Customer Service: How to Say Yes (Even if Your Office Policy Says No)
October 28, 2015
My tip article last week was all about how to say no to patients (even though we try not to). It is certainly much easier to say yes, but what if your staff member already told this patient no? Or what if you have a written office policy that states something is not allowed? Should you go against that?
Customer service and the patient experience are so important to the success of your practice that I favor letting the patient win, even if we already said no. But that can be awkward if you are going against a staff member who was just following the office policy.
How to say yes
I like to find a specific phrase that we can use in special circumstances to get my managers and staff started in the right direction. Here is one that works wonders in our office when we want to let the patient win, but we also want to acknowledge our policy. We simply say we are going to make an exception in this case. We say this quite often in our practice.
It lets the patient know he is important to us.
It lets our staff member save face for having said no to the patient, but is now being overruled.
It informs the patient that we can’t do it this way again in the future.
Why have a policy if you are going to say yes?
I don’t like to flood the patient with policies that seem negative, but having some handouts, discreet signage or some policies printed on the back of your walkout receipt is a good practice. Having some rules about refunds, insurance billing, appointment cancellation or Rx rechecks helps to gain cooperation from the vast majority of patients. It also helps give our staff some guidelines on how to handle difficult situations. Printed policies serve as a resource.
I don’t feel badly about making an exception for the small number of patients who do not feel our policies are fair or who feel they warrant special consideration. I’d rather make the patient happy and loyal to our practice then stand on policy.
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.