Imagine for a moment that you come home after a long day and decide that you are too tired to cook.
You look around the kitchen, crack the fridge, and finding nothing easy to eat.
After some thought you decide to go out. You have heard about a new restaurant that happens to be close so you give it a shot.
From the outside it looks nice, you enter and are greeted very pleasantly and are asked to pay their “standard fee” upfront. You think this is strange, but oh well, you are tired, so you pay.
You are given a number, shown a seat in the restaurant lobby, and asked to wait until your table is ready.
While waiting you are asked to complete a quick questionnaire about yourself.
The questionnaire includes basic demographic information and several questions measuring your level of hunger.
You again think this is strange, but oh well, you are here, others seem to be doing it, you are tired and just want to eat.
After 15 minutes you are escorted to your table where a waiter comes over and explains that he has examined your questionnaire and from his assessment it turns out that on the hunger scale you rate an 8 out of 10, well into the severe hunger range!
He explains that based on your age, gender, family history, medical background, and hunger assessment that research indicates that the average person in your demographic category, with the same level of hunger, finds a hamburger to best solve their hunger issues.
You find his comments very peculiar and mention that you don’t really want a hamburger, to which the waiter replies, “We specialize in hunger satisfaction and our assessment indicated that a hamburger is best for you, I will bring it out, you will try it and we will assess you again next week when you return.”
What are the odds that you would return to this restaurant next week?
What would you say to others about this restaurant?
The take home message for therapists is that clients, like restaurant customers, want a good experience and as many choices as possible.
Clients may be coming in to better their lives in the same way that people who are hungry are hoping to eat but focusing on the problem only is not what most clients want.
Clients want to feel good about the experience, feel respected, have choices, and enjoy the process as much as possible.
Therapists who attend to the personal needs of their clients and who collaboratively choose clinical approaches and tailor those clinical approaches to client tastes have much higher client return rates than those who do not.
It is a simple matter of offering customer service.
Check back for the next post which will cover 5 things you can do to improve your client return rate.