Sticks and stones may break my bones but two words — thank you — will not hurt you but will certainly help you.
We, myself included, are often so busy and always in a hurry rushing from one task to another that we often forget common courtesies. I believe that we can accomplish so much more with our patients, our staff, and even in our personal lives by not forgetting to make good use of those magic words, thank you.
Relationships with our patients and our staff are the cornerstone of a successful practice. Common wisdom dictates sending referring physicians a note regarding the patient they sent you as a way of communicating your opinion. It is also common to send a gift at holiday time to colleagues and friends who have been helpful to you and your practice throughout the year. I believe it is important to express your appreciation not just in the month of December but all year round.
Here are a few suggestions based on a few principles that allow you to say thank you to your patients, your staff, colleagues, family and friends all the time so that your appreciation is noted and that you don’t take for granted how nice others have been to you and your practice.
Thank yous are most appreciated when they are least expected. We have a policy in our office that when a pharmaceutical company or a vendor brings the doctors and the staff a lunch that everyone in the office who had the lunch sends a thank you note to the sponsor of the luncheon. I have heard on multiple occasions that our office is the only office that acknowledges the lunch and that the representatives from pharma are so impressed that our staff is so thankful for the meal.
Thank patients who take the time to complain. It is not easy for a patient to register a complaint with a doctor. If the practice receives such a complaint, it is imperative to follow up and let the patient know that action has been taken to resolve the problem. This also applies to your online reputation and physician grading sites on the Internet. If a negative comment appears on a grading site, acknowledge the complaint and without using the comments name or anything that could identify the patient let them know that you appreciate their comment and that you are taking action so that it doesn’t happen again. Remember that patients who complain and feel that you recognize their problem and try to correct it often become your most loyal patients and greatest promoters.
I think that a thank you that is handwritten is more meaningful than via email. Recipients of your thank you note recognize that it takes a little extra effort to write a note and mail it than to send it via email. I use a thanks a million check to write my thanks to a patient, an employee, or friend. I have gone to their desks or their offices and note the recipient will often tape my thank you note prominently as a lasting reminder of my graciousness.
It takes only a minute or two to say thank you. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to acknowledge those who have been helpful and nice to you. It will make their day. And yours as well.
Neil Baum is a urologist and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practices: Ethically, Effectively, Economically. He can be reached at his self-titled site, Neil Baum, MD, or on Facebook and Twitter.
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