January 22, 2019
I find that the start of a new year is a good time to review a few essential tools and processes, to ensure they are up to date and make your practice shine. One of the most important is the fee quote.
We review about a hundred aesthetic fee quotes every year, and let me just say that I am quite often astounded at how terrible they look and read. Spelling and grammar errors. Bad photocopies. Poorly constructed sentences.
What your quote looks like, how it reads, and how your word choices are perceived by the patient all matter. In fact I believe the fee quote is the most impactful marketing piece you have.
Data show that it’s the last impression that people remember more than the first. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman says that what people remember about the pleasurable quality of a past experience is almost entirely determined by two things:
1. How the experience felt when it was at its peak (best or worst), and
2. How the experience felt when it ended.
This “peak-end” rule of Kahneman’s is what we use to summarize the experience in our minds.1
So, a bad experience with your fee quote can “cancel out” the great experience the patient had when she or he enjoyed refreshments in the reception room or was offered a complimentary facial after purchasing a laser package.
Take a look at your fee quote to be sure it puts your best face forward.
1. Make it computer-generated.
Lose the handwritten form; it looks messy and dated. Use your PM system to design and print clean, clear quotes on your letterhead.
2. Customize style and design.
If you aren’t sure how to do this in your software, contact the vendor. For example, can you add the practice’s logo to the top of the quote? Can you customize font sizes and styles? Creating a nice design in the fee quote template will improve the professionalism of the document and the patient’s experience.
3. Use spell check.
“Surgerical,” “blephoraplasty,” and “depost.” We have discovered all of these errors in client fee quote reviews. It doesn’t support the image of clinical quality a surgeon strives for.
The team doesn’t have to be A+ spellers. But they do need to know how to use the spell check feature in Word or you PM system. Make sure they do, and that they use it.
4. Assign two or three proofreaders.
Although spell check is a great tool, it doesn’t catch everything. Proofreading will identify typos as well as copy and syntax errors that spell check does not. Here are two client examples that illustrate this point:
Dr. Smart will be honored for three months from today’s date.
Dr. Smart will honor this quote for three months from today’s date.
All fees are due on you pre-op day.
All fees are due on your pre-op day.
Assign two or three people to review the fee quote copy. The physician should do a final review and sign-off.
5. Cut out the ALL CAPS.
Few things make you appear more old school or petty than using all caps to convey an important point. Again we have plucked these from real client materials:
• “SIGN HERE TO INDICATE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND SURGICAL DEPOSITS AND DR. AMAZING’S FEES ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.”
• “PAY TWO WEEKS BEFORE SURGERY-or your surgery will be cancelled!”
These sentences scream, “HEY, THIS INFORMATION IS REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT! YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO UNDERSTAND THAT SO WE HAVE TO PUT IT IN ALL CAPS.
This tactic can undo all the hard work you and your staff put into building a relationship and creating a five-star experience. SO STOP USING IT.
6. Use plain language.
“I understand my financial obligations set forth herein” and “Per the Financial Responsibility Statement, I hereby agree …” are overly formal and clunky.
How about just saying what you mean: “I understand and agree to the financial obligations outlined above.” Plain language like this is clear to everyone, which minimizes the chance of patient misunderstandings.
7. Don’t look cheap.
Fee quote states: Patients who receive a partial refund for surgery payments or any payment made by credit card will be assessed a 2.75% processing fee prior to the refund.
Patient thinks: The office is upscale but if I’m due a refund I will be charged for it? Time to look for another surgeon.
No high end retail or service establishments have a policy like this and your practice shouldn’t either.
8. Make sure all information is accurate.
In one practice we visited, every fee quote for abdominoplasty included a 2-night hospital stay – which was true 18 years ago when the software was implemented, but hadn’t been for the last ten. The Patient Care Coordinator crossed this information out on each printed fee quote, which was inefficient and unprofessional. Look for outdated information and update it in the quote template.
9. Customize by procedure.
If the facelift quote mentions the requirement of a pre-op mammogram or the patient is told to obtain pathology specimens for a breast augmentation, your practice looks asleep at the wheel.
Aesthetic PM systems have features to customize fee quotes by procedure type. Use them.
10. Be clear about re-do’s and revisions.
Revisions happen. Be prepared for them by clarifying your policy, in plain language. For example:
“Surgical revisions are sometimes appropriate and may be performed by Dr. Bee at a reduced professional fee. However, operating room costs and anesthesia fees are your responsibility.”