7 Conversation Starters for Patient Consultations

Consultations are one of the most important parts of your patients’ buying process – not just because it’s an opportunity to learn more about the products and services they’re thinking about, but it’s also a chance to get to know you personally. Consultations can be difficult, especially for patients who aren’t talkative or are nervous, but making a good impression and coming off as friendly, approachable, and trustworthy can do more for your reputation than any amount of digital marketing.

Still, starting good conversations can be hard for even the best doctors. Here are 7 conversation starters for consultation rooms and how you can use them to make sure your patients enjoy their experience with you.

What makes a good conversation starter?

There’s a certain art to picking a good conversation starter. The goal of a conversation starter is the keep the other person talking naturally and the conversation flowing. It’s simply about getting the other person to open up and establish a good rapport.

That being said, there are a few factors to picking a good conversation starter. Your question should be:

  • Open-ended: Yes or no questions can be easier to think up, but it’s also easier for your patient to answer “yes” or “no” and then carry on in silence. Make sure your question is open-ended and requires some thought.
  • Out of the ordinary: Avoid typical topics like the weather or job-related things since they’re not particularly interesting. Asking your patient a question that takes them out of their regular routine can help them open up and remember their encounter more positively.
  • Professional: Conversation starters should never touch on topics like politics, family, finances, or religion. Bringing up unprofessional topics can turn off prospective patients who feel uncomfortable, even if it wasn’t your intent.
  • Relevant: If your conversation starter is too specific or out-of-touch, your patient won’t be able to contribute. In this case, you run the risk of being the one doing all the talking!

As with anything, never make assumptions based on your patient’s demographic (age, gender, race, etc.) and what you think they might be interested in talking about. In fact, it can be helpful to just stick to a small handful of questions that you can ask no matter who comes in the door.

Questions to start a conversation

It can be difficult to come up with questions that fit these criteria, so here’s a list of good conversation starters for meeting with new and existing patients.

1.      What’s your favorite thing to do around here?

This can be helpful in a couple ways – firstly, if your patient lives in your area, it immediately establishes some things in common. Secondly, if your patient isn’t from your area, then it gives you a chance to make good recommendations for things to do and places to stay while they’re visiting. Obviously, your patient has traveled to you for a reason, so you can set yourself apart as a unique practice truly in touch with the local environment rather than a cookie-cutter option.

2.      Do you have any pets?

The one thing that never changes is that people love talking about their pets. Pets are a source of great comfort for many people, so – especially when patients are nervous – talking about their pets can be a way to pull them out of their anxiety and talk about something they adore. If you have pets, make sure to have some pictures on hand so you can share, as well.

3.      I’m planning my next vacation. Can you recommend anywhere interesting?

Everybody has a favorite vacation they’ve undertaken, and you might find that you have destinations in common. You can also learn a lot about a person’s interests and hobbies by the activities they do while on vacation, whether it’s as outdoorsy as hiking, kayaking, or fishing or as relaxed as sightseeing, shopping, or dining out. It can even be an easy jumping point for other topics of conversation.

4.      Do you listen to podcasts? What’s your favorite one?

There are a lot of unique and delightful podcasts out there and most people are always excited to recommend their favorites. Again, you can learn a lot about people by their podcast preferences, which are most often tied to their favorite hobbies and interests. Podcast recommendations often spread through word of mouth, too, so it can be a good follow-up question to ask how they found it. Finally, it can be a good opportunity to plug your own podcast (if you have one).

5.      Great shoes/outfit color/accessory! Where’d you get it?

Giving your patient a quick confidence boost can go a long way in helping them warm up to you. However, keep in mind that people generally like to be complimented on things they have control over, so avoid compliments directed at their body and natural features. Instead, things they chose like a haircut, outfit piece, or nail polish color are great options for compliments.

6.      How’d you hear about us?

Although maybe not a great question to start with, it can still be a good thing to ask once you have a good conversation flowing. Taken as a whole, this can help you get a feel for whether patients are finding your practice by word-of-mouth, organic search, or social media, for example. People always have a reason for choosing a business or practice and who knows – they might have a good story to go along with it.

7.      How has your time with us been so far?

This can be a good way to get a pulse on your practice’s patient hospitality and what areas you can improve, like the check-in process, waiting room, accommodations, and staff availability. On the other hand, it’s also a great way to hear what your practice is doing right when it comes to the patient experience. It’s always good to get feedback directly from patients who might even have good recommendations on how to make your patient experience even better.

Let’s Get In Touch

Having the right support is important when it comes to growing your practice. At Digital Limelight Media, we offer all the industry-leading tools you need to thrive and provide the experience your patients are looking for. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form to learn more.