BUSINESS: Strategies

How Do You Handle FAQs?

Eliminate patient stress by having staff ready to answer questions

My dog, Bear, and I recently moved from New Jersey to California. When asking whether a dog can fly across country, you might think an airline would answer “yes” or “no.” It’s not that simple. Let me just say that if you ever have to fly a large dog (more than 85 pounds) across the country, contact me. I’ve become an expert.


Here are just a few of my action steps: Contact Delta Airlines to see which flights will use an Airbus A330-300 (note that 757 with winglets might be suggested, but it won’t work). You might not get the flight you want. For example, if you want to fly from Newark, NJ, to San Diego, you might have to fly from New York to Los Angeles.

Your big dog won’t fit in the biggest crate available from any retailer. Instead, get it custom built to FAA standards. Since your dog won’t be joining you on the plane, get him or her to the cargo area four hours before departure. And don’t forget that the crate won’t fit in even the largest SUV and that it weighs at least 120 pounds, so ship the crate directly to a kennel near the airport, and the kennel will transport your dog to the airport. Did I mention that within 10 days of the flight, you will need to get an acclimation certificate from your veterinarian?

Why not drive? Bear doesn’t like long drives. He would be in the car for about five to six days, which would be more stressful than a five-hour plane ride.

Dr. Gerber overcame several challenges in moving Bear (above).
Photo courtesy of Dr. Gary Gerber


If you’re wondering what this story may have to do with your practice, it’s simple: The entire process of having my dog join me on my move was made more stressful than it should have been because of an airline employee who gave me incorrect information, initially: “Yes, he can fly in his own crate on the flight you want from Newark to San Diego.”

Once I realized the mistake, I had only a few days to figure out all the above. If it weren’t for my research, I would have shown up at the wrong airport, on the wrong day, after selling my house, with no way to board the wrong plane.

In your practice, patients will have a number of frequently asked questions, such as “Do you take my insurance?” “What time do you close?” “How much do Brand X contact lenses cost?” “When will my glasses be ready?” “Which pharmacy has this eye drop?” All these questions appear to be no more difficult than, “Can you fly my Great Pyrenees from Newark to San Diego?” When answered correctly the first time, regardless of who takes the call, you eliminate significant patient stress, as in, “You said on the phone that you took my insurance and now you’re saying you don’t?” “Your door was locked at 5:15. You said you’d be there until 5:30, and I left work early to rush over.”


It might not seem like an issue, since you routinely deal with these FAQs, but it is imperative to ensure your team is all on the same page when answering them. Because these questions are indeed “frequent,” they can become white noise to a staff member who might not take the extra picosecond needed to ensure they’re answered with 100% accuracy. And in that picosecond, you can lose a patient forever and potentially deal with a firestorm of bad social media reviews.

In case you’re wondering, Bear is loving California life. OM