While waiting for a flight to a recent chiropractic event, I overheard the ticket agent at the gate next to mine on his cellphone. His side of the conversation went something like this: "Where are you now? How long before you think you can be at the gate? OK, that will work, see you soon."
After he hung up, he informed the other ticket agent, "Passenger Bill Jones will be here in about 6 minutes." I recognized the name; they had paged him several times on the public address system.
I had never heard a ticket agent actually use their cellphone to call a passenger to help them make their flight. Needless to say, I was very impressed. I've been flying commercial airlines for almost 60 years and have rarely witnessed such excellent customer care. In an era in which most airlines are focused on volume, this one still knew how to serve the customer. The carrier with the impressive service, in case you are wondering, is Alaska Airlines.
The Power of the Slogan
Back when I was a boy (1962), there was a brilliant advertising campaign that went "viral" across the country. The three-word slogan was seen everywhere. The company behind the slogan gave out small, white buttons with their slogan printed in simple red lettering in a multitude of different languages that many people collected. The campaign slogan was presented in the form of a promise to customers that lasted 50 years: We try harder.
The company making the promise was Avis, the second largest car rental company at the time (Hertz was first), but Avis was losing money due to its lack of standing with consumers. Within a year of launching the slogan, Avis' revenue went from a $3.2 million loss to $1.2 million in earnings. This was the first time it had been profitable in almost 13 years. Eventually, Avis' market share compared to Hertz moved from 29 percent vs. 61 percent to 36 percent vs. 49 percent.1
Health Care Is No Different
Chiropractic would be well served to take a page out of the Avis playbook. While the illegal actions of the AMA, payers' reimbursement refusals and the tyranny of managed care still have an impact on us, the current challenge is more one of market competition – much like what Alaska Airlines faces daily.
In short, every doctor of chiropractic is competing with every other health care provider and product for the health care dollars spent by the people in their community. Based on the many offices I have visited, this competition requires every DC to excel in at least three areas in order to win patients:
- Communication – An effective website, a social media presence and great reviews on rating websites (Yelp, Google, etc.) can make or break a practice. The same holds true for your reputation in smaller communities. Anything you do that brings the message of chiropractic to the people outside your office will lead to greater success. For example, a regular, well-produced e-newsletter presents your practice to potential patients you would never meet otherwise.
- Presentation – What your patients see when they come into your reception area impacts how often they come in and to what degree they will refer. They won't bring friends to an office with an embarrassing first impression. Many offices I see have receptions that look like they were last remodeled in 2003, featuring a clutter of old magazines and the odd binder of outdated articles. Digital signage, refreshment stations and Wi-Fi are a must to welcome and educate patients. (Note: While background music is nice, don't use your consumer Spotify or Pandora app account in your office. It's a violation of the user agreement to use it for business purposes and companies are starting to crack down on abusers with $60,000-plus fines.2-3 Some reception digital signage companies provide licensed music as an add on.)
- Execution – Yes, they are your patients, but they are also your customers. Being a great adjuster is job #1, but don't forget job #2: being a great listener. Find out what your patients need. If you don't want to provide a product or service, refer them to a trusted provider. If you don't have what they need and aren't willing to assist them, they will go elsewhere.
Try Harder – It Will Pay Off
In short, every DC should be trying harder. This is the best way to win people over to the chiropractic philosophy of health. People get tired of being treated coldly by many in the medical community. This is why our founders were so emphatic in their efforts to instill us with the values of caring and service. As the Alaska gate agent demonstrated, it does make a difference. Better care and better service will always win.
Editor's Note: If you're looking for the best digital signage for your reception area, take a look at what we've developed at GoChiroTV.com. Educating patients is one of our passions.
- Stevenson S. "We're No. 2! We're No. 2! How a Mad Men–Era Ad Firm Discovered the Perks of Being an Underdog." Slate.com, Aug. 12, 2013.
- "Can I Use Spotify at My Business or School?" Support.spotify.com.
- "25 Businesses Were Sued For Playing Copyright Music. Don't Be Next." Blogs.spectrio.com.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.