Optometric Management Tip # 311   -   Wednesday, January 16, 2008
What stories do your patients tell?

Since word of mouth referral is the number one way professional practices obtain new patients, let's take a look at what your patients are likely saying about your practice. People love to talk about any new and exciting experience that occurs in their lives and a visit to the eye doctor certainly could qualify. If you do things unique and special enough, you could have people raving about your services to their hair stylist, neighbors, co-workers, friends and relatives.

Patients tell what you give them

I believe we all have tremendous control over what patients say about our practices, but few of us take advantage of the opportunity. It all depends on how high you set your sights. If you set out to achieve satisfied patients and provide eye care in the usual manner, then you may not get much buzz at all. People only talk about events that are truly noteworthy. If they just get what they expect, there is really not much to talk about. Most people have had an eye exam before and if the experience in your office is roughly the same, it's highly unlikely that much will be said. Satisfied patients don't refer their friends; enthusiastic ones do!

Worse than silence, of course, is negative word of mouth. Do enough things poorly and your patients will tell others how awful their experience was! Of course, most eye care practitioners don't create unhappy patients on a regular basis, but some practices have chronic problems and the owner doesn't even know it.

Positive stories

Creating a unique and exciting patient experience is not easy, but it can truly be the most powerful marketing strategy you could ever implement. It's really the only marketing effort you need to build a highly successful practice. Consider these examples as told from the patient's point of view: Negative stories

Watch out for these examples of patient dissatisfaction. Eliminate issues like these through more staff training and investing in your facility. Efforts that can backfire

Having the resources to provide a special experience in your office is only part of the requirement. Be sure to review how you use the resources. Your patient's point of view could be quite different from yours.
Best wishes for continued success,

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