Article Date: 10/1/2011

The President Sends a Message

The President Sends a Message

A few simple questions can be the start of a stronger bond with your patients.

From The Editorial Director
Jim Thomas

Would offering patients a more personalized level of service help to build your practice? Taking an example from the software industry, when you download Sandvox website developing software, you receive an e-mail “thank you” from company president Dan Wood. He also asks how you like the software and introduces you to an online users' forum and additional software tools. How's that for making a first impression?

Granted all customers probably receive this note of gratitude, which was generated automatically by a software program. You're probably not impressed. Neither was I—that is, until I received a second e-mail that asked, “What kind of website are you planning on building?”

A direct connection to the top

The company president wants to learn more about my experience with his product? (If only airlines or phone companies would ask. I'd have so much to say—little of it appropriate for print.) The e-mail impressed me, and I was happy to reply.

More impressive, the next day I received an e-mail from another company representative who thanked me for my reply and provided links to websites that were similar to the one I was developing. She also introduced me to a site where other “Sandvoxers” list their creations. The result: I was hooked on the software.

Building a loyal community

Organizations have built user communities through Yelp, Facebook or their own websites. With these, the customer experience goes beyond the one- to five-star rating system. They provide intelligence about the organizations, including recommendations and specific criticisms. Perhaps most important, they foster a sense of community that leads to a loyal base of customers.

What if, on the same day as their visit, your patients received an e-mail (or a phone call) from you, their optometrist, which asked them about their experience? What if that e-mail was tailored to their specific needs (keeping in mind patient confidentiality and security issues)? For example: “Let me know how your new polarized sunglasses are performing.” Would such an e-mail help create a stronger bond between you and your patients? Would it help you learn more about the products you dispense/ prescribe, so that you could gain a better understanding of your patients' needs?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then the first step to building a community of loyal patients may be as close as an e-mail program (or phone call) away. OM

Optometric Management, Issue: October 2011