Better service, happier patients
The result of the changes my practice implemented was that patients were blown away.
Not only were they getting better materials than they had had before, they could not believe the speed of delivery. Getting a product while they waited closed the sale many times.
As an example, we had an employee from Amazon go bonkers when we made his glasses in 10 minutes, then he referred his mother. She came in the same day after canceling her appointment at an optical that used to offer same-day service. This started a chain reaction of referrals and new patients coming into the practice.
We added our same-day service pledge to our website, which we updated with online appointment scheduling and optimized for mobile viewing.
Streamlining our optical, adding online appointments, and providing same-day service freed up staff time. We were able to increase the number of appointments we booked every day by 25 percent, which further improved our bottom line.
I then turned my attention to the contact lens side of my practice.
It would sometimes take several days to a week to obtain trial lenses and patient supplies, and patients did not appreciate the wait. The result was that many patients took their contact lens prescriptions elsewhere.
Fortunately, our contact lens distributor was bought out by a larger distributor, and we began receiving our contact lenses within 24 hours.
I then found a company that would put a store page on my website to allow my patients to order their contact lenses online 24 hours a day. Patients were able to have the lenses shipped to their homes. We have increased the number of patients who purchase contact lenses from the practice instead of from online contact lens retailers.
The next step, which I thank many ODs don’t think about, was expanding my professional skills.
I learned how to fit scleral lenses for keratoconus, irregular corneas, and dry eye. I also learned how to fit orthokeratology (ortho-k) lenses and contact lenses for myopia control. We have gained several patients in these specialties who are no longer referred out.
I have discovered that some patients are considering refractive surgery, but they don’t mention it to us until we discuss ortho-k. Patients are excited there is a nonsurgical way to correct their refractive error for about one-third the cost of refractive surgery.
One area of customer service all ODs could improve is taking good care of staff.
We put in standing desks to ease computer strain, and we added a microwave, refrigerator, and coffee station so they would not have to waste their lunch hours running out for food.
I performed ortho-k on one staff member, and she is ecstatic to be out of glasses for the first time since she was 11 years old.
We want staff to be happy and with the practice long term. Enthusiastic staff is necessary for a practice to deliver the best service, and this aspect is often overlooked.
In summary, every decision I made over the past 14 months was about one thing: making it easier and more exciting to do business with my office. The results have been spectacular, with all money invested recovered in the first six months.
Customer service is a great strategy to implement these days because many businesses deliver poor customer service.
An optometric practice focused on customer service charges more, but its patients feel the difference. It takes a lot of work to consistently provide exceptional service, but the results are happier staff, patients, and ODs with the practice now a high-energy, exciting place to work.
Consider upping customer service in your practice.
|About the author
Frederick A. Frost, OD, is in private practice in Zanesville, OH
In his free time, Dr. Frost enjoys inspiring fellow optometrists and spending time with his family. Dr. Frost has no disclosures.