This post was contributed by
Linda Adler, Pathfinders Medical,
a mentor for those who are building an advocacy practice.
I recently spent a weekend visiting my old college campus. I was eager to return to the city I had adored in my youth, the place that had such a deep impact on my adulthood. But I wasn’t sure where to stay, given that the city had grown dramatically, and there were so many unfamiliar options in areas that didn’t even exist in my day. So I went with what I knew, an historic hotel in the heart of the old downtown, close to my first apartment. I made sure to keep my expectations low, given the age of the building, and I figured I’d trade charm and convenience for the newer, more upscale options.
Upon arrival, we were surprised to find ourselves in a suite, complete with an enormous, well-appointed living room. A couple of hours later, hungry from the trip, we entered the hotel dining room, and were delighted to see a newly refurbished sitting area and a reworked menu that featured local fish and healthy vegetables: score! Each day thereafter, there was some little detail that delighted us, and reminded me that I had picked a great location for our stay. When it was time to head back to the airport, I was actually sad to leave our hotel: it had been a perfect getaway.
What does this have to do with your advocacy business? It’s a reminder that going above and beyond is a critical feature of a successful business. We can delight our clients as well, although in different and healthier ways. Our opportunity lies in providing thoughtful, caring, excellent service that goes above and beyond the basics. The advocate who creates a business that delivers services well beyond expectations is the advocate who will have greater potential for success. A delighted client is a loyal one. The key is to provide services your clients might not have even know they wanted or needed, and certainly didn’t expect. Even when we are dealing with difficult circumstances and challenging diagnoses, people appreciate the service provider who takes the time to go the extra mile. And there is nothing wrong with showing our clients how much we care, what we can deliver, and why our business is better than someone else’s. To that end, here are a few suggestions that I’ve tried, and you might want to do so as well. Some might work upon an initial visit, others when your client is established:
- Offer parking coupons or meal tickets for use at upcoming clinic appointments or hospital visits. Many health care campuses provide these for their “frequent flyers”, so you just need to ask for them.
- Bring along a small, healthy snack to share at appointments: perhaps some tea bags, or dark chocolate
- Send a thank you note via snail mail after your first meeting, and enclose a small pen and paper that can be used for note-taking at an upcoming appointment
- Offer a bonus service on top of what you’re contracted for; perhaps a free 15 minute phone consultation to “check in”
- Donate 10% of a client’s payment in their name and let them know you did so
The point is to demonstrate to your client that you are dedicated to them, to their care, and to healthy habits and causes. And there’s a nice bonus for you: going the extra mile will leave you feeling better about, and more satisfied with your business.