What are you clients expectations?
Before you can answer this question we need to take a moment to consider where they are at and what they are going through.
Clients often seek treatment because they have a distressing and/ or an uncomfortable symptom. Part of the distress of the symptom in many cases ties back to fear. Fear of not knowing what’s going on or fear that the condition may be permanent or get worse. Assisting our clients in managing and hopefully alleviating this fear I believe is the first step in managing client expectations. Because if the fear is ongoing quite often our clients will make irrational decisions, have poor compliance or adherence to advice, seek too many different treatment options, engage Dr Google and potentially leave treatment before what you do has been given the appropriate time to get the results they desire.
How do we manage our clients fear?
- Identify the problem
Managing client expectations is always problematic when they don’t know what is going on. Identifying the issue helps to give them something to anchor their focus.
- Explain the problem
Helping your client understand what is going on helps provide the pathway toward management strategies that will resolve the symptoms and underlying causes of the issue. By explaining the problem in terms your client can understand you show them you know what you are talking about. Creating trust in you the practitioner will also help to reduce fear.
- Treatment approach
Once the client has a clearer understanding of the problem being able to understand what is required to resolve it will help them form more reasonable expectations and a greater sense of calm.
- Treatment plan
Giving your client a clear picture of what you recommend with regard to amount and frequency of treatment again provides a level of certainty. With greater certainty comes less fear.
- Unexpected outcomes
With any kind of treatment sometimes things can get worse before they get better. Don’t wait for this to happen and then try to manage your clients distress. Pre-empt any issues that you find are a possibility. Take time to consider the way you explain this so as to alleviate rather than escalate fear.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat
We have spent a huge amount of time learning our craft and may very well provide the same types of explanations over and over again throughout the day to different clients. It’s easy then to forget as practitioners that the information we provide to our clients is new to them. As a result they likely will only absorb some of it. Making sure we repeat information over and over and over again will help to reinforce our message, improve understanding and reduce fear.
By managing fear via improving understanding, we are significantly more capable of managing clients expectations, improving client compliance or adherence to advice, ensuring clients maintain the necessary course of treatment and of course get the results we all want.
Take some time to stop and look at the ways you educate your clients about their condition, proposed treatment and why will help resolve a whole bunch of the difficulties you face in managing client expectations and being able to keep your clients on track. I believe it has been the key to my success in practice.
Author: Jeff Shearer is a Chinese medicine practitioner and trainer of practitioners to help them create success with integrity.