Article Date: 9/1/2011

Marketing Begins With the Details
marketing fundamentals

Marketing Begins With the Details

A few simple customer service steps can rejuvenate your marketing efforts.

Leah Colby, O.D.

“Marketing 101 starts with Customer Service 101.” I'm not sure who first said this, but it's true. One of the cheapest, easiest ways to market your practice is to focus on the little details of customer service. This month's column identifies a few details of the patient's first impression that project how much you care about your patient's experience in your office.

Little details

Your practice's internal climate sets the stage for the impression that remains with patients long after they visit. Therefore, “sweat the small stuff” because, often, a culmination of the little things can change an impression. Begin by taking 10 minutes to “check-in” as a patient would, and experience the following four areas:

Parking lot/exterior building. Maintain an appearance that is both inviting and professional. If you don't have control over the parking lot and building upkeep, then “wow” patients when they open your door.

For example, my favorite hair-stylist recently moved to a dilapidated strip mall. When I pulled up for an appointment, my first thought was to turn and run. However, the moment I walked in, I found the atmosphere clean, calming and professional.

Ensure that your entrance is inviting. You can set this stage with something as simple as well-maintained pots of flowers.

Front desk. Get rid of the clutter on your reception desk, and avoid over-marketing. Yep, I said over-marketing. Patients are sooo incredibly inundated with logos and messages that sometimes less is more … more professional.

I declined to have our logo embossed on the walk-off matt for our second location. Why? We have three awnings with logos, a back-lit sign on the exterior of the building and our name and hours on the front door. If patients haven't figured out where they are when they reach the matt, well, then perhaps they really do need an eye exam.

Don't overlook paperwork. Is it redundant? Can it be condensed? Has it been copied so many times that the text is crooked and faded? At sign-in, are patients handed pens from a local Holiday Inn? We have good quality pens. Yes, these have our logo and website on them, but that's for when patients accidentally “steal” them and leave them at a local restaurant (a cross-marketing opportunity). I haven't heard of a patient who made an appointment because he saw my pen at Applebees, but it could happen.

Reception area. Take a moment to sit in your chairs. Are they comfortable? Have years of dust accumulated in the corners of the cushions? Do you have updated and pertinent magazines? Old magazines send the message that you are out of date. Do you offer music? TV? Coffee, water or tea? These help set the tone that you care how patients feel.

Bathrooms. Spot check the bathroom daily to make sure no paper is on the floor, the soap dispenser is full, the paper towels and toilet paper are stocked and the sink is clean. This lets patients know you care about cleanliness and hygiene.

Looking at the small stuff at the beginning of your patients' experience sets the precedent that you care about the details, like how sharp they will see when they leave your office. OM


DR. COLBY OPERATES EYEWEST VISION CLINIC AND OPTICAL IN ROGERS, MINN. SHE WAS NAMED THE “YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR” BY THE MINNESOTA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.

Optometric Management, Issue: September 2011