Most businesses fail to create memorable experiences for their customers to share with others. One easy acronym will help ensure your practice doesn’t make the same mistake.
WHAT MAKES AN experience remarkable—literally, worthy of remark? After all, that’s what word-of-mouth marketing is, and how dental offices gain referrals.
How does a practice uncover experience opportunities across a vast array of communication channels and patient touchpoints? The key is to produce some measurable “experience wins” that leave your patients happy and wanting to tell others about them.
“Achieving customer-experience ‘perfection’ is not an attainable goal—at least not in today’s environment,” according to marketing research company eMarketer. “Companies … should focus on some of the easier-to-execute aspects of customer experience, like establishing core values, identifying the most commonly used [communication] channels and improving their email efforts.”
In other words, the patient experience is a journey, not a destination. As such, I’ve developed a proprietary methodology for identifying and creating remarkable experiences. Its four components aptly form the acronym WISE—because when you execute them, you’ll become “wise” to the patient experience. The letters stand for Witty, Immersive, Shareable and Extraordinary.
“Witty” doesn’t mean funny. What I find funny you might find offensive, or vice-versa. A small number of brands—Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Old Spice and Charmin come to mind—can get away with humor as a defining aspect of their image. More than likely, though, this isn’t what your patients are expecting from their dentist.
Witty, instead, is more akin to being clever. Look at every piece of communication you produce and try to figure out how you can change the phrasing to be a little more clever and put a smile on someone’s face. So much of patient communication—marketing, scheduling, statements, reminders—is boring. It doesn’t have to be. It’s OK to have some fun with your patients and show a little practice personality.
Signage, whether physical or digital, can also play a large role in brand perception, yet many practices don’t give it much thought. A simple tweak can result in an entirely new message that’s unique and memorable.
“Immersive” means looking at the entire patient journey and ensuring that it makes sense as a whole. The full experience should be one smooth ride, from the first time patients visit your website to the moment they leave your office after an appointment.
Think of “Shareable” as sparking the desire to tell someone else about the experience. Often we accomplish this via social media, but it can also mean telling people in person, on the phone or via email. “Nothing is more personal than a friend recommending something to you,” observes messaging platform Podium. “This is one of the best marketing strategies.”
According to Impact, a marketing consultancy, 75 percent of consumers do not believe brand advertising, but 92 percent put their faith in brand recommendations from a friend. What’s more, word-of-mouth marketing generates twice the sales of paid ads. Yet most companies spend far more on paid advertising than on customer experience.
“Extraordinary” simply means “better than ordinary.” Most patient experiences are ordinary, which is why people don’t share them. The good news is that the patient-experience bar is set exceedingly low. You must clear it only by a bit to be better than ordinary.
Not every experience needs all four components of WISE; in fact, it’s difficult to achieve all four in a single experience. That said, the more such elements in a given experience, the more remarkable it will become. Even a single component will separate it from the many average consumer experiences on offer elsewhere.
“The modern customer doesn’t reward passable experiences— they want to be dazzled every time they interact with the brand,” according to Brandwatch. “When it comes down to it, we’re all in the business of wooing our customers with a stellar experience.”
DAN GINGISS is a customer-experience keynote speaker and coach. He is the author of The Experience Maker: How to Create Remarkable Experiences That Your Customers Can’t Wait to Share, available for preorder at major book retailers.