Article Date: 9/1/2013

New Ways to Reach Patients
merchandising tech

New Ways to Reach Patients

Distinguish your practice through high-tech merchandising strategies.

images

APRIL JASPER, O.D.

Using technology for merchandising demonstrates that your practice truly is distinctive. This is important, as patients are looking for places to shop that provide a unique product and/or service.

Here are the opportunities for you to utilize technology for merchandising and create a strategy that yields profits.

During first encounters

Merchandising begins with the first contact our patients have with our office, which could be by phone or online. To ensure a positive first encounter on the phone, have your team role-play specific scenarios involving commonly asked questions and videotape their responses. This gives each member of the team the opportunity to practice the message in his/her own style and watch the video to learn where he/she can improve.

“On-hold” technology is very useful in promoting new services and products during those rare moments when a patient is placed on hold. For example, I love talking about corneal reshaping technology and newly released contact lenses, as well as the frame lines we carry. This technology is also a great way to promote specialty areas of your practice, such as low vision or vision therapy. Be sure to regularly update these messages to keep them fresh.

On your website

Many shoppers that we once thought were “showrooming” are really just searching for more information on the products they are looking to purchase — most often within the brick-and-mortar store, says recent research (www.retailcustomerexperience.com).

Videos are one way to give your patients this information on your website. Several vendors offer low-cost opportunities to make high-tech personalized videos about your office, products and services.

Also, include plenty of photos for a patient-friendly website that is easy to navigate, and make certain your contact information is on every page to enhance your patient’s ability to make an appointment once he/she is done browsing.

Along with appointment confirmations

Collect e-mail addresses when patients make appointments so you can send confirmations through your electronic patient communication system. This allows you to add marketing information, such as a link or QR code, that takes them to a video welcoming them to the office or to information on new products such as a contact lens or frame. Patients will arrive at the office already interested in what you have to sell.

In your front window

Patient education software on a flat screen TV with closed captioning or outdoor speakers in the window of the office encourages people to stop and window shop, especially after hours.

Educate people about your practice and what makes you different. Make certain your office’s web address and phone number are posted somewhere obvious to encourage patients to call for appointments.

Don’t forget the basics

Remember: If your surroundings aren’t pristine, it doesn’t matter that your office is high-tech. Don’t forget the old but trusty merchandising “technology”: a vacuum, mop and dust rag. OM

DR. JASPER IS IN PRIVATE PRACTICE IN WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. E-MAIL HER AT DRJASPER@AESWPB.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: September 2013, page(s): 64