The Words We Use

I recently took a short vacation in San Francisco.  Needing some things, I visited a neighborhood Walgreens.  Upon checkout, the friendly clerk, Chris, said, "Your investment today is $31.43."  My response was "WOW" and I shook Chris' hand.  Was the use of the word "investment" her idea or some corporate policy of Walgreens, I asked.  Chris smiled and said it was just her idea.  I left a raving fan of Walgreens.  Note that this was a simple transaction turned into a very positive experience by the use of a single word.

Several years ago, our firm performed a mystery shop by telephone of several non-client practices in a specific market.  "Hi, my name is John and I'm a contact lens wearer who just moved to the area," was our mystery shopper's opening line.  "I noticed Dr. Smith's advertisement in the yellow pages.  Please tell me, what makes Dr. Smith special?"  The response was truly memorabl.  "Nothing," said the receptionist, "he's no different than anyone else."  I've used this example of disastrous first impressions a hundred times over the past few years.  Note that this was a simple question turned into a very negative experience by the use of a couple of words.

Many years ago, I read about a study performed by a group of retailers.  They compared the impact of two different questions asked of customers to their stores.  The first was the classic "may I help you?"  The second was "have you been with us before?"  These questions both solicit yes/no responses.  However, it was the follow-on which was so important.  With the "may I help you" question, the follow-on is logical and standard.  But with the second question, the follow-on was carefully orchestrated:

Clerk:  "Good morning.  Have you been with us before?"

Customer:  "Yes/No"

Clerk:  "Please allow me to explain our special offer for returning/new customers."

This study showed a fifteen percent increase in the business with the use of the "have you been with us before" question.  That's significant.

So, how much business are you losing because you and your team aren't using the right words?  Do you know what your team are asking/telling patients and prospective patients?  

Work on your scripts.  One simple word change can move the dialogue from routine to memorable; from negative or neutral to a WOW.  One simple change can have a dramatic impact on revenue and profits.

Good luck! 

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