Optometric Management Tip # 19   -   Wednesday, May 29, 2002
The Follow-up Phone Call

I’m sure most of you have heard of this concept – but if you haven’t incorporated it yet, or if it has been dropped from your standard procedures for some reason – I strongly encourage you to adopt it. The tip is to have one of your staff members call every patient who obtains eyeglasses from your practice, about one week after they are dispensed, to ask how they’re enjoying their new eyewear. This is a huge practice builder, and as mentioned in Tip #16, it does not have to take any time if it is incorporated as someone’s side job.

When I suggested this technique in a practice management lecture once, a doctor in the audience remarked that he had enough problems with patients complaining about glasses and he didn’t need to call them and get more complaints. Ahhh, but that is the point, isn’t it? You really should want to hear the complaints and cherish the opportunity to fix them quickly and pleasantly. After all, many people would find it pretty intimidating to complain to a doctor, and for each one who does voice a complaint, there are several more who try to live with a problem or just steam over it.

There is nothing worse for your reputation than a pair of new glasses that sit in a drawer. The patient may be too timid to tell you – but they will not be shy about telling others, often for years! Imagine the scenario: “I paid $400 for these glasses and they were never right!” – “Where did you get them?” – “Gailmard Eye Center”. I want to find these patients and fix whatever they perceive as wrong. Besides, it’s much easier to tackle these problems when my office initiates the call! Patients are much nicer about it because they didn’t have to confront the issue – and they know we care. I hope we reach the patient before they reach us.

We assign this task to a very friendly technician who has good knowledge of optics and eye care. He or she can decide if it is a problem that our staff can handle, or if a no-charge re-check by the doctor is needed. In the vast majority of cases, the call simply results in the patient saying he loves the glasses and thanking us for our interest. Even this creates enormous good will.

The calling technician keeps a notebook of calls with dates and comments. Our business office staff creates the call list from Rx order forms – noting if the patient is a child, so the technician can ask for a parent.

Dr. Greg Leet of Cape Girardeau, MO e-mailed me about another tip and he mentioned that his office calls all new contact lens patients 48 hours after the dispensing visit to ask how they’re doing and if there are any questions. As he points out, patients only remember about 10% of what we tell them.

Call your patients – you’ll be glad you did!

Best wishes for continued success,

Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Chief Optometric Editor, Optometric Management