A Sense of Place

Whether you call it a first impression or a wow factor, it’s the feeling that people get when they first arrive.  And from there, having a consistent “look and feel” — what experience design professionals call a theme — can help you achieve the holy trinity in terms of customer experience. 

This would be the ability to command the attention, time, and money of your customer.

Designing a place so that it enhances the overall experience is something to be taken seriously and can have a lasting impact on overall reputation. An illustration of this can be seen in the contrast between two modern sports stadiums, AT&T Stadium (Dallas, TX) and Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA). Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones understood the power of a great customer experience when designing his new stadium.

While the stadium costs approximately $900 million, he spent an additional $300 million on finishing touches that were directly related to a better fan experience. A similar amount was spent by San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York on Levi’s Stadium, which opened in 2014. Let’s call it $1.2 billion for each venue. While the stadiums cost the same, the experience in them is worlds apart. 

Once you enter AT&T, you feel like “you’ve arrived” as from the concourse you can peer down to the field and take in the entire stadium including its retractable roof. At Levi’s, your first experience inside the gate is a sea of humanity scurrying in multiple directions. It’s chaotic and the open-air stadium is oriented so that the afternoon sun pounds on the 30,000 or so fans who are on the visitor side. It’s so bad that the NFL has stopped scheduling 1 p.m. start times early in the 49ers season. Even down to the restrooms, AT&T has Levi’s beat in terms of making the experience better for fans.  

What this means for doctors is simple.  Your practice is your place, and how you design what happens within those four walls is largely under your control.  And while you may not have the time or budget to move walls, you should invest in making your physical environment as ________ as it can be. I leave the descriptor blank because you get to choose what impression(s) you want to make. Modern, clean, high-tech, comforting, cool, dazzling, efficient — this is just a handful of what you can consider in how you want patients to view your practice when they first walk in and throughout the experience.  

Whatever your budget, think like Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and allocate part of your investment directly to those touches that will make your patients feel welcomed, special, and valued. It will pay dividends as you earn their trust and confidence not only in your clinical skill but in your customer sensibility. 

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