When one thinks of brick and mortar places that involve the exchange of goods and services, most do not think of doctors’ offices. As I have been visiting multiple doctors’ offices at the start of this New Year, I have decided to use my experience in these environments as an atmospherics/consumer behavior example. In this blog post, I will describe how atmospherics can improve the overall satisfaction of an unlikely consumer, a patient.
Sight. Out of a person’s five senses, the first one typically used by the body to study a new, external environment is sight. Doctors’ offices decorated with warm, homely colors instantly make me feel more comfortable, as I (and probably many others) associate medical vicinities with cold, metallic, and shiny surfaces.
Smell. Smell is most likely the next sense that directly affects my association with a particular environment. When I imagine a doctor’s office, the first smell I think of is rubbing alcohol or other harsh, sanitary smells. To me, these smells are connected to unpleasant memories, such as visiting the hospital, getting shots or having my blood removed. If a doctor’s office had fresh flowers on the reception desk or fragrant candles burning in the waiting area, my body would relax much faster than without.
Sound. Once I receive my medical paperwork from the receptionist, I sit down in the waiting area. What kinds of things do I normally hear? Receptionists talking too loudly to one another about office gossip, doctors’ murmurs emitting from patient rooms, or other patients speaking on their cell phones. What if the sounds I heard included classical music, running water from a fountain, or birds lightly chirping outside a window? Silent waiting rooms are death traps for the consumer experience as our nerves heighten while waiting for our name to be called next. It is especially important for medical professionals to have delicate, pleasant sounds in waiting areas of their offices.
Taste. Taste is a tricky atmospheric element in a doctor’s office simply because most times, a person does not need to taste anything to be seen by a physician. However, there are easy and enjoyable tastes a medical professional can offer in his or her workplace. For example as an avid coffee drinker, when I see a Keurig in a waiting area, I immediately go over and make myself a cup of coffee. Not only does it help the waiting time go by, but it also physically warms me up and lessens my anxiety. Doctors can also offer tea, water, and small snacks to improve the patient waiting experience to non-coffee drinkers.
Touch. Lastly, what consumer likes to sit in an uncomfortable chair? The answer is no consumer. While medical offices need to have furniture that can be kept clean of germs or diseases, it is also imperative to remember that comfortable furniture can make all the difference in a patient experience. Touch, while being the backburner of atmospherics in a doctor’s office, is the subtle element of comfort and overall trust to a patient.
*Note: Atmospherics involves the controllable characteristics of a retail space that entice a customer to enter the store, and which are designed to influence a customer’s mood so as to increase the odds of a purchase being made. Atmospherics include the store’s layout, noise level, temperature, lighting and decorations. A full definition can be found from Investopedia here.
Check out my blog next week for more tips on how to use marketing for good and improve the overall consumer experience!