Every business provides a product or a service. Products are consumed; services are experienced. Technicians in eyecare practitioner offices provide patients with an experience. Whether the patient you just helped returns to your practice again or refers others to your practice depends on the quality of his experience.
Why should it matter to you whether your patients have a good experience? The reality is patients have a choice of where to go for their medical care. If your patient doesn’t have a great experience—or worse yet has a bad experience—he won’t be your patient for very long.
Your job security is directly related to the success of your practice, which means the quality of experience you provide the patient is directly related to your job security.
Practices must continually drive new patients in the door in order to maintain a constant patient load. Marketing, professional referrals, and good word of mouth brings them in the door. After that, it’s up to you whether they stay or they don’t.
Providing a positive and memorable experience for your patient is the key to long-term success in your career. “Success in your career” does not simply refer to financial rewards or promotions. While these are all important, they are not what I would consider to be true success.
True career success comes from the deep satisfaction you’ll have when you bring your personal best to everything you do—including your customer service skills. When you practice the 10 steps outlined in this article, you’ll take your job to a whole other level—one that allows you to provide a phenomenal patient experience.
1. Know who is the boss
Who do you work for? If you think you work for your doctor or your clinic, think again. Your employer handles money and manages practice resources; however, you work for the patient. The patient is your boss and the very reason you are there.
We have all heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to create a first impression.” That opportunity comes when a new patient calls the office or walks through the office door. Look into incorporating simple, yet powerful strategies to wow new patients and leave a positive, lasting impression they will share with their family and friends.
2. Manage difficult situations and patients with finesse
We have all dealt with patients who are difficult—the patient with 10 pairs of glasses or the patient who is difficult to fit into the slit lamp. Those who work with the public must know how to interact with a wide variety of people in a positive manner. Employers consistently say they value staff who demonstrate good interpersonal skills.
It’s important to realize the patient doesn’t intend to be annoying or a problem. You are not there to win, and it’s not your job to have an opinion about the patient. The patient is there for a service.
Overlook annoyances and don’t take personally things the patient says or does no matter how they come across to you. Focus on problem solving. Be empathetic (sensitive, compassionate) and sympathetic (understanding), and get the job done.
3. Stay ultra aware of time
Excessive waits are one of the most frequent complaints about doctors’ offices. While we cannot always prevent excessive waits, it is every team member’s responsibility to do their part to limit the amount of wait time the patient experiences.
Most patients will tolerate a 15-minute wait without complaint, but once the 15-minute mark is crossed, most people begin to get antsy and wonder how much longer the wait will be. After 30 minutes have passed, many patients will begin getting irritated and might even wonder if they have been forgotten.
This is why early intervention is important.
Avoid a clock in the waiting area. Watching the clock continually will make the time seem to go by much more slowly than it actually does.
Let patients know approximately how much longer their wait will be. When a patient will be the next to be seen, let him know. This will “reset the clock” in his head. The wait will seem shorter, and he will tolerate it better than if he is not given an update while he waits.
Front desk personnel must constantly be aware of patients’ wait time. If a patient waits more than 15 minutes past his appointment time, get an idea of how much longer the wait will be and let the patient know. Again, this will “reset the clock.”
4. Keep up to date
Have you ever been a patron in a place of business in which it was clear to you that the staff wasn’t knowledgeable about the products or services they offered? Did you feel confident in this place of business, or did it make you want to go a competitor?
Patients trust staff members who are knowledgeable and passionate about what they do. We owe it to our patients to bring our very best to every patient encounter. Doing so will increase your patients’ satisfaction with your practice.
The key to becoming more knowledgeable is to read. Read everything you can get your hands on about eye care. Every person in the practice, including front office staff, must have a thorough knowledge of ophthalmic anatomy, physiology, terminology, and basic eye diseases. See “Additional resources” box for more.
5. Use amazing phone skills
I’m always impressed when I call a place of business, and the person who answers the phone sounds as if my call has been the only call she has answered all day.
Many physicians’ practices get 100 or more calls a day. When you answer the phone, listen to the tone and pace of your greeting. Ask yourself if it sounds like you’re answering the phone for the hundredth time that day or if it sounds like it is the first time.
1.Luca M, Vats S. Digitizing Doctor Demand: The Impact of Online Reviews on Doctor
Choice. Available at: https://www.aeaweb.org/conference/2014/retrieve.php?pdfid=55. Accessed 5/23/18.