11 Jul 2014  •  Practice Management  •  3min read By  • Emma Sillars

Strawberry Cake and the Halo Effect

From her experience of visiting hundreds of practices all over the UK, Regional Support Manager Emma Sillars discusses why first impressions really do count and how you can polish up on yours!

A recent study revealed that if a cake has strawberries on the top, we estimate that it has 16% less calories than the same cake without the strawberries! Seems barmy, but this is because we perceive strawberries as healthy, and attribute this quality to the cake by association.

Much like this scenario, a number of studies have also shown that at trials involving a jury, attractive criminals are more likely to receive a lower sentence or escape conviction than unattractive ones.

Psychologists call this the ‘halo effect’. This is where people make intuitive judgments about things based on just one or two aspects of their experience. Halo effects happen where people have incomplete information about a situation or person, and they will use one prominent trait to make assumptions.

So, how can this work in your favour?

Well, the obvious point to note is that small things can make a big difference. So, for example, take a look at the outside of your practice and make sure that there are no bits of litter or weeds, that any signs and banners look smart and well-presented, and that everything looks clean and tidy. This is the first impression that patients will get when they visit your practice, so an attractive exterior is the key to creating a ‘positive halo’ for the rest of your practice.

Have a look at the reception area. Does the practice look (and, just as importantly, smell) nice? Is every patient greeted with a smile? What does the music playing say about your practice? Is the waiting room tidy? Is your waiting room the right temperature – not too hot, not too cold? Use your five senses to analyse the patient’s surroundings.

What about the process when your patients arrive? The way that the patient is treated by the receptionist will influence the halo effect for the rest of the staff and the practice, either positively or negatively. A poor experience at this first point of contact can make the patient unhappy/angry/resistant, etc. which will affect their attitude during their appointment. If they are already in a negative frame of mind, they are going to be less responsive to the advice that they are given during their appointment.

Why not get started on polishing your halo today?!

Looking to improve your patient journey? Want to learn some of the best marketing and customer service skills around? Take a look at our Resource Library for some ideas on getting started!


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