Article Date: 11/1/2007

How Do You Show Your Appreciation?
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How Do You Show Your Appreciation?

In this month of Thanksgiving, thank early and thank often.

FROM THE EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jim Thomas

Can a postcard marked "Customer Appreciation Day" be the source of ridicule and bad feelings? Yes it can. Welcome to my house.

"Look at what our car dealership sent," said my wife holding up the postcard. "We spend thousands of dollars there, and they manage to eke out one day to say thanks. How generous."

I'm sure she would drop the sarcastic tone if she knew that if we attend, we'd receive free key chains inscribed with the dealership logo.

A new rule of appreciation

Appreciation events can be rewarding, and they can fail when they are the only times a practice shows its gratitude. (Yes, it used to be that saving a patient's eyesight was enough — in fact, it was you who received the thanks. But in today's competitive marketplace, thanking the patient for the opportunity to save his/her eyesight can improve your practice.) How often should your practice show appreciation? Every chance it gets. Here are some examples:

Phone calls: "Thank you for calling John Doe Eyecare. How may I help you?"

For where no appointment is scheduled: "Thank you for thinking of John Doe Eyecare. If we can ever help you, please give us a call."

The first hand-off: When the receptionist hands off the patient, you, the assistant or technician should greet the patient and thank the receptionist. If the sincere smile and eye contact work for patients, imagine how these things will work for staff.

Purchases: You've just corrected a patient's vision to 20/20 and saved him money with an annual supply of contact lenses. Now, give the patient a thank you, and he'll interpret it as a continuation of your first-class service.

The key is sincerity. Make eye contact, smile and say the words as though you're talking to a best friend, not reciting a script.

Where does it end?

We've only touched on a few areas and yet you've already showered the patient with thank you's. There's no need to stop. During testing, at the hand-off to the optician, when the patient pays a bill — these are all excellent times to show thanks. You probably can think of scores of other examples.

The thank you's become infectious among staff members, which can boost morale, and patients are genuinely impressed by a courteous, friendly atmosphere. It's an inexpensive way to create the WOW factor.

You might even find a patient or two who thanks you in return. OM



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2007