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 By Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO, Editor November 2, 2011 - Tip #506 
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Free Wi-Fi in Your Reception Area

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It is often the little things that matter the most.  A friend of mine recently suggested that I offer free Wi-Fi to our patients in my office.  My initial thought was: Of course!  Why hadn't I already done it?  I'm sure many optometrists already offer this thoughtful service, but if you're part of the vast majority who do not, consider this an "Aha!" moment.

Good will
Recognizing that customer service is the most important factor in practice building, I'm always looking for new and unique ways to improve the total patient experience in my practice.  A great patient experience is an accumulation of many positive events during a patient's visit; some big and some small.  We try very hard to minimize time spent in the waiting area of the office, but we know there is always some, such as:

  • A short wait to be called in for the exam.
  • Waiting time while pupils are dilating could run 30 minutes.
  • Friends and family members of the patient who come along could wait 60 minutes.

Optometrists have been very innovative in the past about implementing courtesies for people in the reception room.  Here are few:

  • Cable television on a neutral channel, like Home and Garden TV.
  • Continuous loop eye care videos on a flat panel monitor.  Keep the volume low or off.
  • A nice variety of current editions of great and unique magazines.
  • Refreshments like coffee, tea and water.
  • Handheld video games.
  • Special candies - have you tried Chupa Chups lollipops with a yogurt filling?

Of course, each of us must evaluate the practical nature of the perk along with the cost, but the idea is to go above and beyond and offer something different and special.

Free Wi-Fi
In today's age of electronic devices such as smart phones, iPads and ultrathin laptops, more and more people bring their work and entertainment with them.  With millions of apps available, people have customized their devices to give them the options they enjoy, such as movies, TV shows, sport scores (or the actual live game), favorite magazines, e-books, music via ear buds, video games, solitaire, crossword puzzles, news reports, email, texting, work documents and, well, the list goes on and on.

What many of these apps need to operate properly is a high speed internet connection.  Some devices have built-in 3G or 4G wireless capability, but many do not and Wi-Fi is faster and more enjoyable in any case.  Offering free Wi-Fi with a strong signal in your waiting area for patient use is a thoughtful touch.  Of course, to get the full mileage for the gesture, you should have a professional sign made up with words to this effect:

Gailmard Eye Center always tries to
minimize your waiting time, but to make it
more pleasant, please enjoy our free Wi-Fi service.

Log onto GEC Wi-Fi.  No password needed.

Setting up Wi-Fi
I assume you already have high-speed internet access at your office.  Buying a wireless router and installing it is really pretty easy and inexpensive, but if that is not your area of interest you can always hire a local IT specialist to do it for you.  The main consideration is to protect your office network and that may be best achieved by using a different router rather than sharing an existing one.  Always be sure your office network has strong password protection.  The router should be located in close proximity to the waiting room for a strong signal.

Best wishes for continued success,

Read Past Tips Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week

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Send questions and comments to neil@gailmard.com.

Dr. Gailmard offers consulting services to eye care professionals through Prima Eye Group; information is available at www.primaeyegroup.com.

Please Note: The views expressed in Management Tip of the Week do not necessarily reflect those of the sponsor.

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