We have used a very simple patient communication technique in our practice for the past 20 years and, looking back on it, I’m amazed at the impact it has had on patient loyalty, referrals and our local reputation. The technique involves sending a greeting card to patients that is a little different than the usual ones people get. We call it the “you’re-in-the-news” card.
The front of the card is covered with newspaper print and in the center it reads: “You’re in the news!”. The message inside reads: “It’s nice to read good things about friends.”
When the doctors and staff in our office read our local newspaper, we quite often see a story about one of our patients. When this happens, we clip it out and bring it to the office. One of our receptionists folds and places the article in a your-in-the-news card and addresses the envelope. The doctor writes a short note of congratulations and it is mailed. It only takes a minute.
Getting your name or picture in the paper is a big deal for anyone – but the fun part is finding out if anyone noticed it! When the recipient finds out that his eye doctor saw it, and was impressed enough to send a copy, it makes am impression that sticks. I can’t tell you how often I will see a patient in the grocery store and she will say how thoughtful it was for us to send that card. Just last week my daughter-in-law happened to meet a patient of ours and upon learning the connection to our practice – the patient told her how we once sent her this cute greeting card when she had her picture in the paper – years ago! These kind of personal touches seem small – but when accumulated over the years, the effect is profound.
We used to buy these greeting cards from mail-order practice marketing companies, but when they stopped producing them, we designed our own and had our local printer make them with plain envelopes. We hand address the envelopes and our name is not pre-printed, to further enhance the personal touch in this computer age.
Of course, we only use this technique when the story is about a good thing – like a civic good deed or volunteer work or business advancement. If you have a patient that is indicted on legal charges, you may not want to send a your-in-the-news card :)
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management