Exceeding Patient Expectations
What do your patients want? Make yourself known for catering to them.
Jerry Hayes, O.D.
Last month I explained the importance of creating a positive image, or brand, for your practice. It's the feeling people get when they think about you or your practice.
If you've been in your community for any length of time, local eyecare consumers already have a mental image of you. And to a large degree, that image determines your current success in private practice.
Without knowing you or your town, I can say with some level of certainty that if you're grossing $400,000 or more each year, you have an above average brand image. By the same token, if you're grossing less than the national average of $350,000, then your brand needs some work.
Plan to please your patients
To find out how to improve your reputation, let's look at Avis Rental Car -- a recent winner of the J. D. Power's customer satisfaction survey and the Brand Keys loyalty leader in the rental car category for 4 years running.
First off, you'd be wrong if you said Avis used fancy marketing and public relations schemes. In fact, it only spent $9 million on advertising last year -- compared to market leader Hertz's $53 million.
In Avis's own words, it built a great brand loyalty by analyzing each area of the car rental process and by focusing on how customers felt about how Avis managed its business in those areas.
Avis then made changes designed to please its renters. Could you take the same steps in your own practice? Just think of the steps a patient goes through to do business with you:
- Call to make an appointment
- Come in and register
- Get insurance or credit approved
- Sit in the waiting room
- Provide a case history
- Go through a pre exam
- Sit through a doctor's exam
- Listen to the doctor's diagnosis and case presentation
- Consider eyewear or treatment recommendations
- Select eyewear
- Wait for delivery of eyewear
- Dispensing of eyewear
- Work with doctor to resolve complaints or problems.
Adding finesse to the process
Sit down with your staff and make your own list of the steps that patients go through in your office. Then see how many ideas you can come up with to improve each step of your customer service.
Once you've done that, formalize the process by writing down the action that constitutes good customer service for each step so that you and your staff are always on the same page. Criteria for each step should be fairly detailed, such as answer the phone on three rings, greet every patient who comes in the door within 30 seconds, offer every patient two selections in lens types, call every new contact lens wearer 2 days after dispensing, etc.
Roll with the changes
The Avis story proves that even simple changes can go a long way to enhance your reputation. The trick is to find out what your patients want at each step of your office procedure. Change your practice when they change. Follow these simple tips and you'll have a great reputation as well as an outstanding practice.
A FREQUENT WRITER AND SPEAKER ON PRACTICE MANAGEMENT ISSUES, DR. HAYES IS THE FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR OF HAYES CONSULTING. YOU CAN REACH HIM AT (800) 588-9636 OR
Optometric Management, Issue: October 2002