Several years ago, when my client opened her Veterinary clinic, she instructed all her staff to serve their human clients tea.

That means when a pet parent walks through their front door and sits with their dog or cat in the clinic’s living-room-esque waiting room, the receptionist comes out and asks what type of tea would be preferred. (See pic below)

A few minutes later, the team member returns with a beautiful presentation of specialty tea served in a pretty cup and on a plate.

Later, the tea will accompany the client as he or she (and said pet) is lovingly escorted into one of the exam rooms by someone on the team.

Here’s a quick pic of one of their treatment rooms:

There are no extra fees involved in receiving a delicious cup of tea that can help relax a client in a stressful moment.

To be super clear, this is not the same as sticking a Nespresso or Keurig machine in a corner in the waiting room and refilling it when the pods run out.

This is special.

It is hospitality in the healthcare setting and patients love it!

When I asked my client, Dr. Kristin Amundson-Speer, why she simply didn’t install a self-service hospitality table set up in the waiting room, she replied, “We love to serve and it makes our clients feel more at home with us.”

Her response made me think of one of Dr. Robert Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Persuasion:

👉 Number 1: Reciprocity.

“Reciprocity is the obligation to give when you receive. People are more likely to say yes to those they owe.” —Influenceatwork.com:

Cialdini (via his website) shares a study of giving diners at a restaurant a single mint at the end of their meal. This increased tips by around 3%.

Interestingly, if 2 mints are provided, tips don’t double. They quadruple to a 14% increase in tips!

And, finally, if the waiter gives one mint to the patrons at the table, walks away and then pauses, turns around and says, “For you nice people, here’s another mint”, tips go through the roof at 23% increase!

The amount of reciprocity was influenced by how it was given.

It might be fair then to say (and of course I haven’t done a study on this… yet) that not only do my Veterinary clinic’s human clients feel exceptionally well taken care of when they are served tea, they might even tend to spend more, or share more about the experience to their friends and family because they desire reciprocity.

Of course, the team does not serve their clientele tea to get more money out of them.

On the contrary, they do it because they love serving in this way and it makes everyone feel good. It becomes a ritual that is treasured.

As I explained this to my Indian Hindu friend, she tells me this reminds her of a common practice in her country to offer guests tea and cookies.

She explains, “In India when we receive a guest at our home, we serve tea and cookies. We always make sure to have our pantries and cupboards filled with tea and cookies. We see serving our guests in this way as an act of devotion to God.”

In fact, the word Namaste (a word that comes from the Hindu religion translates into English to “the Divine in me greets the Divine in you.”

I love the idea that not only can serving your clients and patients tea in the waiting room or treatment room (however you decide to do it) is good for everyone’s heart and soul, it’s also good for your business. 💖

Within the first 18 months of the Veterinary clinic opening their front doors, they filled up their practice, and then some years later, expanded the clinic to the upstairs space to accommodate their continued growth.

Of course this success was not based on serving their clients tea. But rather, being of service in this way is a reflection of their entire work culture–in service to their patients in the most caring way possible, and in turn, their patients reciprocate.

This is an exquisite example of how to build relationships in a healthcare setting and putting people first.

So tell me, do you have a hospitality table in your waiting room?

If so, do you offer it as a self-service station or do you (or someone on your team) serve your guests?

I’d love to know. Send me note here.

Yours in smart and soulful healing spaces,

HOW DO I DESIGN A WAITING ROOM THAT KEEPS PATIENTS RETURNING & REFERRING?
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