We are looking at revamping our website and have taken on a new web design agency.

It is quite a big investment and we interviewed a few before making a decision.

Now that we have chosen a company, we are talking to them about some ideas and they have been a little less responsive and enthusiastic than they were before.

I don’t think they realise what a dangerous time this is.

Just after anyone makes a major purchase, there is always a tendency towards ‘buyers remorse’.

If there is even the slightest hiccup, you will have a feeling that perhaps you have made the wrong decision and you should have gone with one of the other providers you were considering.

It is important to acknowledge this and compensate for it by over-delivering in the immediate period after purchase.

A few years ago, a patient cancelled her surgery a couple of weeks before surgery.   She had booked the surgery a few months in advance but had not heard anything from the hospital until a few weeks before the procedure.  She then came from a pre-admission appointment and booked an appointment to see me in my clinic after the pre-admission visit.

I was operating that day and my list overran, so I started my clinic 20 minutes late.  The lady’s pre-admission appointment had been a few hours earlier in the morning and so she had been hanging about for a while.  The receptionist phoned me on my mobile phone to see where I was when I didn’t start the clinic on time.

The call went through to my voicemail (because I was in theatre) and the receptionist told the patient that I wasn’t in the hospital.

The patient was angry and left without seeing me. She then went on to cancel the whole procedure (a breast reduction) and posted a zero star review on a popular forum.

I could be the greatest surgeon in the world, but it doesn’t matter, because as far as this patient was concerned, she had lost confidence and didn’t want to have surgery with me.

I now realise that she was expressing ‘buyer’s remorse’ and I understand how she must have felt.

Having surgery or a medical procedure is a major undertaking and there is a wealth of options for patients to choose from when making a decision as to who they want their doctor to be.

You have to be aware that, no matter how good you think you are, from a patient’s point of view, there are a number of other suitable doctors out there that they could have chosen.

If you are lucky enough to have a patient choose you for their procedure, then you should be aware of the risk of ‘buyer’s remorse’ and acknowledge that the patient may be wondering if they have made the right decision.

This is the time to overdeliver and make sure that you leave no doubt in the patient’s mind that they have made the right decision.

Don’t rely on the hospital to send out comprehensive and timely information about the patient’s forthcoming admission.  In my experience, the hospital only contact the patient a week or two before their admission, even if you put the booking form in months in advance.

This is an area that needs systems on your part to ensure that there is a consistent process to deliver prompt and relevant information as soon as the booking is made.

A simple letter or email can be sent out thanking the patient for booking and outlining what will happen next.

If the hospital organises the admission, then you can let the patient know this and give them the direct contact details for the admissions office in case they don’t hear anything or if they have any special requirements.

Maybe a phone call from your secretary to say that you appreciate them and you are there if they need you.

Perhaps you could send something out in the post. A guide to surgery or a personalised note.

It is just about keeping in touch and letting your patients know that you are there for them.

Patients fear that once we have their money, we won’t be interested in them anymore.

We need to make sure that this fear isn’t allowed to fester and grow.

Nip it in the bud and let them know that you are one of the good guys!

Be aware of it and put processes in place to make sure that your patients don’t suffer from buyer’s remorse!


If you are interested in building a better private practice, particularly by using systems and processes to ensure that you can consistently deliver a great service, join me at my next Private Practice Growth Meeting.

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