Right about now you might be wondering exactly how the "Spanish Inquisition" catchphrase could possibly harbor a lesson for doctor marketing. The answer is surprisingly simple and it's a useful way to define, create and deliver an exceptional patient experience.
To be clear, we're not talking about a patient's medical care or the provider's skills, credentials and experience. For most people, a positive patient experience is&mdashin addition to the clinical care they received—the sum of how they feel they were treated.
As quick background about the humorous catchphrase; it originated in parody sketches in Monty Python's Flying Circus in 1970. Over the following 40 years, it has popped up often in popular culture and media, including comic books, television programs and video games.
If you've seen any of these, the comedy premise of--"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition" --is always a matter of surprise. In fact, the catchphrase is the launch of an unexpected, unrelated and entertaining sketch. The chief weapon of the Spanish Inquisition-at least according to these delightful parodies-is surprise.
The doctor-marketing lesson here is that a positive patient experience contains an element of surprise and delight. The test for the exceptional elements of a patient-centric office is those things that unexpectedly exceed expectations. "Business as usual" is unremarkable and nobody thinks twice about the "ordinary." But a truly memorable experience includes something pleasantly shocking, and leaves a positive impression with the patient.
The cost for ideas like these—the touches that surprise and delight&mdashis little or nothing. But the payback is enormous in providing an exceptional, and memorable, patient experience. Patients are bonded to the practice, wouldn't think of going elsewhere, and they frequently make referrals to the practice.
Consider this same lesson from Walt Disney when his accountants wanted to do away with the Christmas Parade at Disneyland. "The people are already at the park," the bean counters argued, "and no one will complain if we dispense with the parade. After all, nobody's expecting it."
Walt Disney replied: "That's just the point. We should do the parade because no one's expecting it. As long as we keep surprising them, they'll keep coming back. But if they ever stop coming, it'll cost us ten times that much to get them to come back."
Use Disney's wisdom, or the "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition" catchphrase as a reminder to make the patient experience a surprise and a delight.