As for me, I’ll take raving fans
Several readers have asked me to elaborate on this statement from my March column (“Create Your Dream Customer”):
“Early on in practice, I did what others told me, followed past trends and let insurance plans dictate my choices. I reaped patients or customers who were not loyal, wanted only what their insurance covered and didn’t refer. Eventually, I realized I created the customer that was my worst nightmare.”
Let’s start at the beginning. With my new practice, I received much well-intended advice, such as: Take every insurance (or managed care) plan. Don’t fit too many contact lenses because, after all, they aren’t profitable, and patients won’t like them. Buy and fit the lowest-cost products to yield the largest profit margin. And my favorite: Don’t read your insurance contracts — they will only depress you. Instead, offer only what the insurance covers, and patients will be happy.
I followed some of this advice, and soon wondered why my patients and employees were not the “raving fans” author Ken Blanchard describes in his book, Raving Fans. I began my quest for raving fans (not merely satisfied patients), which taught me valuable lessons, for example:
READ EVERY CONTRACT
I began to read every contract. If I didn’t like the terms, and negotiating changes was not an option, I would make the decision that was right — that is, terms that were good for both my patients and my business. If I accepted the terms, I then read the manual to learn how to provide the best materials and care within the plan’s guidelines. In many cases, the insurance was not the problem. Rather, the issue was my lack of understanding of the contract and manual.
UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF CLs
Contact lenses are actually of great value to my patients. Those who wear the modality I most recommend are compliant, have few contact lens-related complications, return to the office regularly, exhibit consistently good vision, and (they report) a high quality of life. These patients often purchase an annual supply, as well as glasses. They provide word-of-mouth referrals. They understand the value of proper eye care and eyewear because they have experienced it.
To respect patient’s time and maximize the value of each visit, we schedule to stay on time. We buy technology for the value it brings to patients and our practice, not for the reimbursement.
In my practice, we decided long ago that creating raving fans would be our goal. It has taken us time to learn the best ways to create them, and we understand and love that the learning will never be over.
Is the journey worth the effort? To quote from Good to Great, by Jim Collins “ . . . those who strive to turn good into great find the process no more painful or exhausting than those who settle for just letting things wallow along in mind-numbing mediocrity. . . Conversely, perpetuating mediocrity is an inherently depressing process and drains much more energy out of the pool than it puts back in.” OM