Monday Morning Motivation | Relying on Surrogates

Posted by Bill Esteb on Dec 21st 2019

When we buy something intangible, such as chiropractic care, hair styling or brain surgery, we can't judge its quality until we've received it. Because there is simultaneous production and consumption.

So we rely on proxies or surrogates that we encounter leading up to the service to help us decide how "good" the service is going to be.

It's not a perfect system, but often accurate enough. Here are some of the ways new patients determine how good you are before even meeting you:

  • The Google ranking of your website.
  • The quality of the photography on your website.
  • Your practice location.
  • Your reviews on Yelp.
  • Your social media profile.
  • The way your phone is answered.
  • The cleanliness of the parking lot.
  • The first impression walking in the door.
  • The greeting at the front desk.
  • The quality of your paperwork.

Because how you do anything is pretty much how you do everything.

This has profound implications. To the least discerning, many of the smallest details may go unnoticed. But sloppiness in cleanliness, procedure, language, expectation management and punctuality are what most negative online reviews center around.

They require the discipline of holding oneself to a higher standard.

Imagine walking into a dental practice for an expensive cosmetic procedure only to see worn carpet and scuff marks on the furniture in front of the receptionist.

Imagine consulting an interior design studio that is cluttered with carpet samples, fabric swatches, dusty shelves and the chaos of dozens of Post-it notes.

Imagine showing up for your dinner reservations only to find the parking lot empty, the “Open” sign flickering and no one at the hostess station.

During the natural lull this time of year it might make sense for you and your team to go on a field trip. To your practice! Assemble out in the parking lot and make a list of the tiniest details that could misrepresent the care and attention to detail you’d want every new patient to perceive. Prioritize your list, assign responsibilities and get into action.

With the New Year just around the corner, now is the perfect time to set new, higher standards for you and your team. Upgrading the patient experience is a great place to start.


Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 chiropractors each week.