This week on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, Jennifer sits down with Christine Lapointe, owner and CEO of Aesthetics 360, to discuss the concept of “hostmanship” and how making patients feel welcome at your practice can help deliver an exceptional patient experience, boost your overall patient satisfaction numbers and increase the bottom line.

Tune in to discover: 

  • What hostmanship is and why it is critical to the patient experience
  • The number one way you can generate loyalty among your patients
  • How to do hostmanship right
  • TIps to make hostmanship feel more natural for both employees and patients
  • The best ways to greet and say farewell to patients

References:

Jan Gunnarsson – Hostmanship: The Art of Making People Feel Welcome

About Christine Lapointe, BA

Christine Lapointe, BAChristine Lapointe was born and raised in New England and is a graduate of The University of California at Riverside. Her work experience in the elective surgery industry began in 1996, and she has since gained national recognition as a consultant, public speaker and published author.

Her work experience in this sector has included Sales Director with Modern Postcard, Business Development Specialist with Advanced Medical Optics, Practice Development Manager with IntraLase Corporation, National Sales Manager for The Laser Vision Institute and Area Manager for Lasik Plus and Summit Vision Centers.

Additionally, Christine has continued to work as a consultant for both private practices and nationally acclaimed academic institutions in both the Vision Correction and Aesthetic industries. Christine has a great understanding of both the technical and business challenges facing the elective procedure industry for both physicians and manufacturers. Her intimate knowledge of the vision correction and aesthetic markets provides insight into the intricacies required to successfully introduce and launch new technologies into practices and device companies from the inside out.

Christine also has extensive experience in staff training and motivation, sales counseling techniques, marketing strategies, web strategies, as well as public relations and outreach. In her spare time, Christine volunteers in her community as a Board Member to the COA (Council on Aging in Monson, MA) and enjoys spending time at home with her husband of 24 years, Big G, along with their five dogs and four birds.

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Transcription

Speaker 1: Dr. Marketing Tips, paging Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you’re needed in the marketing department.

Speaker 2: Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.

Jennifer: Hey there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. This is your cohost, Jennifer, and today I am joined by our very good friend, Christine LaPointe. LaPointe?

Christine Lapointe: LaPointe.

Jennifer: LaPointe from Aesthetics 360. Welcome to the show, Christine.

Christine Lapointe: Thanks for having me.

Jennifer: Awesome. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you come from, and a little bit about your company for our listeners that maybe haven’t heard you on the show before.

Christine Lapointe: Perfect. So again, my name is Christine LaPointe, and my company is called Aesthetics 360. But I started in the healthcare industry in 1996 when we started doing PRK and laser vision correction. So with that, I’ve also worked inside a medical practice. I’ve been a counselor, I’ve managed practices, managed multiple laser centers throughout the United States, and then worked for medical device companies. So did the full circle and then decided to branch out and start consulting on my own.

Christine Lapointe: But I wanted to get out of ophthalmology, and I knew that I could take a lot of the components of what I knew and they would translate into aesthetics, surgical derm, plastics. And so we’ve actually even worked with OB/GYN, we’ve worked with all of those. But because we’re known in ophthalmology, we’ve been pulled back in quite a bit. So we have a large ophthalmology clientele, and we actually work nationally and internationally. So we work quite a bit in Canada, we’ve also worked in London.

Jennifer: Excellent. So you get around all over the place.

Christine Lapointe: We do, and the nice thing about that is we get to actually see some of the best of the best. And people let us share that information, so we can actually bring information. So people think sometimes when you’re a consultant, you’re going in and you’re looking at everything that’s wrong. But a lot of times, we’re actually gaining more information that we can bring to another client that they wouldn’t have been privy to.

Jennifer: I think that’s fantastic, because that’s the same philosophy that we have here on the podcast. So our practices, we work inside of medical practices. In fact, we’re sitting inside of a very large orthopedic practice right now doing this interview. And we’re able to take what we see every single day in the field and translate that not only to our clients, but also as a free education that we put out there to the public. This is episode 210, give or take, probably right in there, of doing this show, and we’ve done it for about five years now. I get a lot of feedback from practices out there that might just be starting out that just find our stories so valuable. So they don’t have to go down a path and maybe fail and spend unnecessary money, because they can learn from the mistakes that have already been made and the successes.

Jennifer: So it’s great that we share that same philosophy, going into something and giving that good information and sharing it. Because look, we can give it all away for free. It’s up to somebody if they think they can actually implement it. Or if they want to hire us, fantastic. But if not, I’m giving you all the secret sauce that you can handle.

Jennifer: So today I want to talk about something that really ties to patient experience and the patient journey, and I really think workplace culture and employee engagement. Something that it seems like both of our groups are very passionate about, and that’s hostmanship. So why don’t you explain to our listeners what you define as hostmanship and how you think it works in a medical practice.

Christine Lapointe: Sure. And I’m going to go backwards just a little bit to tell you why I found it and where I found it. So I’ve always been passionate about the patient experience, but today, practices are not just competing with the practice down the street and the same type of practice. Patients are actually comparing the service they’re getting to other companies, like to Amazon or different companies that provide good service.

Christine Lapointe: So it’s almost like we have to circle back to the patient experience to get practices to realize… We would love it to just be about the doctor’s experience, but it really boils down to how somebody feels. And so when I was thinking about how can I excite this group of people I was training about understanding that it’s how somebody feels at the end of the day, I found a consultant, I think he was in Sweden, Jan Gunnarsson, who started talking about hostmanship. And what it means is that instead of looking at people transactionally, you’re actually looking at the patient as a guest in your home and you’re the host. And if you think about it, we spend more time in the office than we actually do at home. So the theory is if you begin to look at that interaction differently, the whole dynamic between you and the patient changes. You start to even look at the appearance of the office, and expecting your patients instead of seeming surprised, because you would expect your guests to come to your house. So that’s where it comes from.

Jennifer: I have a practice that I’m working with right now who’s actually going through… They’ve got a local hospital who has purchased the biggest player in town that’s their biggest competitor in town, and now they’re going to be hospital employed physicians. So we’ve got, this practice has a bunch of negatives coming at them from every direction. And there’s only so much that you can control, and a lot of this, most of it’s out of their control. But we just had a meeting today where we said, what is the one we actually can control? And it’s the experience that we provide to the patients. It’s that guest service, it’s that customer service, taking it to that next level. So I think hostmanship plays directly into that. When there’s nothing else that you can actually control, focus on the things that matter the most and that you can control. And how you treat other people is the easiest way to make a real impact with other practices, I think.

Christine Lapointe: It’s true. When you make somebody feel good, people tend to spend money on things because they feel good about it that may be a little bit more than they would have spent somewhere else. For example, a lot of people buy things that have pink on them because they know that a percentage of it is going to breast cancer. I don’t know what the percent is, but they feel better because they feel like they’re doing something. And so when people feel good, they tend to be more loyal.

Jennifer: Yes. And loyalty is so important right now, especially when you’re playing on price. If you’re in network, then chances are they’re going to be loyal to you or they’re going to be loyal to the next practice that’s in network. But when it becomes a cash based business or it’s a specialty they have a choice of, that loyalty, it makes all the difference in the world. So do you have any examples of the hostmanship or who does hostmanship right with any of the practices that you work with?

Christine Lapointe: There are some practices that are doing it right because they’re starting to embrace it. And then once they’ve started to embrace it, I think we talked about at one point, another time you and I, about benchmarks and monitoring and measuring. The practices that actually look at, say, their traffic patterns and they survey their patients, we have some benchmarks. So when we start putting these things like hostmanship in place and teaching the desk how to do a warm welcome and a fond farewell. And then we start looking at the reviews online, we start looking at the surveys and we look at the numbers again month over month, we actually do see that it’s making an impact. Sometimes we see an increase in acceptance rates on procedures. Sometimes we’ll see a huge increase online with surveys, which is great.

Christine Lapointe: So the practices that are doing it the right way, that are embracing it, are also doing all those things we talked about. They’re doing surveys for their patients, they have an online presence, they’re looking at what’s going on online. And then they’re addressing anything they need to address with patients that have concerns.

Corey: Hey guys. Corey here, cohost of the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. I wanted to interrupt this episode just for a minute to tell you about Insight Training Solutions. So Insight Training Solutions is an ongoing employee engagement and training platform for your medical practice, meaning employees can log on and take these medical practice specific trainings whenever and wherever they are. Each training is meant to increase employee engagement, improve practice reputation, and develop some patient service mindsets. If we’re being honest, something that we all know, some of the employees may lack. Not calling anybody out by name.

Corey: But one of the cool things about Insight Training Solutions is they’re always developing new content. They just released 10 Steps to a Phenomenal Patient Experience, where you’ll learn how to create a phenomenal patient experience, strengthen job security, and discover customer service secrets for your entire team. So this course is in addition to the other ones they already have, which include Communication Across Generations and How to Understand Today’s Multigenerational Workforce and How to Develop Overall Patient Experience. This is another course, The New Approach to Customer Service. We’ve also got Eight Ways to Wow Patients. And you can sign up for a free trial to see what everything is about at insighttrainingsolutions.io. That’s insighttrainingsolutions.io, or just Google Insight Training Solutions. You’ll be glad you did.

Jennifer: When we bring on a client, one of the very first things we do, depending on their size, we’ll do what we refer to as a sentiment analysis. So we’ll go out there and capture all of their online reviews, bring them in house, put them into a spreadsheet, and then categorize them based on where the negative reviews are taking place. So we can see in a snapshot, is it a customer service issue? Is it complaints within the billing department? Is it because it’s taking them too long to answer the phone? Is the doctor being a jerk? Is their problem with the PA? So when we look at that and then go in and offer suggestions… And I think hostmanship is one of those things that when you focus on customer service or the way that you’re treating patients or the way that you’re delivering an exceptional experience, we can watch the needle move one way or another. And so doctors like those numbers. And when you can track them, that’s how you’re successful.

Christine Lapointe: And another thing that one of my practices is actually doing is, not everybody love this, but they actually video tape the patient and the counselor, this particular practice. And the patients know that there’s audio and video, they sign a release. And what they do is we actually randomly pull videos. And then they actually have me critique the videos and then we use them as a learning tool. Because a lot of times, the staff just doesn’t even see the little things that they might’ve done that they can correct as far as greeting the patient and hostmanship. So the audio video is a great tool if you use it the right way.

Jennifer: I think that’s a great tool. It’s one thing to be told something, but if you can see it for yourself, it’s so simple. Making a minor tweak can make a huge difference.

Christine Lapointe: And don’t forget on the phone too, we do that on the phone. So some practices have call centers or communication centers, and that’s hostmanship as well. They’re the first contact, they’re welcoming the patient. So we’ll often randomly just pull the calls, and we’ll tell the staff that there’s maybe five things they need to do all the time when we pull the calls. One of them is just welcoming the patient and stating their name and thanking them for calling. But you’d be surprised when you tell them you’re recording the calls, how much better they start to do.

Jennifer: Yeah, I can imagine that. I can absolutely imagine that. So over the top customer service can sometimes feel a bit transaction-like. Do you have any tips for making hostmanship seem more natural to the employee and to the patient?

Christine Lapointe: That’s a really good question. I think a lot of it’s generational sometimes too. I grew up with the respect that a man stands up when you’re leaving the table. Or when you meet people, you shake a hand. And you teach people how to shake hands, there’s a right way and a wrong way to shake hands. There used to be women’s groups that we used to teach women how to dress, how to shake a hand, how to interview. So some of it’s generational. Some people just, the thought doesn’t even cross their mind to stand up and welcome someone and shake their hand, or to say it was our pleasure having you as our guest today. So sometimes if we just actually show them how to do it, they start to do it. It just didn’t enter their mind. So are you asking me on tips on how to do that?

Jennifer: Yeah. That’s right.

Christine Lapointe: One is role playing, showing them how to do it. I often will just come in and randomly take pictures so they can see what they actually look like when they’re just sitting there doing that.

Jennifer: That’s nice. I love surprise pictures.

Christine Lapointe: And then they go, oh, because you think, what is that patient perceiving when they’re looking at you? So role playing, which by the way, you would think that people wouldn’t want to do that. But we’ve surveyed practices that we work with or large groups, and they actually ask for it.

Jennifer: I’ve been to two of your bootcamps now, and I’m amazed at how much the employees seem to be engaged during the role playing exercises.

Christine Lapointe: Yeah. Because it’s one thing to tell someone, greet someone and have a warm welcome. But you have to actually show them and make them do it.

Jennifer: Absolutely.

Christine Lapointe: Step out of their comfort zone.

Jennifer: So the very first interaction and the very last interaction with a patient is likely to be the most important. How would you suggest we train our staff to greet a new patient walking through the door?

Christine Lapointe: Well, we need to acknowledge the patient within 30 seconds. As soon as the door opens, if you’re near the door, you should be looking up. And I know there’s multiple things going down at the front desk, but you can still acknowledge somebody and make eye contact and let them know they’re welcome with a smile, if not anything else. And then when they come up to the desk, I’m a big fan of standing up and saying hello to the patient and not pointing. So standing up, welcoming the patient to the office. A lot of the practices are now offering beverages, something for the patient to drink while they’re waiting. And that’s important. I’m going to tell you why in a sidebar in one second. Because we have long wait times. If you ask any practice, I don’t care what type of practice you’re in, what’s your biggest challenge?

Jennifer: Wait times.

Christine Lapointe: They’ll say wait times and cost objections. Those are the two things they say. So if you’re waiting, I wouldn’t want to sit for two hours without being offered water. And then when they’re leaving, I think actually thanking them again for being our guest, reconfirming their appointment time. And then actually saying, “I’m not sure if the doctor told you about our added services,” and maybe handing them something that has a menu of services. Those patients may not know that we have additional services. So closing with, “Thank you for coming. I’m not sure if the doctor told you about these services that we’ve added lately, but if you’d like, you can go over to that area and look.” Or, “Would you like me to schedule an appointment for that?” One of those types of closing. And then always tell them you look forward to seeing them at their next visit.

Jennifer: That’s great information. I bet you a lot of our listeners are going through their minds right now, do I do this or does my front desk do this?

Christine Lapointe: Normally what they do is, “Oh, you’re all set. You don’t have a copay. See you later.”

Jennifer: See ya. If they even say goodbye. If they even say goodbye. So do you have any tips for helping to manage upset customers?

Christine Lapointe: Well, if we talk about hostmanship, that’s a proactive approach to making somebody feel good. So even though you may have a long wait time, if you’ve already welcomed someone and they’re feeling good, people tend to be a little more forgiving of things that occur. But if someone’s upset, because it will happen, what you want to do is actually acknowledge what’s occurring. And you can apologize, but you can’t just say I’m sorry. You have to say something like, “Jennifer, I am really sorry that this happened to you today. Let me see if I understand so we can solve the problem.”

Christine Lapointe: So reiterate to them what’s wrong, because God forbid you’re trying to solve a problem and you didn’t get it right. They’re not going to be a happy person, right? So you apologize to them for whatever happened to them that day, for how it occurred. And then you reiterate what’s going on, and then you’d say, “Let’s see if we can solve this together. How does that sound?” And usually that will calm someone down. Of course, sometimes you do have to get a manager at the end of the day.

Christine Lapointe: But I think a lot of people are… Again, this is generational. I hate to pick on people, but they frequently think that the patient is just cranky or that patient is old and they have Alzheimer’s. We get this all the time. So the other thing I would tell you, the other tip is to have all of your staff become a patient for a day. Have them go through the entire process and see what it is actually like so they can understand it. And then tell them, “How would you like your family members to be treated if it was them on the other side? What would you do to make an improvement, especially if it was a family member?” So random tips.

Jennifer: I think that’s great tips, and I think hostmanship is something that all of the practices that are listening should be thinking about in 2020. It’s something every one of us can improve on and it’s something that doesn’t really cost a lot of money to put the focus on.

Christine Lapointe: It’s easy.

Jennifer: Absolutely. So you could say on a Monday that you’re going to do it, and by Friday you could be an expert at it if you just give it some effort.

Christine Lapointe: That’s right.

Jennifer: So I want to say thank you for joining us on the show. Do you have anything you want to add?

Christine Lapointe: Thank you for having me and I look forward to being on the show again.

Jennifer: Excellent. So with that, I’m Jennifer, and we’ll see you next time on the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. Thanks a bunch.

Speaker 2: Thanks for listening to the drmarketingtips.com podcast. If there’s anything from today’s show you want to learn more about, check out drmarketingtips.com for our podcast resource center with all the notes, links, and goodies we mentioned during the show. If you’re not already a subscriber to our show, please consider pressing the subscribe button on your podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes. And if you haven’t given us a rating or review yet on iTunes, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our medical practice peers. Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time. Doctor’s orders.

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