Creating the Ultimate Physical Therapy Experience: Step 2, Optimize the First Impression (virtually)

In my previous blog post, I had illustrated how the customer experience drives the cash market value of your physical therapy services. This treatment experience is far more than just the physical therapy you deliver. It’s actually comprised of a series of smaller encounters occurring before, during, and after the treatment rendered. Each one builds on the previous, until the desired outcome is achieved. Furthermore, if you exceed their expectations at every touch point, you have the opportunity to turn your clients into brand ambassadors who can help accelerate the growth and success of your business.

In today's post, I am going to discuss how first impressions influence value.

THE VIRTUAL IMPRESSION

Even before they set foot in your clinic, prospective clients must be convinced that your services are worth at least as much as your asking price. Otherwise, they will find a physical therapist who is willing to charge less than you charge, or a cash-based physical therapist who can create more perceived value than you can.

Most physical therapists miss the simple and relatively inexpensive opportunities to increase their perceived value through digital marketing tools and pre-visit preparation. It’s absolutely critical to get these virtual experiences right if you expect to win the hearts, minds, and loyalty of your customers. The first impression sets the stage.

Start by making your client’s virtual encounter a great one. Once they discover you online, it must be easy for them to navigate your website, find the information they need, get answers to some of their questions, and request an appointment.

I recommend a fast-loading website with up-to-date photos, videos, and descriptions about you, your staff, and your services. Just as important as the functionality and visual appeal of this site, your value proposition must be clear and concise. It should answer these two questions:

1. Why would someone pay more to go outside of their insurance network to see you?

2. How is your approach better than the one delivered by a conventional PT (or other providers) in your community?

Keep in mind that it does absolutely no good to have a phenomenal website if people cannot find it. Optimize each page for search engine results utilizing SEO strategies (Google, etc.). Additionally, you should consistently blog about any specific areas of study, such as sports rehab or women’s health, to enhance your search rankings. Blogging also helps you build trust in the industry by positioning yourself as an expert.

Having great online reviews from clients can also dramatically improve your local search rankings. Furthermore, your value proposition has more credibility when it’s validated by your customers. Some of these online reviews should be re-posted on your website and on social media.

At Activcore, for example, we get many 5-Star reviews from customers who feel strongly that our one-on-one treatment model, distinct neuromuscular approach, and exceptional clinical outcomes make it well worth our asking price.

Some people will try to find you on Facebook or Instagram, instead of Google. Having an active social media presence makes your physical therapy clinic easier to find. Use these media platforms to engage your target audience and follow up with regularly scheduled outreach strategies.

Hire a professional if you don’t have the time or skill set to implement these digital strategies yourself. They’re far too important to neglect.

THE IMPRESSION OVER PHONE AND EMAIL

If you offer a great online experience that targets the right audience, customers will reach out to schedule an appointment.

People who call a physical therapy clinic are often in pain. They deserve your care, compassion and patience. Prospective customers expect you to listen and provide informed answers to their questions. This conversation might determine whether or not they become actual customers.

The attitude and professionalism of the person who picks up the phone is key. If your front office person doesn’t meet or exceed these qualities, it’s time to get busy training or get busy hiring.

I provide periodic training to my staff on how to deliver a positive experience at every touch point. A scheduled appointment shouldn’t be treated as a closed sale. You still have to do a lot of work to manage expectations and set the right tone. Simply put, there shouldn’t be any surprises by the time the client walks through your door.

Confirm the first appointment by phone or email, and explain what they should expect and how they should prepare for their initial appointment. This gives you an opportunity to make a personal connection and put the client’s mind at ease. Spell out your message in a detailed email, including a link to your electronic check-in forms.

Finally, I highly recommend verifying the client's health insurance benefits and explaining any out-of-pocket costs prior to their arrival. Customers appreciate our price transparency and typically prefer to deal with as little paperwork as possible when they arrive in person.

Check out my next blog post explaining how to build value at the initial appointment.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Ian Kornbluth, Co-Founder

CEO | President
Ian's entrepreneurial spirit stems from growing up in Arizona around the family business — a small chain of "New York Style" pizzerias. Early on in life, Ian learned how to treat the customer like a person, rather than a number. He observed how the community came together to support an establishment that offered both quality food and an exceptional customer service experience. He also learned to appreciate how much sacrifice, perseverance and integrity that it took to make a positive change in the world around him.
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