Optometric Management Tip # 55   -   Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Satisfied patients don't refer their friends...

...enthusiastic ones do!

That title is a cute saying that I've used in lectures for 20 years. It is meant to get your attention. It makes the point that to build patient volume through patient referrals, one must deliver an experience that goes way beyond the expected. Beyond the norm. Many optometrists have set their sights on achieving patient satisfaction, but to really build a fantastic practice today, the goal must be patient enthusiasm.

After all, in order to get a person to talk about a visit to your office to friends and relatives, something special must have happened. Something worthy of remembering and bringing up. We all know that word of mouth referral is the primary way that optometric practices are built, but it's easy to forget that you can have a huge influence on it.

Many optometric practices could use more patient demand. No, let's make that all practices. Lack of patient volume is the biggest problem facing our profession today, in my opinion. Imagine what you could do if you had more patients wanting appointments then you could handle. You could raise fees, drop some vision plans, expand to a new office, hire more staff members and associate doctors, buy advanced equipment, and so on. What a wonderful problem that would be to deal with ... too many patients!

So ask yourself if your patients leave your office enthusiastic - or just satisfied. What have you done lately to get them talking? Do you offer legendary customer service? Are you on time for appointments 98% of the time? Do you have the best frame selection in the city (or county)? Did you recently purchase the latest diagnostic instrument to make your examination a cut above? As my friend Bob Levoy said, "Good enough is no longer good enough".

Here is my suggestion for your next staff meeting. Boldly tell your staff that satisfied patients don't refer their friends... (pause) ...enthusiastic ones do. Then begin a discussion on how you can amaze and wow the patients who are coming to see you in the coming week.

Best wishes for continued success,

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