5 Keys to Incredible Customer Service - E19
In case you were wondering, we are in a profession that is dependent on patients and the majority of optometrists are not referral clinics. That means we need to not only provide state of the art eye care, we need to provide amazing customer service.
Did you know that 86% of people quit a business after a bad experience. That’s not multiple bad experiences, that’s just one! In order to not have this be an issue at your office I am going to suggest you apply the following 5 principles (2 P’s and 3 C’s) to keep your patients happy and coming back year after year.
You are not a huge corporation, you are a privately owned small business that has the ability to adapt and adjust on the fly. As a result, take advantage and personalize your policies to your patients needs. You need to have policies in place, but do not let a policy make you deliver a poor patient experience. Example: I ran into this earlier this month when a patient came back 4 months after their contact lens exam and complained that her left eye was blurry. Her glasses were fine and she had already ordered a year's supply. It started off fine and only recently changed. I could have rested on policy and said sorry, but we cannot return open boxes. Instead I made an exception and adjusted her left eye (reduced the Rx by -0.25) and got her contacts to replace the ones she had left.
I do not care if this is in regards to verifying insurance or calling them after dispensing glasses or contacts to see if they have any questions, you need to be a step ahead of anything your patients may need. We do this constantly at our office. Some examples include every day calling our lab to tickle and check on glasses (lenses) on order, verifying insurances well before the patients exam (and notifying them if not eligible for any benefits), or calling patients as I stated above to nip any problems in the bud.
This comes down to what you value and delegate at your office, but know that ultimately you are in charge of what your staff knows and how much power they have to help YOUR patients. I generally focus on 2 specific areas for staff knowledge.
- The first is optical principles. Your staff needs to know about PALS, FT’s, etc. and understand basic optics of a lens, especially if they are dealing with a higher Rx. The more they know, the better they will be at assisting patients in picking the proper frame and lens combination as well as troubleshooting/adjusting frames after a dispense.
- The second is the front desk and things like scheduling and verifying insurances. If your staff schedules properly, your flow and wait times will be optimized. Also, the ability to confidently and competently guide a patient through their vision insurance benefits is absolutely critical for a private practice to deliver above and beyond customer service.
This is a no brainer, but are you making sure that you are easy to work with? This means you have patient friendly hours/policies. If a patient has a problem, they know exactly who to talk to in order to find an answer and the resolution is handled quickly and fairly (from the patients perspective).This is explained much easier from a patient/customer perspective, so just think about the last item you returned to a store due to an issue. Are you that easy to work with, or do you have a million things in place to stop that 1/1000 patient that abuses the system?
I think this applies to us as doctors in the exam room as well as your staff in every interaction they have with patients. We assume because we take the time to explain things to patients that they understand. Heck we even ask them if they have any questions and they invariably say they do not. However; think back to any issues you may have had in the past month and how many of those could have been averted if the patient truly understood how a PAL worked, if they really comprehended the purpose of the treatment plan for stop their eyes from watering, or if they knew the ins and outs of transition lenses (like when they work and when they do not, i.e. behind the windshield of their car). Going above and beyond in patient communication takes a ton of time, effort, and energy but it is the single most important aspect to exceptional customer service. Make it happen.
There you have it my friends. These are not groundbreaking observations, but making sure you and your staff are making these 5 key principles the foundation of your office is a never ending task. Good luck!
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