How I STILL see doctors miss opportunities to build trust before their patients even walk through the practice door

In the previous posts of this series, I got personal and vulnerable, sharing the story of the infant leukemia diagnosis that set the tone for my life of experience with doctors and the medical industry.  You can read about them here, here, and here .  Long story short, I have frequented doctors of all kinds for my entire life because of my many health complications, and it is still that way.  The results of this kind of life for me are twofold:


  1. I have a deep respect and appreciation for doctors and the work they do, work that has granted me and so many others years full of love, joy, and life that they otherwise would not have experienced.
  2. I have made many observations over the years about the myriad ways that doctors miss out on building trust with their patients simply because the demands of their practice and industry keep them focused on everything BUT marketing and communication.


And I still see it.  Here is the latest installment of Wendy’s medically complicated life and what it reveals to her about how doctors communicate.  Settle in for a story…


It all started a few months ago when I got a puzzling phone call out of the blue from a radiologist’s office.  The nice lady on the other end informed me that I would not be able to come in for my 8:00 am CAT scan appointment the next day, which was Friday because they had not received the referral from my ENT.  The call was surprising for a couple of reasons.  First, no one had informed me that they had scheduled an appointment in the first place.  Second, anyone who knows me also knows that a radiologist’s office is one of the last places they would ever hope to find me at 8:00 on a Friday morning.  So a bunch of stuff had happened behind the scenes with no communication to me about ANY of it.  I didn’t feel it was a great way to build trust.  Still, the receptionist was friendly enough, so we simply rescheduled for the next week, but MUCH later in the day.


Fast forward a week later.  We had endured an ice storm, not entirely unusual for Kentucky in February, and due to hazardous driving conditions and so much else, I resolved to stay safely indoors.  So, it was my turn to reschedule the CAT scan, a process I soon found to be more aggravating and time-consuming than I would have ever expected and which ended in frustrating defeat.  I began the process at 9:00 to give notice well in advance of the 2:00 appointment and, ultimately, ended up spending a fruitless half-hour attempting one method of communication after another until finally running out of channels to try and abandoned the effort.


Here’s the thrilling blow-by-blow.  Trust me—if you run a medical practice or a business of any kind, you will want to read this carefully and make sure you are not guilty of any of what follows.  Your patients will thank you for it!


First, I tried to call several times but quickly found that the phone tree endlessly directed me back to the beginning of the program no matter how many times I hit “1” to talk to an actual person.  Okay, I realized the ice storm might have been wreaking havoc with phone systems, so I was willing to forgive that one and move on.  But still, strike 1.


Next, I tried the very outdated website.  Beyond its dated appearance, layout, and design scheme, there was no contact form, which I recommend EVERY website have in this day and age.  It’s a pretty old concept but still an important and effective one.  If your website doesn’t have a contact form, I GUARANTEE you miss out on valuable and essential leads that would help your practice grow much more quickly.  If you don’t have a website, well, we should talk yesterday!  Anyway, no contact form.  So, I hit the contact link, which opened my email program, but didn’t fill in an email address!  Um, okay.  Well, not a whole lot I can do with that.  Now I’m starting to wonder and fearing that ice-coated phone lines are the least of the problems here—strike 2.


Finally, I took a look at their social media.  Facebook is a good bet.  Everyone’s on Facebook, right?  Yes, they were.  But the first thing I noticed was that their last post was more than four months old; this was not a good sign.  And my fears were realized—they did not activate the messaging feature.  There was no way for me to contact this radiology practice.  I mean, what was I going to do, post a public message on their wall?!  Strike three.


Three strikes and you’re out of there!  Sorry guys, I tried!  I know how valuable time is, especially doctor time, and I wanted to be proactive about it, but in the end, it didn’t matter because this practice didn’t have its marketing and communication ducks in a row.  How much did this destroy goodwill?  How many annoyed, upset, and frustrated patients move on? How many ask their primary physicians for a different referral because of problems like this? Problems that are fixable if you have the right marketing team looking at nurturing your current and potential patients.


So, I wasn’t able to cancel my appointment.  And sure enough, my phone rang right at 2:00, with the lovely receptionist wondering where I was.  Trying to be helpful, I recounted the saga, the harrowing tale of the three strikes, and offering guidance to improve communication at the practice.  Her response?  “So, do you want to reschedule?”  Yep, that was it: no apology, no empathy, no resolve to pass on the message and work toward improvement.


That’s so often the straw that breaks the camel’s back, folks.  Because everyone knows that sometimes things go wrong, and we all need to improve.  Not listen, validate, hear what your patients tell you about the way you market, communicate and conduct business.  That is why patients go to the competing practice across town or ask for a different referral.


I have some tangible, practical advice for you, based on my lifetime of observing doctors.  It’s simple, really, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  You need to have at least three accessible channels of communication for your patients, and they must all speak with a clear and receptive voice, which includes the voice of your human team.  Customer service counts.  In the end, it’s all wrap-around marketing, which combines digital and traditional methods to reinforce the results of each (for more about wrap-around marketing, see this series LINK).  All the digital marketing savvy in the world won’t save you if the voice on the other end of the phone doesn’t match the vibe your patients see on their phones or tablets.


It’s that simple.  And I’ve seen it over my entire life, as my complicated medical history unfolded, bringing me from one specialist to another.  I’ve observed this pattern firsthand, and I get it.  There are so many demands on doctors’ time, attention, and energy that keep them from focusing on marketing and communication in their practices as much as they should.  


But I believe in doctors because they saved me and gave me the priceless gift of decades of life and love that I would not have otherwise experienced.  And so it is my mission to help doctors improve this.  If this is a gift you need, I invite you to reach out to me today.  Let’s save your practice, so you can save more patients, put more years on their life, and more life in their years.  Because of my story, I am grateful for doctors like you, thankful for the gifts they give to patients like me, and I know how important this work is.  But it works better with trust, and trust only comes with good communication, and good communication only comes with effective marketing.  And effective marketing is what I’m here to do.  So let’s talk.


To schedule a free consultation…

PS – I’m excited to announce that I am re-launching my Small Group Program, 90 Days to a Full Booked Schedule! If you are looking to have every open patient slot open, check out my program here.

How Digitally Accessible Is Your Medical Practice?
All the ways that doctors shoot themselves in the foot by not taking control of their marketing and digital presence

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