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In the book, Human Sigma, authors John Fleming and Jim Asplund suggest that there are four hierarchical dimensions of emotional attachment in developing customer relationships. The same four hierarchical dimensions potentially apply to the relationships we develop with our patients through the experiences we share with them at our practices. Fleming and Asplund present these dimensions graphically as a pyramid in which Customer Confidence is the base and the next levels (developed from confidence), are Integrity, Pride, and Passion (in hierarchical order).
 
To build a lasting emotional attachment to our services, the consumer must first have a sense of confidence. Confidence is developed by consistently delivering a service. As Asplund and Fleming state in Human Sigma, “Is the practice (company) trustworthy? Can they be trusted to do what they say will do day in and day out?  Confidence is the foundation on which emotional attachment is built.” Delivering a consistent level of service and a constant experience every time a patient walks into your clinic builds confidence with the patient. This is the foundation through which patients will develop an emotional attachment to your practice — beyond a mere rational attachment — and will ultimately result in lifelong loyalty.
 
When a patient selects our practice initially it is often for scheduling convenience, insurance access or a referral from another professional. This is a rational attachment. Elevating their attachment to your practice in a way that resonates at an emotional level is what will convert them from your patient to your raving fan. The raving fan, with an emotional attachment to your practice, is inspired to tell others about their experience, becoming a living, breathing, walking testimonial for your practice. Building an emotional attachment will allow us to be someone’s clinician, physical therapist, physician, or caregiver for life. With an emotional attachment patients are armed with the confidence in our care to recommend us to their family and friends. Transforming patients into emotional advocates for our practices requires a foundation of confidence.
 
Before contemplating which type of ad to place, what questions to ask on the patient satisfaction survey, or which community event to sponsor; consider first, “How do we build confidence in our services on a day-to-day basis with our patients?” 

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Bridget Morehouse PT, MBA is a consultant with Steffes and Associates, a rehabilitation consulting firm based in Wisconsin.