“Happy energy,” the director responded when I asked why he selected me as one of the actors for the newest Coors Beer national commercial. He had auditioned over one thousand actors for the ten very small (3 second) principle on-camera roles, one of which I had gotten.
Oscar Award-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, et al) was the director on our shoot and he had been hired by one of the most successful advertising agencies in America to create a commercial ad campaign for the client.
He went on to explain, “People change television channels very quickly when commercials come on. If they happen to see your face as they are speeding through, I want them to see something that makes them stop and go, ‘Wait. What’s she so happy about? What does she know that I don’t know? I want what she’s having.’”
Years later, in my career as a motivational speaker and customer service trainer, I learned a concept that aligned perfectly with what Mr. Hall had told me. It was this: People aren’t really buying your product or service. They are buying the emotional state they think they’ll get – when they receive your product or service.
Successful advertising companies know that everyone, on some level, is seeking the emotional state of happiness. And if what you are selling promises to bring happiness to the party, then you are ahead of the game.
Evidence: IHop isn’t selling “pancakes and waffles.” Their offering is for you to “Come hungry – leave happy.” Cocoa Cola doesn’t invite you to “open a bottle of soda,” but rather, “Open happiness.” Walgreens doesn’t ask you to “buy your drugstore needs from us,” but instead asks you to come to the “Corner of Healthy and Happy.” And who didn’t want the cheese that came from those happy cows? Even companies providing products and services that you would never associate happiness with – have jumped on the Happy Wagon. A few years ago the American Cancer Society ran a television commercial that clearly suggested that if you got your colonoscopy – you would end up being very happy.
Here’s my question to you: Do you capitalize on this idea in your practice? Are you selling happiness?
Do patients hear a voice on the phone when they call that makes them think, “Wow, what is she so happy about? I want what she’s having!” Do they walk into your office and immediately see a genuinely happy, warm, smiling face that makes them feel, well, happy? Does every single person in your office (dentists included) embody the attitude, “I LOVE being here! This is the BEST place EVER! This place makes me really happy!” And does that attitude actually show up in their faces? In the sound of their voices, and in how they talk to and interact with each other?
Speaking as a patient, let me assure you, we see those interactions. We are on hyper-alert. We do not miss a thing. From the moment we walk into your office we are desperately looking for information to answer our copious questions. Am I safe? Should I be scared? Are they going to hurt me? Am I just a number to them? As we scan the environment, we pick up billions of bits of information and draw our conclusions based on what we perceive. And get this: while a lot of that information may impact us only on an unconscious level, it can actually influence our behaviors. We DO something in response to what we are perceiving, and we don’t have any conscious awareness of why.
- I leave after my first appointment and never come back.
- When I call for an appointment and only get an impersonal recording, I don’t leave a voicemail message.
- I miss appointments (“Whoops, I forgot…)
And here’s what happens next in this model. Since happiness is contagious (you can thank your clever little mirror neurons for that), your patients or prospective patients will pick up your happiness and start feeling it as well. So they will actually start to feel the benefits of your staff’s happiness from their very first encounter.
Now let the positive associations begin. Watch what happens over time:
- They hear your happy voice on the phone – they feel happy
- They see your happy faces in the office – they feel happy
- They smell the DELICIOUS (oh please make them delicious) smells in your office – they feel happy.
- They see fresh cut flowers and sparkling water with lemon slices – and they feel happy.
- They hear happy voices and laughter coming from down the halls – and they feel happy
People can now just THINK about you, the dentist, the hygienist, the same flowers, the lemon water or whatever – and feel happy.
And yes, you may have a bit of a hill to climb here since, historically, most people do not associate “happiness” with going to the dentist. But I believe you can change all that. It starts with you and every person in your practice.
It starts with every one of you being committed to create the kind of patient experience that makes people so deliriously happy, that they want to scream your praises to everyone who will listen and be loyal to you for life.
And that requires everyone, individually, making a conscious choice to bring their happiest self to the party. It means that instead of embodying NEUTRAL ENERGY (“I’m just doing life, on auto-pilot, getting my work done, nothing’s really great – but nothing’s too bad either”) everyone commits to embody HAPPY ENERGY (“I LOVE my job, I LOVE my patients, I get to make a powerful difference for SO many people. I am BEYOND grateful!”)
Make this shift in your thinking and your behaviors and watch what happens. People will want what you’ve got. They’ll want to be in your space. They will be nicer and easier to be around. They’ll buy a ticket to ride in your Happy Wagon and won’t blink at the price.
I’ll leave you with the words of Albert Schweitzer:
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.”
Sing it, Al!