When I was a child the grandparents of a friend owned the local grocery store. I have distinct memories of visiting the grocery store with her and watching the staff fill orders called in by various community residents. Store employees would then deliver those groceries to the homebound in our community.
Over the last several decades the grocery stores in my hometown were among the few where someone would load your groceries into your car for you. In the late 1990s and early 2000s we moved to a generation who wanted variety and were willing to give up some customer service to get it.
In the last couple of years boxed meal services, grocery delivery services and grocery pick up services have skyrocketed in popularity. Why? Because busy schedules mean consumers want an easy button for as many tasks as possible. Entrepreneurs and large companies alike have looked at their consumers and asked “what is my customers’ biggest pain point?”.
One of my favorite examples of a company answering this question is the Disney company. When guests arrive at Walt Disney World, what do they want most? To go to their rooms and rest or freshen up and get to the park. What is the last thing they want to do? Stand in a long line in the lobby to check in.
Disney solved that issue by allowing pre-paid guests to check in online and access their rooms without ever having to visit the lobby. How? By using their Magic Band, which Disney creatively named to make it just another part of a guest’s magic vacation.
Similarly grocery stores and entrepreneurs recognized that a whole slew of people do not want to spend hours shopping and another half hour checking out at the grocery store.
What’s easiemer than picking up a grocery order you placed online? Having it delivered for free.
In 2017, 90 million people in the United States paid for an Amazon Prime account. Amazon makes it easy to order (sometimes too easy) and Prime members receive free two-day shipping. Reports show Prime members spend more than double what non-prime members spend. And why wouldn’t they? They are able to order products at some of the lowest prices available and receive their orders in two days with no extra fee.
Local medical clinics may not compete directly with Amazon, Disney or Walmart, but patients still expect excellent customer service. Unfortunately medical providers have earned a reputation of long waits and poor service. And patients are showing their dislike with reviews on social media, Google and Yelp and by taking their business elsewhere.
The gut reaction is to remove the opportunity for people to leave those reviews but it only treats the symptoms and not the problems.
So what is a patient’s biggest pain point?
Google offers a slew of articles with bullet points about transparency, communication and respect. Providers who want to really know their patients biggest pain points can ask those patients. Summed up most patients want to spend less time waiting for an appointment and more time with their provider.
The question for providers becomes what would it cost to shorten wait times and increase face time with a provider? And then would the extra cost be worth it?
Technology exists to allow you to call, text or page a patient just a few minutes before their name will be called or to allow patients to place their name on a wait list with an expected time they will be seen. Think of it like call ahead seating instead of a reservation.
Practices who offer shorter wait times and providers who make the best use of their time with a patient will yield more word of mouth advertising that propels a business forward.
Sounds like a pipe dream, doesn’t it? But so did free two-day shipping on everything and accessing your hotel room without visiting the lobby.