Creating the Ultimate Physical Therapy Experience: Step 3, Nail the First Visit

When you exceed expectations at every touch point, customers feel like you are worthy of their time and money. They tend to be more willing to go outside of their insurance network, pay cash, and tell everyone around them about you. On the contrary, if you miss the mark at any point, the perceived value of your service can suffer.

In previous posts, I explained why driving value over price is so important for the sustainability of your physical therapy business. I revealed how the customer service experience is actually comprised of many small encounters. Each one builds on the next to eventually shape the customer’s perceived value. I also explained how to optimize the virtual experience. I discussed digital marketing strategies, phone calls and emails that allow you to establish real value, even before the person steps foot into your office.

Now that you have set the stage, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the client to arrive. Right?

Absolutely not. If you nailed the virtual experience, expectations will be high. You have to build on that value by also delivering an exceptional physical experience.


You know what they say about first impressions. Many clients start judging the quality of your service from the moment they approach your facility. Do you have handicap parking and accessibility? Is this a professional setting with well-maintained grounds? Do you have adequate lighting to make sure your clients feel safe?

These are just a few of many questions you should be asking yourself about your facility location. Keep in mind that clients have a choice where they go for their physical therapy. You don’t want to give them any reason to go somewhere else.


The vibe people feel when they enter your facility sets the tone for the rest of the appointment. You want their faces to literally light up with enthusiasm and optimism. You need them to say to themselves, “I made the right choice!”

At Activcore, we seem to get this reaction over and over again. We have clean and elegantly designed reception areas, brightly lit and open treatment areas, and state-of-the-art equipment. Some people have commented on an almost palpable feeling of excitement in the air.

Of course, a stunning reception goes much deeper than just the facility itself. Never underestimate the value of an ear-to-ear smile. Your front desk person should be prepared and ready to greet new clients and take them through the check-in process. This person has to be friendly, respectful, and knowledgeable.

Having an inviting atmosphere and the right attitude can go a long way towards creating an exceptional customer service experience. On the other hand, the slightest hint of unprofessionalism or inconsiderate behavior can destroy any value you have built up to this point.


Here are 5 strategies proven to help your physical therapists make a lasting first impression:

1. Start on time:  This tells the customer, right out of the gate, that you respect their time and money.

2. Communicate effectively:  Listen, pay attention, and don’t rush or cut them off. Showing genuine empathy for what your customers are going through can help you earn their trust.

3. Be present:  If you want your clients to invest in their health, you must show you are fully invested in them. That’s only possible if you aren’t on your phone or computer during the session.

4. Follow the evidence:  Your evaluation should be done with careful thought and purpose. Spend time listening and assessing the customer to get to the root cause of whatever it is that's holding them back from feeling, moving, and performing at their very best. It is your job to do everything in your power to help them reach their goals in as few visits as possible.

5. Get “buy-in” from the client:  Don’t just go over what you are going to do with them, such as administering manual therapy or therapeutic exercises. You should also educate and convince the customer how implementing those strategies on a regular basis will translate into a better quality of life. They need to see that you have a clearly defined path for them to follow with measurable goals and a realistic timeline.

If you've got these 5 strategies down, there's one more that takes your perceived value to another level. My 6th strategy involves helping the customer come up with just one "wildly important goal" that is most meaningful to them. It is this sense of purpose (the why) that will get them to fully commit to a plan of care.

By the end of the appointment, your clients should be saying to themselves, “That was well worth my time and my money.” They should also be looking forward to their next visit.

Check out my next blog post explaining how to build value through clinical outcomes.

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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