By Dr. Haneef Alibhai, BSc, MDCM, CCFP, FCFP
IN A CULTURE that prizes youth and beauty, cosmetic physicians are well-positioned to offer services that rejuvenate, restore and renew. But doing so requires a savvy business sense and a keen understanding of the needs of the marketplace. Although the medical aesthetic industry is growing rapidly, greater competition exists now than just a few years ago. The demand for services has sparked an ample supply of physicians ready and waiting to treat patients. But what’s even more telling is that today’s consumers are far more sophisticated, knowledgeable and demanding than ever. They want better technology, better results, less downtime and better customer service. It’s this customer service that spells the difference between thriving and failing. And it begins with the first patient encounter—the phone call. The receptionist must be kind, caring and professional and must inspire confidence. Therefore, credentialing the doctor is highly important. Patients need to know they’ll be in good hands, with a skilled clinician who can provide the services they’re looking for. When patients come to your office, they want a “wow” experience. This means they need to feel pampered and special from the moment they walk into your facility. This translates into small, but meaningful gestures. The receptionist should greet the person by name, politely ask to take her coat, offer her a drink and a magazine. The patient should not wait any more than 10 minutes before seeing the doctor. Your staff needs to understand the importance of creating this “wow” experience. For some, this concept doesn’t come easily. That means you have to be discerning in your hiring process. While you certainly need skilled clinicians who can assist you, these same professionals must be congenial, pleasant, caring and kind.
When hiring staff, we look for the smile, which is our way of assessing personality. Will they give our patients the treatment and attention they demand and deserve? Will they treat patients with kindness, warmth and compassion? Customer service must underscore every patient encounter. As physicians, we must embrace this concept as well. When seeing patients, we must take a thorough history and spend time educating our patients about medical aesthetics and the various procedures and modalities which are available for patients to consider.