The aesthetic consult is among the first and most pivotal steps to securing new business in the cosmetic practice. It can make or break a successful doctor-patient relationship, so taking proven steps to enhance the consult can boost a practice’s bottom line.
Lori Robertson MSN, FNP-C, who owns a medical aesthetics practice in Brea and San Dimas, Calif., presented on the successful cosmetic consultation during the May 2017 Aesthetics and Medical Dermatology symposia in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
She tells Dermatology Times that the key to a successful consult and patient experience outcome is to immediately start a relationship with the patient — during the consultation.
“As a practitioner, it is imperative to listen intently to patients’ concerns and address those perceived issues,” Ms. Robertson says. “We need to remember that we are there to help them achieve their goals.”
It’s important to understand that even people wanting elective procedures come to the consult with apprehension, anxiety skepticism and fear of the unknown, according to Ms. Robertson.
“We need to put ourselves into the patient’s shoes — to educate and sell from their perspective,” she says.
To do that, ask open-ended questions, using the terms how, when, what and why in the conversation, to better understand a patient’s desires, concerns, interests, issues and more. The goal is to ask quality questions to get quality answers. That requires listening, which means staying silent for 20 to 30 seconds as the person talks, according to Robertson.
“Something I do early on in the consult is to tell the patient that I am a practitioner who has experience with all of the procedures we offer, but I am not a salesperson. I literally watch the barriers drop,” Ms. Robertson says. “I feel my job is to educate them and share my knowledge, which allows them to make a decision to do or not to do a procedure.”
During a consult, providers need to be honest, concerned and care, according to Robertson.
Having those qualities will most likely result in trust building, which is key to a successful consult.
“Patients are smarter than you may think,” she says. “They know when you are not being honest; when you are making your shopping list while they are talking; and, worse yet, not listening to their concerns but focusing on what you think they need.”
There’s no room in a successful consult for a hard sell or for a desperate attempt to sell. Those are a turnoff for consumers and can create mistrust of provider’s and practice’s clinical mission and values, she says.
The bottom line: Providers should embrace the consult and take every opportunity to win a new patient.
“It takes only seconds for someone to make an opinion of both you and your clinic...,” she says.
That includes everything the patient sees, hears and feels before, during and after the consult. Consider such things as the way staff greets potential and current patients; how the staff members dress and carry themselves; the music, refreshments and lobby pamphlets/reading material provided. These are all things that create a practice’s brand, according to Robertson.
“Impress them early on. Exceed their expectations. People will stay with you for the experience, even if it costs more. That experience includes trust, honest care and concern for the patient,” she says.