Despite oral health being a critical component to our overall health, something like 75% of Americans experience a level of dental anxiety. As a dentist myself, I understand that the sounds and the sensory experiences of a dental visit can sometimes intimidate.
Three quarters of the potential customer base we can market to are prone to anxieties that could keep them from coming in the first place. It’s a challenge practitioners in the industry need to seriously consider, and it’s one that other industries should consider as well.
At Floss Dental Boutique, we recently completed a sweeping renovation of our office at 347 Marsh Ave. You might recognize the property. Today it sports a bright new exterior. Even brighter is the interior, boasting a warm and inviting fireplace in the entry, exposed brick walls stamped with “Reno” from the former brick manufacturer Reno Press Brick, and steel beams to support the property after taking out multiple walls. The renovation allowed us to transform our space from a clinical, walled-off environment to a boutique, spa-like one. I want every patient to walk in the door and immediately feel at home, relaxed and lacking inhibition.
When patients express they’re comfortable, it’s validating, but it also mirrors research. A study done in the U.S. just shy of the pandemic and reported on by Healthcare Design Magazine found the interior and exterior of a medical facility can actually affect patients’ mentality.
“The facility exterior and exam room are a powerful pairing and together have a large impact on the outpatient experience.” According to the study, if the exterior and exam room design were both highly rated, an outpatient consumer would be more likely to:
• Know what actions to take about their health
• Feel in control of their health
• Understand how to prevent problems with their health
• Feel a sense of purpose
• Feel more optimistic about their future, among other important outcomes.”
Regardless of whether your company is offering medical or professional services, thinking through what can be incorporated to improve patient or customer mentality can generate return on investment.
It’s All For the Gram. An estimated seven out of 10 Americans are on social media, and they’re both influencing purchasing decisions and being influenced to purchase. Aesthetically pleasing brick-and-mortars are more likely to encourage them to snap and post a picture to their respective followers. Evaluate the daily opportunities you have that could be visually captured by patrons, customers. Are they photo ready? Are you sending things home with customers that could be integrated into their content?
At Floss, we brand our take-home bags from recyclable, brown bags. They simultaneously reiterate the intentional decisions we’ve made with all aspects of the practice, but they’re also photo-ready. It’s a branding opportunity we don’t want to miss.
Reduce Clutter, Improve Clarity, Moods and Customer Service. An article from the Mayo Clinic focused on research that found those with fewer items in their homes and common places had lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Certainly, clutter can be off putting for customers or patrons, but it can also contribute to added stress for your team. I prefer my team focused on ensuring every aspect of a patient’s visit. Beyond the visuals that customers may not appreciate, chaotic desks and drawers, cluttered stock rooms and confusion in filing and system processes can take employees’ focus from the patient or customer service.
Perception is Reality. It is up to you to come through with high levels of service for patrons and customers, but before they can experience it for themselves, an improved aesthetic speaks to this level of quality. Visually appealing spaces communicate specific care has been taken with even mundane aspects of the business and influence a purchasing decision accordingly.
It’s important to consider all aspects of your customers’ experience. What is it they’re seeing, what are they smelling? What might they taste or touch in their interaction? What could your existing set up be communicating to potential and existing customers and how can you reimagine the experience so it puts them in the calmest, most relaxed state of mind?
Customers have been through a harrowing few years, and those businesses that seek to reduce stress in the ways they can will be rewarded for their considerations.
NCET is a member-supported nonprofit organization that produces educational and networking events to help people explore business and technology. For information, go to www.NCET.org.
Dr. Summer Holloway is the owner of Floss Dental Boutique.