How to Get Your Patients to Love You and Your Practice
October 19, 2016
The title of this article is meant to attract your interest, along with the corollary I could have used as a subhead: “How to get your staff to love working for you.” After all, if I could show you a way to achieve both of those characteristics, you would have the essence of a very successful practice! What if there was a thing you could do that would achieve that? You could keep growing those two factors by continuing to do the “thing”. It would be brilliant. It might be the best business strategy in the history of business!
I actually think I know the thing that achieves these amazing results. I learned it over many years of operating my own practice and studying ways to increase patient loyalty and improve our organizational culture for employees. I studied it further in business school but still did not quite get it at first. I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I will share it with you here and hopefully save you a lot of time and effort.
You have to love them first.
That is really it. That really is all there is to it. You have to love your patients first and they will love you back. And you have to love your staff first and they will love you back. For the most part, anyway. There are always outliers in any experiment.
Many optometrists never take the chance and allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to really feel that way toward their patients. In a way, I’m talking about customer service taken to a much higher level than we normally see in optometric practice. I’m referring to the practice that says yes even when the patient is being unreasonable. I’m referring to the practice that lets the patient win almost all the time. Many practice owners and managers can’t stand the feeling of being taken advantage of, so they hold firm and say no. They think they are doing the right thing. They don’t realize that extreme customer service is strategic. It is in the best interest of the practice in the long run.
Many optometrists never ask themselves: “What is so great about working in my office?” They never think about job satisfaction and why should employees be happy and smile all day. Most ODs don’t really see the job from the employee’s point of view. The paycheck is certainly the main reason why people work, but truly loving a job goes way beyond the pay. It goes to the culture of the organization which is largely based on respect and appreciation. It turns out that to build a great staff, the leaders of the organization must act as if they like the employees! It is even better if you really do like them! You need to show them in various ways. Who knew?
You may wonder why you need to show the love first. Why can’t patients love you and your practice and behave the way you prefer and then you’ll give them excellent eye care and treat them well? Why can’t your staff behave the way you have trained them and then you’ll give them their due rewards? It took me a long time figure out that it just does not work that way. I think it is because, as the doctor and the employer, you are the leader in both of these relationships and the culture is always created by the leader.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.