Not every small business can be all things to all people. Customer preferences and expectations run the gamut. But when you’re able to identify your core audience, you can build your business around their needs—adding services, products, and specialities that serve them in the fullest capacity your business type allows.
That’s what drives Aligned Modern Health. They offer as much as they can while keeping with their main mission: offering the highest standards of care with a range of treatment options.
This integrated health and wellness practice in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood specializes in non-surgical, non-drug healthcare, offering a combination of chiropractic, acupuncture, nutrition, and massage therapy services. They receive the highest marks from their patients, and there are a few reasons why.
First is their unique and integrated combination of physical therapies and healing, all under one roof. This episode’s reviewer Atiya S. said that is one of the first things that drew her to the practice. “I do acupuncture really often, and I was really shocked to find a location that offered all of these different components that I would need for healing my body. The fact that I could get them all in one place was really impressive to me and really stood out among other places that I was looking for.”
The story of this all-inclusive healing center all started with four friends, said Director of Digital Marketing Elizabeth Sexton. “The big picture for Aligned Modern Health came from four friends who had all fallen in love with individual holistic modalities. They came together and realized that there wasn’t one healthcare company that was doing it all. So their goal was to provide all of these services in an organized and elevated way—and to also make it more accessible to people under one roof.”
Aside from offering multiple high-quality treatment options, another reason they earn such high regards from their patients is their company culture. Atiya said, “I think that their comradery with each other really builds this culture with the patients of, we’re here for you completely, not just for your injury. Getting treatment can be a really scary thing for people. It can be a really sensitive issue, and they just make you feel so comfortable the minute you walk through the door.”
Your company’s culture will always be apparent to your customers, whether it’s their first visit or they’re a seasoned regular. Your staff, setting, and communications should be inviting and comfortable, no matter the industry.
Here are some other key takeaways from the episode:
- Personal touches go a long way. Knowing your customers—like calling them by name and remembering their product preferences—elevates the service they receive and their overall experience.
- Consistency is key. Whether you have one or multiple locations, the consistency of service at your place of business is incredibly important. Your customers will notice and appreciate it.
- Educate. Your customers are coming to you because you’re an expert. Teach them your ways so they can grow and thrive both in and out of your business.
Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Atiya and Elizabeth, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.
Behind the Review, episode 33 transcript
Creating consistency by putting employee culture first
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Every week I pick one review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur … and the reviewer … about the story and business lessons behind it. This week we’ll hear from reviewer Atiya about her experience at Aligned Modern Health—an integrative medicine business that offers evidence-based care and a range of treatment options to address your needs in true alignment, without the use of drugs or surgery.
Let’s hear what’s behind this week’s review.
ATIYA: When I first found Aligned Modern Health, I was feeling really frustrated about my body. I’m an athlete, I’ve been a runner for 20 years. And so physical therapy is part of my life. It’s part of the athlete’s journey and experience. But I hadn’t recently had success with other physical therapists.
I had a sort of ongoing nagging injury that I just couldn’t get through. And I had just moved to Chicago. Looking at reviews everywhere, online for a physical therapist, trying to find a really good match for a place that I felt that would give me a holistic approach. Not just a physical therapist, but you know, part of taking care of your body as an athlete also includes other things like massage, really good diet. I do acupuncture really often and I was really shocked to find a location that offered all of these different components that I would need for healing my body anyway. The fact that I could get them all in one place was really impressive to me and really stood out among other places that I was looking for.
EMILY: That’s Aliya, our reviewer based in Chicago, sharing how she first found out about Aligned Modern Health. Let’s hear Atiya’s review.
ATIYA: I feel like I should name my first born child Aligned Modern Health, after what they’ve done for me. I came to them with a two year old hip injury and casually mentioned that I had been dealing with chronic foot pain for six or so years. They’ve fixed both in eight weeks.
I’ve been a long distance runner for 18 years. I’ve seen dozens of PTs and other treatment specialists across several states for various injuries and never have I ever been so satisfied with and confident in the treatment and results than I have been after going to Align Modern Health. Every single person in the West Loop office is kind, caring, and attentive.
I recommend Aligned Modern Health to everyone, whether you need massage, acupuncture and exercise specialist, or a Cairo adjustment, believe me, they got you.
EMILY: Truth be told, I’m also an Aligned patient, and I can echo many of the things Atiya shared about what makes it such a great place to receive treatment. I also know Elizabeth, the Director of Digital Marketing at Aligned Modern Health, who will be joining us today. Here she is sharing more about how Aligned came to be.
ELIZABETH: The big picture for Aligned Modern Health came from four friends who had all fallen in love with individual holistic modalities, so chiropractic care. One had been receiving acupuncture, one had been working on the nutritional side, one the functional medicine side, and they all came together and realized that there wasn’t one healthcare company who was doing it all. So their goal was to provide all of these services under one roof in an organized and elevated way and to also make it more accessible to people, under one roof and also in the way that we’re able to offer it.
EMILY: Having all of these modalities under one roof is something that sets Aligned apart, but an even more important component of what Aligned Modern Health offers is their education, expertise, and patient empowerment.
ELIZABETH: I would start with one of the uniting elements for all of our locations and all of our providers is patient empowerment. And we do that through education. So our ultimate goal is to give you the tools that you can use outside of our clinics, to unlock your body’s healing potential and its ability to thrive. So the work we do within the clinic, of course, is to educate you on how to do that.
So part of that does include just bringing awareness to our other services as an integrative health care provider. We definitely let you know what your options are, but we are never ever driven by any motivation to give you services or give you anything more than what your body needs. So I think that helps us share this information, in the most natural sense for the patient. So the patient’s able to make those decisions on their own. And at the same time, what goes hand in hand with that is, we just try to make it as easy as possible for you to receive the care that’s going to help your body heal faster. And most often in the natural health care space, in the holistic healthcare space, you’re going to heal faster and with fewer side effects. We want to get you back to feeling your best and doing everything that you love to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible. So we’ll give you options with our space only if it makes sense for you, to co-treat also within our clinic.
So when it comes to the marketing side of everything, often we’re already speaking to somebody or calling attention about their existing problem. And our job in marketing is never to sell anything. Holistic healthcare should never feel like snake oil. So our job in marketing is to really say, here are some solutions for your problem. The fun part of my job is that I get to think about how I can help people and bring more awareness to different options that they have, to reach their health goals and to make their lives better.
EMILY: Prioritizing the patient over profit is something that’s ingrained in the culture of a business. Carried out by the people who work within the walls and represent the brand. As Aligned grew from one clinic to now nearly 17, I was curious how their goal and mission of patient empowerment was maintained as they expanded.
ELIZABETH: I think one thing that we’ve seen as the company has grown, since it began with one individual location in 2011, is that holistic and natural healthcare options used to be on the fringe. We even call it alternative medicine and now it’s becoming more and more mainstream. So the demand for these services and the awareness of how these services can help you has really grown. Our company has been able to grow with that demand. And today we have about 17 clinics. We’re in the process of opening up a couple of new clinics. Which is super exciting.
In addition to that, there was a really wonderful opportunity to reach even more people with our services through telemedicine. So during the challenges of the past year, one of the bright sides and the upsides is that companies were adapting. Consumers were adapting and telemedicine started to grow. It’s always something that’s been out there that’s been available. But now the practical need for it is there. And also people just realize that telemedicine is a convenient way to address your healthcare and to continue to reach your health goals from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
So as a result, we were able to expand a lot sooner than we thought, in terms of a national scope. The goal one day is to be able to provide all of these services under one roof across the nation. And as a result of the rise of telemedicine, we are now in the whole state of Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, Florida and Washington with our functional medicine and clinical nutrition services. So exciting. And you know, to be candid, it’s just a way that it’s beneficial for the companies and for the patients at the same time. We’re able to connect more through the digital technology space. So it’s awesome.
EMILY: Aligned has expanded and grown as the demand and awareness for their services became more mainstream. But keep in mind that growing too fast isn’t a good thing. Afterall, patients like Atiya are still individuals who need individual care. And they need to feel connected as well!
ATIYA: As I mentioned, I’ve been running for a long time. I ran in high school. I ran in college. And so for me, running while it’s often seen as an individual sport, it’s always been a team sport for me. And I felt like Aligned Modern Health was on my team. I had goals to get back out there and run races. And every single person at the office knew who I was, even the people who weren’t working with me. If my appointment was a few minutes late, because they were finishing up with someone else, I would often chat with everyone and hang out with them. Even afterwards, I feel like over the course of my treatment, a lot of these people became my friends. And I think that’s very in line with the office culture that they had. Every year they do a group Halloween costume and they have in-office contests for their patients to participate in.
And I think that their comradery with each other really builds this culture with the patients of, you know, we’re here for you completely, not just for your injury. And, you know, going in and getting treatment can be a really scary thing for people. It can be a really sensitive issue for people, and they just make you feel so comfortable the minute you walk through the door. You feel okay asking questions that you might feel scared about asking or there’s no stupid question or no wrong question. They really do make you feel that way. Like you feel so safe and comfortable. When you walk in and you are just cared for by everyone. Even the people who aren’t in charge of your treatment, they know who you are. They say hi to you. They greet you. They ask you how you’re doing. And they don’t do that just to be polite. They do that because they actually care and they want to know how you’re doing. And that comes across from day one.
EMILY: Here’s Elizabeth sharing a bit more on how that culture and consistency is maintained throughout all the locations.
ELIZABETH: It’s complicated and it’s really simple at the same time. What drew me to Aligned Modern Health as an employee, who actually started back when we first opened up, I was teaching yoga in our clinics as a labor of love and I was doing marketing work for another company. Actually, kind of ironically in the adult beverage space, which was a blast, but I knew that I wanted to align my own passions with my profession and to really give that purpose. And so when the opportunity to join the marketing team came, I didn’t even blink an eye.
And I think that part of our secret sauce, so to speak of how we have so many different providers and usually at one clinic, you know, we have up to five or six providers working in a clinic, sometimes co-treating patients at the same time, all working towards the same goals. I think where we all start at the same starting point, and what unites us is our company culture. Which is something you can’t dictate. It’s really driven by the fact that the people who work at Aligned Modern Health, we’re not just passionate about healthcare, but we’re passionate about people. And that goes back to the main mission. And the goal has been to drive a positive change in the healthcare space through what we’re doing. So I think just naturally, organically we attract people who want to do the same thing and that comes across in our clinics.
I think the second hidden element that we have going on is that we have so many locations. And all of those locations have a kind of unique culture specific to their neighborhoods, but we’re always driven back to our underlying values that the company, and each clinic team. Each clinic location is considered its own team. And so you have the providers at that clinic who represent different specialties and different modalities, and they get to come together and figure out how they can pair up and use their expertise to best help somebody. And then at the same time, the benefit of having a broader network is that every provider at our clinic is also considered a team member within their own practice scope. So they have professionals outside of their specific specialty that they get to work with. And then they get to work with a team of experts within their own expertise to share information and better improve the patient experience from that bigger picture level as well.
EMILY: Collaboration amongst the team both by location and clinic as well as speciality is a great way to connect employees and engrain culture. In your business, is there an opportunity to strengthen the bonds between employees who do the same job, or employees in different departments who overlap to achieve the same goals? Think of ways you can foster positive collaboration and connection with your team.
Changing gears slightly, I want Atiya to share what motivated her to review Aligned.
ATIYA: It is so hard to find a good physical therapist, but it’s so important. And I know that looking at reviews helped me make a decision to try Aligned Modern Health. And honestly, they exceeded my expectations so much. I had a goal of getting back to where I was as a runner and my experience with them turned me into a triathlete. I did more than I thought my body could do after my treatment with them. I just thought that was so amazing. I had to tell people, like I needed to shout from the mountain top that this place changed me and transformed me. And it was so unexpected and I’m so grateful.
They never asked me to write a review, but I think one thing that does encourage reviews on a sort of subtle level is, right behind the reception desk, they have a sign where they sort of blow up a review and they put, I think it’s the review of the week. And it’s really cool to see other people, have their reviews up there and you’re like, wow, this place is doing for so many people what they’re doing for me. And then you also kind of want your review to be up there too. And so they never asked me to write a review, but every week I would go in there and I would see someone else’s review. And I was like, you know what? They have done such incredible work for me and my body that I’m going to write a review and I’m going to be on that wall to tell other people how amazing this place is.
I think reviews are really, really important for helping people select a service, any kind of service that they need, especially when they’re moving to a new place and they don’t know anyone. And that’s really what happened to me with Aligned Modern Health. And I think that the best thing that any kind of business can do is just remember that any person who walks through the door, whether they stay with you for a day or for weeks, they have an ability to leave a review. A good review or a bad review. And that review can really, really impact others who are looking for a service and really, dictate whether or not people are going to keep coming to your business. And while the point of providing good service isn’t for the review. And that shouldn’t be the goal. I think it’s really important just to remember that anyone who interacts with your business should feel happy after they leave.
EMILY: It’s really important to note that asking for reviews is against Yelp’s terms of service and content guidelines, so I was very happy to hear that Aligned Modern Health never asked Atiya for a review, but WOW! How incredibly strategic and inspirational to share a ‘review of the week’ or ‘review of the month’ visibly in your business for other clients to see.
Here’s Elizabeth sharing a bit of her insights from a marketing perspective on the role of reviews.
ELIZABETH: In general, as marketers, we know that reviews are important. Word of mouth has been as old as time. Pre-internet, a very important factor in terms of getting new customers and in our case, helping serve new patients. So that’s always been a huge factor of reviews. Secondary to that, may not be clear to the non-marketing eye, but reviews are a really important part of SEO. And there’s a social signal. Quote-unquote social signal that actual algorithms are looking for on the internet to know that your business has some quality. So that’s an important signal that you want to help share word of mouth in the digital space, with other people, in a non robotic sense. But then in a technical sense, you do want to make sure that, just by word of mouth and letting other people show, not tell you in a way, you’re able to also let the search engine know that, ey, we’re over here. We’re a good business. We’re doing a good job. Look at us and please share us with other people.
So that is where reviews come in as a fundamental state. I also think it’s important not to overlook that reviews are really good feedback. It’s great to receive a compliment. And as a company, we get very excited and I think reviews are the best form of flattery and thanks that we can ever receive from our patients.
One thing I love about Aligned Modern Health is that we always want to do things the right way. So we will go out of our way to make sure that we’re doing things the right way. So whenever we encounter a review, we generate some awareness within the company, if it’s a positive review, we’re going to let the providers know. We’re going to let the team know. Sometimes we’ll let everybody on that provider’s practice team. So all the acupuncturists get to cheer and celebrate somebody’s success when they have a great review.
In the marketing scope and in terms of internal education, that is just a nice positive reminder about how important reviews are. So it’s without forcing people to ask for reviews. It’s just a nice, natural, positive way to keep it on top of conversation for us internally. So that’s great. What we do as a healthcare provider, to respect privacy, I will go ahead and I’ll let our clinic managers or team members know so that when they encounter the patient again, who gave them the great review, they’re able to actually reinforce that in person instead of us going online. And, it’s great. You can interact with people online, directly, but I think that the bright side of our challenge is that we get to make that experience even more personal.
On the flip side of that, it does bring a little bit of a challenge when we receive a negative review, Again, it happens to everybody. We’re very lucky knock on wood. I shouldn’t be saying this. But we receive a lot of great feedback, especially as a healthcare company. I know in terms of my own experience. I’m not one to necessarily always jump on Yelp about my dentist or about my med spa treatments. But we’re really lucky that patients are so happy and feel so great about what they’ve experienced, that they’re able to share that data with our providers in this way.
EMILY: To close us out, I wanted to give Elizabeth a chance to talk about negative reviews, because as you may have guessed, with over 15 locations and even more practitioners, Aligned deals with a lot of reviews—not all of them positive. Also, healthcare providers have the unique challenge of needing to comply with HIPAA, or patient privacy, so responding can be tricky. But Elizabeth breaks it down perfectly!
ELIZABETH: We take negative reviews very seriously, as important feedback. And just like people, companies are not perfect. And all feedback is valid. So we sincerely take all feedback into consideration. As a healthcare company we have a unique challenge because we follow HIPAA policy. So it doesn’t make it impossible to approach reviews and nothing is ever impossible, but we just have to think about it in a way that respects privacy. So as a healthcare company, we choose not to respond publicly to reviews. And this is a gray area of HIPAA policy where you might see some healthcare providers doing it.
But when people do have an unsatisfactory experience, one, we want to first try to implement some different ways of surveying the patient experience first. In order to circumvent a negative experience. And that way you’re able to get ahead of a negative review, but also most importantly, you’re just able to service your customer or your patient in the best way.
But, if that doesn’t happen and a negative review makes its way to the public space, we approach these with the utmost urgency of time sensitivity, and again, with all seriousness. So we bring in multiple members of our team. We bring in the managers who were involved in the patient treatment, and then we do our diligence to reach out to the person directly, talk to them about their experience, get more feedback, for how we can improve things from our end and hopefully see if we can provide a better experience for them moving forward. And this has been a really wonderful, successful approach.
Again, for us, I think it helps us improve as a company. Our goal is to always try to turn the frown upside down, even if that sounds cliche, but our job here is to try to make people feel better.
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