Do you call your clients customers, guests or patients?

Words are more than just representation of how we think. They also shape how we think.

I was delivering training last week and one of the managers noticed that I used the word “guest” when describing one of their customers. He asked me why I used that distinction.

Many years ago I read a book called “If Disney Ran Your Hospital” and it’s been a resource I’ve drawn on since. Disney also insists that the words it uses matter. Disney consciously calls its staff “cast members,” thus assigning even janitors or fast-food servers a “role” in the show. Visitors are “guests,” not customers.

Disney’s customer service ethos boils down to one key concept: Exceed guests’ expectations. There’s a reason that Disney is known as The Happiest Place On Earth and we would do well to take a leaf out of their book by dazzling and delighting customers in every way possible.

Making the customer feel happy

Other Disney tips include making sure that each member of staff knows what is expected of them and is accountable – one negative encounter could ruin the customer’s experience, no matter how many other positive interactions they had that day.

There is also a lot of emphasis put on listening to the customer and only helping them after you have listened to what they have to say

Walt Disney’s core belief was that by making his guests happy and providing a quality service, the money would come naturally. Money was therefore never the main aim in the Disney experience but rather that the customers always come first with the trust that if they have a quality experience, it would be rewarded later.

The patient/customer title debate in healthcare has been raging for years. Many people have historically seen those that health care services serve as patients. As healthcare has become more commercialised, managers have introduced the term “customer” into the healthcare lexicon.

And it isn’t just managers that have championed the use of the term.

Patients too, as they have become more informed and begin seeing healthcare in the same light they might see any business that services customers, have taken the label on as a means to getting the kind of treatment they might expect from commercial enterprises – especially in private healthcare.

While I don’t always use it, I like Disney’s term the best.

People in customer service positions often have very different views about how to treat customers, but most people know instinctively how they’d treat a new guest in their home.

If we could extend the same level of hospitality to our customers as we do for guests visiting us at home, we may find it may not only change the way they respond to us, but also how we feel about hosting them.

NOTE: The best way to answer that nagging question about practice growth or marketing or patient volume in the back of your mind is to book a free 15-minute compatibility call. Get some options and go away with a clear idea of what’s possible.

About the author


LiveseySolar’s mission is to double the size of 150 cataract and refractive surgery practices. Using our proven marketing frameworks and deep market knowledge, our customers can predictably and sustainably grow their practices so that they can enjoy a healthy balance between both worlds – a successful private practice and a happy life.

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Meet our Founders

We’re passionate about helping leaders of high-quality, growth-minded practice owners double their practice revenue

Rod Solar

Founder & Scalable Business Advisor

Rod Solar is a co-founder of LiveseySolar and a Scalable Business Advisor / fCMO for our customers. Rod mentors and coaches CEOs/Founders and their leadership teams to double their sales, triple their profits, and achieve their “ideal exit”.

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LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.

— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO

Laura Livesey

Founder & CEO

Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.

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Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.

— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK