Positive patient interactions can go a long way; invest time to create them
We all want our patients to have positive experiences with our practices, staff, eye care and contact lens services. After all, if patients have negative experiences, they will not come back, and will tell friends and family about that bad experience. If they have a neutral experience, they may or may not come back. Additionally, those neutral-experience patients are easily persuaded to go elsewhere. A positive experience is obviously the goal. Those positive-experience patients will not only keep coming back, but may also become huge referral sources.
Here are ideas to help optometrists improve the contact lens experience.
PLAY THE PATIENT
Look at an encounter from a patient perspective to orchestrate this positive experience. This action step can guide the O.D.’s experiential marketing or what her patients/potential patients feel about the brand. Optometrists are creating an experience for patients that could include their interactions with doctors and staff, the ability to test or try on products, the results from the services received, etc. In other words, this is everything that has to do with the experience they have with the practice. O.D.s can experience this for themselves or have an outsider do it to see where their practices can do better.
PATIENT EXPERIENCE CHECKLIST
When putting yourself into the patient’s shoes, make sure to take into account all of the little details, including appealing to multiple senses.
→ Efficiency (no wasted steps)
→ Attitudes and friendliness of staff and doctors
FOCUS ON INFRASTRUCTURE
We all like that immediate satisfaction, so it is important to send patients home with their new contact lenses and care products (if needed) on the same day as their exams. If the optometrist’s diagnostic fitting lenses are not fully stocked or he doesn’t have the necessary care products, the patient will have to wait for this part of their eye care to be completed. Having stock is especially important if the O.D. fits a lot of daily disposable lenses: He doesn’t want patients to run out of lenses prior to follow-up appointments.
MAKE THE PRESENTATION NICE
Consider having a carry-home bag — maybe look for a unique branded bag — that the patient leaves the practice with, containing their contact lens products. Those little touches make a big positive impression on patients, leaving a lasting memory.
MINIMIZE FOLLOW-UP APPOINTMENTS
Our patients are just as busy as everyone else. They really do not want to keep coming back for contact lens follow-up appointments unless they are really necessary. Optometrists should have the protocol ready for ordering and exchanges. Most of the manufacturers have a warranty period on their contact lenses. As a result, O.D.s should have good relationships with their distributors or manufacturers in case they need to change something early on and exchange even opened boxes. This makes it easy for patients to order their lenses through the practice and provides that extra piece of mind to patients.
MAINTAIN THOSE LITTLE TOUCHES
It’s the little things that patients remember. Consider visiting another popular retail store, watching how they handle customer service and applying those principles to your contact lens business to improve the experience of obtaining contact lenses. OM