Today, we conclude our trust building in the same way that your initial experience concludes with your patients. What we all commonly refer to as “the exit.” However, most practices get the exit all wrong.
Most view the exit as the end, when in fact it is actually only the end of the beginning and it is the beginning of so much more.
Exits are the most overlooked place where trust is won or lost. Think of it like a movie ending with a disappointing cliffhanger, but with no promise of a sequel. This ending typically comes after something that possibly didn’t feel that great or a new patient experience when the patient feels overwhelmed or otherwise confused. And just like that, it’s all over.
Worse yet, patients are asked for money and/or further scheduling. The two things they would rather not do.
We need a celebratory finish. And we need to reinforce the significance of what was accomplished as a positive outcome.
This is why you can’t take for granted the exit of any patient visit. And you must make sure it’s more than someone on the phone waving good bye and mouthing ‘see you next time.’ You want this to be as choreographed and intentional as everything else.
This is another reason we love to give a gift of some sort. Pedo gets it right with kids getting stickers, candy or prizes for no cavities.
What can you do to make your visit wow them at the end as much as the beginning? What can you do to make your practice memorable after they have left, not just while they are there?
These are two important questions to trust because it is what they leave with. The last thing they experience will be what they think about and remember most.
Trust is built through effective transfers, great communication, exiting, checking out, finishing a visit with as much professionalism and personal attention as there was in the first phone call and with each subsequent team member’s engagement.
Besides, the best reason of all to take every exit so seriously is because this is all about checks and balances in order to make sure no single patient falls through the cracks.
No one would just let the phone ring and ring and ring and then say ‘oh well’ if it isn’t answered. But, often that’s the feeling of a rushed exit.
There is no next time – there is only this time. Let no patient leave without scheduling, payment, expressing gratitude, ensuring there is full trust and being transparent with next steps.
And there is no better way to do this than in a defined area such as the consult room or other specified place with specific person. This is no different than the phone; you can have back-ups but you should have a key person responsible for this.
At the end of every day, you’ll know what happened because every “i” is dotted, every “t” is crossed and every patient is accounted for.
Because this is what leads to the most vital part of all trust in every relationship – FOLLOW THROUGH and FOLLOW UP.
I will let that speak for itself. No matter what was promised (or if nothing was at all), what happens when a patient leaves is as important as what happens when they are there because MOST patients (sadly) leave without finality or conclusive next steps in money, scheduling, treatment acceptance or even feeling valued.
This is why the hand-written cards; the follow-up phone calls; the acknowledgement of yes, no or maybe; and the continuation of the relationship is so important.
I’d make sure, just like a decision tree for any path a patient would follow for anything else, I have one for every type of “end” leading into a next action for every patient visit and conclusion. So that you solidify the trust not only before they walk out the door but after they leave. Showing up again after the fact is one of the most powerful things you can ever do.
Exits matter. Just like every other part of the experience. The trust factor multiplies for the entire visit when the 7 parts are executed perfectly.