad apple can spoil the bunch, in less than three minutes. Join us at the Medical Practice Success Summit September 11-13 in Anaheim, CA to learn how to shape up your front desk and so much more!