Give your clients a face to hang their hopes on

Sitting in my doctor's clinic, I often watch the other patients. They sit quietly but many show signs of anxiety: they fidget in their chairs, look around the room at nothing at all, and give the once-over to people who walk into the waiting room as they arrive or after they have seen the doc.

I can only use my own experience being a new patient as my guide but this is what I believe: Part of the anxiety those new patients feel has to do with not knowing who is going to treat them for whatever condition that ails them. Simple, really. Who the heck is this stranger who's going to poke and prod me and probably cause me pain before I can get a prescription for a miracle drug that will cure me and make me feel like a new person?

That stranger, in my case, turned out to be my Primary Care Physician and has become a good personal friend, Dr John Richmond, who was the 2007 Family Physician of the Year, awarded by Texas Academy of Family Physicians. 

Honestly, I got lucky. Some docs (God love 'em all!) just don't have much bedside manner, particularly in a clinic situation where they often see more patients in a day than might seem humanly possible. To his credit, Dr John works with me as a senior "team member" to help me through my occasional malady.

But let's get back to that new patient. The anxiety he or she is feeling could be softened a bit by giving them a wall full of photographs of smiling faces and short quotes of something personal and empathetic. Credentials? Fuggeddaboudit! What that patient is wanting is reassurance that everything is going to be okay. If they want credentials, too, they can ask for them. And they probably will.

Here's the bottom line: Regardless of the type of business you're in, give your patients/clients/customers a face that reassures them that the world and their place in it is going to be just fine. It'll pay dividends. I promise.

— Lawrences Standifer Stevens