Optometric Management Tip # 342   -   Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Influence Point Analysis

One of the most important factors in practice development is the patient's opinion of service quality at your office. Evaluating his or her experience is something every patient does at every visit. The overall effect of that evaluation on practice growth is huge because word of mouth recommendation is the largest source of new patients for private practices. Word of mouth is the best form of marketing available to us.

Smart practice owners actively increase the word of mouth referral factor by analyzing and improving the typical patient experience in the office. This process is called influence point analysis. Influence points are the interactions your practice has with a patient. The Walt Disney Company and others have called them moments of truth; Ritz-Carlton hotels refer to them as key success factors and many other top organizations have studied how they interact with customers.

The best place to start this analysis is by making a list of influence points that occur in your practice. It is a very large list: there are minor influence points and major ones; we can consider direct points and indirect ones. In this tip and in the weeks ahead, I'll help you perform this powerful management project which can lead to a reengineering of your procedures and ultimately, faster practice growth.

The Analysis

Simply making the list of influence points will help you analyze them. Think about each point from the patient's point of view, not your or your staff's point of view. It may help to actually walk through your office as if you're a patient. Spend some time observing areas of patient flow that you don't usually see, such as the initial greeting at the front desk. Don't assume that the way you originally envisioned your practice operations is the way they are actually conducted at present. Office procedures have a way of changing over time.

Consider the following as you analyze each point of interaction: The list of influence points

The list of influence points may vary with each practice, but here are some examples. Develop your own list by tracking each step of a typical patient visit at your office. The points above might be referred to as primary points because your staff actually speaks directly to the patient or the patient is in your office. A listing of secondary points is also useful and should be analyzed: We'll delve into some of these influence points in the weeks ahead to discuss how to improve them.

Best wishes for continued success,

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