What Physicians Must Consider Before Going Concierge

August 15, 2013

Considering concierge medicine? Make sure your customer service is on point first.

Many of my clients have very particular opinions for or against transforming their practice to a concierge model and whether or not you should too. It’s no surprise. According to Physicians Practice’s most recent Great American Physician Survey, Sponsored by Kareo, 31 percent of nearly 1,200 physicians surveyed said they are considering or have considered switching to a concierge-style practice model, whereupon patients pay an annual fee for premium care.

Customer service is key to any practice’s success, but I want you to pay especially close attention if you are considering making the switch to a model where you are charging patients a premium price for your services. The simple fact is, if you expect patients to pay a premium, patients expect stellar service in exchange for that premium price.

As I pointed out to a few clients on our weekly group call, when your competition is just a click away, customer service is your competitive edge: It is the new marketing.

The difficult thing about service is that it can be hard to quantify. In fact, often times when service is bad enough, patients just don't return. 

"But our patients complain when something is wrong!"

Do they?

Did you know that for every one vocal complainer, an average of 26 people who feel they were treated poorly just silently leave your practice without a trace?

You could have a service problem and be completely unaware of it, and if you happen to be working up to announcing a transition to a concierge model, you could be wagering your current patients and your income on your service.

Consumer Reports research says that 91 percent of consumers will not do business with you a second time if you mess up their first encounter with you. What's more, 70 percent of consumers immediately abandon a business if they receive poor service over the phone.

What's the good news? If your service is on point, the statistics are in your favor. More than half of patients are willing to change providers in order to have a better experience. For those of you considering concierge models, 90 percent of people are willing to pay a premium for excellent service. 

Perhaps even more important, patients who sue after an error by their provider caused them harm often cite "poor service" and state that they were "rushed, ignored, or poorly diagnosed."

What is your plan? Have you trained your staff to function as a well-oiled, heart-centered, authentic, patient-loving machine?

Before you make the move to the concierge model, and even if you don't, make sure you and your staff are providing an excellent experience for your most important asset: your patients.