Years ago, I was invited to take a course at Disney World called The Disney Institute. Upon graduation you get your own "Mickey Ears", which I still wear proudly. If you ever get an invitation to go, it will be the best money and time you ever spent. What this course teaches you is what Disney does differently than others to make them so successful and how to implement if in your office. What I loved so much about this course is most of the concepts are very common-sense concepts that easily can be put into use at your office at no cost. One of the instructors, Dr. Dave Zeigler, put it in a way that was easy to understand. I think of Dr. Zeigler almost every day and thank him every time I see him because this has helped to make my practice what it is today. Thank you again, Dave!
The bottom line, take away pearl of this is so simple...treat every person that walks through your door, calls you on the phone or emails you as family...WOW, what a concept. You have heard this many times before but do you believe it and practice it? Not just you but every staff and doctor in your office. I am constantly reminding everyone of this simple concept. I am going to go through steps that outline what we do to make our patients have a Disney Experience but first, let's think about Disney and their marketing techniques. From the minute I walk through the gates I leave the outside world and am transformed to the "magical place". Each employee is always happy, always smiling and will do anything to make your experience magical. Some examples: as you walk down Main Street, the street actually becomes narrower and pulls you toward the castle. Disney actually pumps different smells into Main Street to help you to be hungry. Walking out, the streets are wider, giving you a feeling of wanting to shop. Interesting, isn't it? Their members are trained to always keep guests happy. They told a story that goes on every day; if a child spills or does something to their outfit that would cause the parents to leave, they are authorized to buy them an outfit. Think of this...a family spent all that money and are leaving angry...a random act of kindness and boy, will those parents tell everyone what Disney did for them. This is just one example of how a Disney experience can change a guest's attitude. Remember this in your office. Doing something simple will leave a lasting impression with your patients. In my office if anyone comes in to get their glasses adjusted we never charge, and we will also replace their nose pads. This random act of kindness doesn't cost me much, and it is especially appreciated by our older patients who are on a fixed income. Another example is giving our contact lens patients a sample of a starter kit. In today's world of generic solutions, this is a great way to show your patients there is a difference in what you offer. Contact lens companies appreciate us doing this, too. It's a win-win-win.
Now let's talk about how to implement the Disney experience into your office. It starts with the web site. We had our virtual office manager (Eyecare Pro) design our site to be inviting and personal. You can get a virtual tour of the office, download forms, answer your questions and meet the staff. I also put my cell phone number on the web site, and on every email I send. I can count on one hand the times this has been abused but I cannot even count the times I get a call and answer it and the patient is shocked and excited when I do. My favorite comeback is: do you give your family your cell number? Well this is my family and I want them to have my cell number. Next is the phone call. Every team member is asked to answer the phone before the third ring, if at all possible, including myself. I want our patients to talk to a human, not a machine. A personal touch makes the difference. The next step is communicating with them about their appointment. In today's world there are many ways to communicate appointment reminders with our patients and we do it all: email, text and call. No-shows are always the most frustrating part of a practice so this helps to keep that at a minimum. When the patient walks through the door make sure to greet them with a smile. We also have a coffee bar with a Keurig serving many different kinds of coffee, tea and hot chocolate, along with water. We have found this is a wonderful way to relax our patients and make them feel at home. We also have many different current magazines for them to choose from. If we see them interested in a certain one, we offer to give it to them―most of the time they do not take it but that offer again makes them feel at ease. All this is done before they are even brought back to start their true experience, but it sets the tone for a happy, positive experience. Something to remember is a happy patient spends more money...we are still a business. When the phone rings everyone is instructed to answer it before the third ring, including the doctors. We also have a human answering it, not a machine, and put a name with the voice. Always think of how you would like to be treated. The staff is instructed to leave their personal emotions at home.
Think of the last time you were at the Magic Kingdom and a cast member was not smiling. A happy mood is contagious and addictive―try it. That includes me. When I walk into the exam room I always introduce myself and start off by asking about them and making it personal before starting the professional eye exam. This is how family starts a conversation. Just remember, every time you walk into your office, every time you walk into the exam lane, and every time anybody in your office interacts with a patient, to think about what kind of Disney Experience you are providing. You will see the results and your business will reap the rewards.
Eric White, OD is the owner of Complete Family Vision Care Optometry in San Diego, CA. He is a clinical investigator for several contact lens companies having participated on over 420 clinical studies. Dr. White has published several articles on contact lenses and given numerous talks on contact lenses, eye safety, computer vision syndrome and practice management. Dr. White was awarded the 2012 Transitions National Eyecare Practice of the Year, the 2014 Vision Monday Innovator of the Year, the 2015 Transitions Ambassador of the Year and the 2017 San Diego County Optometrist of the Year. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.