Websites: Welcoming Receptionists

November 23, 2016 2:44 pm

A survey recently published by Cancer Research UK reports that 39.5% of adults are put off making an appointment with their GP due to the receptionist. Unless your surgery offers an online booking system, the receptionist is the first point of call.

The survey identified that what put people off included the receptionist’s abrupt tone, being asked for personal or sensitive details and a belief that useful information was not being openly shared. This presented a barrier between the patient and their GP. It meant that even when people had health concerns and needed to see a doctor, they avoided taking action.

So what has a GP’s receptionist got to do with website design?

When it comes to your business, your website is often the first port of call for many potential and existing customers. With technology on our side, it is perfectly reasonable to accept that many customers may never meet you in person or visit your physical premises, so your website could be your primary means of engaging with them.

The question is whether your website content is engaging, approachable and informative or whether it operates like the GP receptionist. It is a challenge to look at your website with fresh eyes and see it from the perspective of a first time visitor, so you may want some independent assistance with this.

Consider whether the images, language and tone are inviting and if the navigation and content provides visitors with the information they are looking for. If you are asking people to fill in details to make an enquiry, place an order or book an appointment, are all the details necessary or are you asking for more than you really need to progress?

An effective website should encourage visitors to browse. They need to find what they searched for immediately, but then get drawn to other features on your pages. Multimedia content, product recommendations, seasonal promotions, reviews of new services and links to other areas of the website are all ways of prolonging the interaction.

Booking the Appointment

If people are put off booking an appointment with their GP when they have serious health concerns, it gives you an indication of how easily they could be put off taking action for something less pressing. When planning a website design it is important to make it as easy as possible for visitors to take action.

In order to encourage action, you need to be clear what it is that you want them to do. Do you want visitors to book an appointment or make a purchase online? Would you prefer them to give you a call, or would you like to answer as many of their questions online to reduce the number of calls? Is the goal to direct them to your physical premises or enlist their support for your cause?

It is preferable to stick to encouraging one action, as too much choice is confusing. The website design can direct people towards taking this action and the process should be as easy and intuitive as possible; one click too many could be all it takes to put someone off.

A GP may be grateful that nearly 40% of patients never make the call, but few businesses can afford to miss out on this number of perspective clients. Whether you have an established website or are planning a new design, ensure that it makes the right impression.

For further advice or a quote for your website design, Reading and surrounding areas of Berkshire are served by Urban Media. We have the experience to deliver a website that breaks down the barriers and encourages visitors to convert to customers.


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