Start Connecting with the Patient on the First Call
Your patients want to identify with you and your staff. If you can make the prospective patient feel good, important, and comfortable as well as an understanding of their needs, they are yours.
The connection starts with rapport-building on the initial telephone call they make to your office.
It’s imperative your receptionist be friendly, upbeat, professional, and trained to use their tone of voice and strategic scripts to “lead” the caller to book a consultation with you.
Otherwise, if they can’t get past the receptionist, they’re never going to meet you!
For example, your receptionist needs to introduce herself first and then learn the caller’s name so she can use it throughout the call. Using someone’s name automatically creates more of a bond and makes the patients feel more important.
But your receptionist also needs to be skilled at asking specific questions and getting answers from the caller that moves them to schedule a consultation with you.
Asking the caller questions such as which procedure they’re interested in, and then reassuring them that’s a very popular procedure you perform, puts them more at ease.
Your receptionist also needs to be skilled at asking for the consultation. The caller is not going to just hand it to them.
For example, have your receptionist convert early by offering a choice of your next two appointment days/times that are still available. If they pick one, they are moving forward.
Too much time between when the caller reached out to you and when they can visit you is dangerous. They can easily continue to research your competitors who can accommodate the caller’s schedule better or talk to their friends who talk them out of it and so on.
Fill up this lag time and stay connected with the prospective patient to build trust while they are waiting for their consultation with you.
Have a structure in place where you “drip” information to them so they get excited about showing up to meet you in person.
For example, as soon as they book a consultation, mail or digitally send them a formal patient information packet that contains a letter from you and a handwritten comment from your patient coordinator looking forward to meeting them. Include specific information about the procedure they are interested in, your credentials and photo, your office and staff bios, policies, and directions.
A couple of days later, send them your PR pieces with a link to your Youtube channel so they can “see” you as an authority.
A couple of days after that, send them reviews and testimonials from your other patients who love their results with links to your Instagram account to see before/after photos your other patients have posted.
This “drip campaign” helps the patient feel as if they have met you already and positions you as the expert. This is how they show up much more ready to say yes to you.
Rapport-Building Between Surgeon and Patient
Your consultation with the patient can make or break their decision to move forward with you…or not, so rapport-building is essential.
Actually, rapport-building is one of the most important personality skills a plastic surgeon needs to be successful.
You build rapport through words, tone of voice, eye contact, and gestures since:
- 7% of what is communicated is through words
- 38% through tone of voice
- 55% body language – facial expressions, gestures, and movements
How do you get others to identify with you? You act like a reasonable, confident, and professional person to gain their cooperation, loyalty, and respect.
Arrogance does not sell so you don’t pull rank or overplay your authority.
- You speak to patients with empathy and understanding.
- You speak to their needs, hopes, dreams, and aspirations.
- You speak to patients on a human level and let them know you
can help them with their concerns.
Logic does not prevail at this point, and reasoning can fail because this is all about emotions. Actually, logic by itself will rarely influence people.
To persuade people, you must understand, and address, what they are saying, use analogies and metaphors that patients can relate to, and show them evidence of your excellent work.
How to Create Rapport
Building rapport is simple but it takes time since you are looking for commonalities you have with the patient, so you can build a connection.
You have to care enough to go the extra step because it makes the difference between a prospective patient booking surgery or continuing to shop around.
Here are ways to build rapport with your patients:
1) Show interest in them as a person first, patient second. Smile when you see them, extend your hand, make eye contact, and use magic words and phrases such as:
- “Hello” with a smile and “Glad to meet you”
- Use the patient’s name often
- Ask them how they are doing
2) Create or discover things in common with the patient:
- Perhaps it’s your patient who referred her
- Or that your kids go to the same school
- Or a friend of yours works at the same company they work at
3) “Mirror” the patient’s breathing patterns, posture, tonality, and gestures
- If the patient talks fast, you talk fast
- If the patient talks loud, you talk loud
- If the patient is meek and quiet, you slow things down
- Use the same terms and phrases the patient uses such as nose job
When done right, the prospective patient will feel a connection to you. They’ll feel that you understand them. That’s when they start looking at you as the perfect surgeon for them.
Listening is a skill. The prospective patient needs to know you heard them, you heard their concerns and you addressed their fears.
Effective listening requires more than hearing the words transmitted. It demands that you find meaning and understanding of what’s being said.
Note your listen-versus-talk ratio. Please let the patient talk so they feel heard and leave room for their questions. Then answer with tact, concern, and interest. Try to see things from their point of view or frame of reference.
Listen with empathy. While you’ve been through this thousands of times, this is their first time so have compassion.