Article Date: 8/1/2002

view from the top
Stepping Up Your Service
Bring more patients into your office by customizing the care you provide.
Gary Gerber, O.D.

I'm sure you've noticed that patients today have more places to choose from to get their eyes examined than say, 10 years ago. Not only that, but they also have more options as to where they can buy contact lenses and glasses. So it's not surprising that the most common question I hear as a consultant is, "With all of the practices out there essentially doing similar things, how can I convince a patient to choose me as his doctor?"

ILLUSTRATION BY DEBRA DIXON

Are you any different?

First you need to accept that in the eyes of a patient, most clinical procedures seem the same. But consider that if you ask a patient, "Which is better, one or two?" and I ask the patient, "Which is better, one or two?" he doesn't have much to go on when asked, "Who's the better doctor?"

It's for this reason that I've differentiated most of my clients' practices not by the tests that they perform, but by the environment in which they perform them. I instruct them to make their practices so customer service friendly that patients can't help but remember their experiences in the practice and share it with their friends.

Examples in individuality

One of my client's offices had horrible parking -- until we hired a valet service. Another client's office is on the second floor of a building that has no elevator. To assist patients who have trouble navigating stairs, we instituted a "curb-side" dispensing system.

Some of my clients have office concierges. One of the responsibilities this person has is to pour coffee. More importantly, he notes in the patient's record how she likes her coffee. So when Mrs. Harris returns next year, the concierge will know that she likes her coffee with cream and sugar.

Some of my clients offer a selection of music in the exam room while a patient waits for them. A staffer notes the patient's selection in his chart and plays it in the exam room at his next visit.

Some of my clients hand their patients a pager that beeps when their glasses are ready. That way, patients don't have to wait in the office. Alternatively, some simply call a patient's cell phone number.

Other O.D.s offer new contact lens patients an eyeglass case before the eye exam. After all, if a patient leaves with his new contact lenses, he'll need a case for his glasses.

It's the combination of these and other tasks that forms what I call the "event." This event becomes more memorable for patients than flipping lenses in your phoroptor. It's the event that nearly forces patients to tell their friends, not about their eye exam, but about the office where they had their eye exam.

Lastly, taking an idea from five-star hotels, my clients and I have worked with their staffs to recognize that something as simple as changing the common phrase, "No problem" to "My pleasure" enhances the quality of the event.

Departing from the ordinary

No matter how my clients have chosen to set themselves apart from their competition, their patients have become true referral evangelists. As an added plus, these doctors continue to exhibit significant increases in profit by focusing on unique practice growing strategies.

Are you any different than your competition? If not, personalize your office so patients will choose you and tell their friends and families to do the same -- and grow your practice at the same time!

DR. GERBER IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE POWER PRACTICE, A COMPANY WHOSE MISSION IS TO MAKE OPTOMETRISTS MORE PROFITABLE. LEARN MORE AT WWW.POWERPRACTICE.COM OR CALL DR. GERBER AT 800-867-9303.

 



Optometric Management, Issue: August 2002