Article

BUSINESS: MERCHANDISING

MISTAKES HAPPEN

AND WHEN THEY OCCUR, HERE’S HOW TO TURN THE “WHOOPS” INTO A “WOW”

IT’S HAPPENED to all of us: That dreaded pit in your stomach, clenched fist, slap to the forehead, “Oh!” when we make a mistake with a patient. It can be inconsequential or substantial, but, perhaps, we would be better off to view mistakes as opportunities to correct and wow with humility. We save vision every day, but we are human after all.

Here are some examples of how I’ve turned a “whoops” into a “wow.”

YOUR CONTACT LENSES HAVE NOT ARRIVED

We ship almost all our contact lens orders directly to patients. With hundreds of orders per year, there are bound to be one or two that don’t get delivered. Most patients are flexible, but others need adequate lens supplies for upcoming trips or events.

When this problem happens, we personally deliver lenses to the home or hand-deliver diagnostic trial lenses ASAP. Most people don’t expect this service, and it shows them we do care.

YOUR GLASSES AREN’T IN. . .

. . . And it’s been three weeks. I know, the patient who’s in the biggest hurry to get their glasses usually has to wait the longest, due to the most complicated prescription in the most delicate of frames. Between not passing quality inspections at the lab and frame breakage, you feel like you are delivering disappointment on a frame tray.

I find constant communication here is key. Let the patient know you are on top of the order and why it’s taking so long. Make dispensing of that fateful pair a priority. Be cognizant of what the patient wants: more attention to servicing that pair, or is he just grateful to get the glasses and be gone? At my practice, we also give the patient credit on future services or products, depending on the purchase and delay.

YOU SAY YOU HAVE AN APPOINTMENT. . .

. . . But you don’t.

Although your office attempted to confirm your pre-appointed patient four times before you finally notified him you would have to cancel the appointment, said patient is at your office for that auspicious appointment. Oh, and you have fully double-booked around that same slot, so squeezing him in is not an option.

In this situation, we try to make it work, sometimes by sending patients off to the neighboring restaurant or coffee shop with a gift card from us to while away the time. However, there are days when we just can’t fit them in. This is where records of communication and going over preferred communication options with the patient are key. You may find out you had an old email address or their phone number is their spouse’s, who didn’t relay all the reminder messages you sent. Bend over backwards to find something that will work for them, and apologize. Yes, it’s not your fault, but being sorry for the situation can still be a genuine emotion.

Just because someone experiences a mistake in your office doesn’t mean you can’t turn it around and make it a marketing gem. Get your patients talking about you positively in the good, bad and “sorry” situations. OM