Social media, online reviews and a well-performing website are all great tools in a good marketing plan for an optometrist in private practice, but the most successful practices understand that delivering remarkable service to their patients is the cornerstone of their marketing plan.
After all, online reviews from happy patients simply broadcast to others how they felt about their experience at the practice, and if the practice is in the habit of delivering remarkable service, then the natural result is loyal patients who are happy to recommend you to others – in face to face conversations, online reviews or on social media.
But what are the things which make service worth remarking on – worth talking about?
Before the Appointment
Answer My Questions. The service begins before the patient arrives at the practice. Most new patients have common questions, and it’s important to clearly answer them on your website and in phone or text conversations prior to their appointment.
- How easy is it to schedule an appointment? Can I schedule it online, after business hours, or do I need to call between 9:00 – 5:00 Monday through Friday?
- Do you accept my insurance?
- Where are you located?
- What can I expect at the exam? What about my child’s exam? Is there anything to be apprehensive about?
Answer the Phone. Another great way to set the practice apart is answering your phone during business hours instead of putting a new patient through a menu of choices. This is refreshing for most consumers, because automated menus are deeply frustrating experiences with large service providers. A friendly voice answering their call immediately reassures them that this experience is different.
At the Appointment
Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is a key point in designing the elements of a remarkable service plan – how do we make people feel? It’s not just operations and tasks, it’s how you do them.
Look at Me and Smile. When a patient approaches the front desk, make eye contact and give them a genuine smile. This sets you apart because many front desk personnel do not give you their full attention when you approach them. When you don’t look at a person in the eye and smile, even if you technically greet them and ask them to start filling out paperwork but you’re looking elsewhere or are distracted, your body language is anything but welcoming. We’ve become accustomed to this experience – approaching a desk and not receiving their full attention – so this is “average” – but simply by giving them your full and happy attention, you’re already creating a remarkable experience.
Say my name. When a total stranger addresses you by name, it’s astonishing. The experience truly begins to feel personal and less transnational.
Make it Easy for Me to Do Business with You. Reduce unnecessary paperwork, keep wait times minimal, fully explain fees and policies and be upfront about delivery times for glasses and contact lenses.
Look for Opportunities to Let Me Win. When I’m genuinely happy with you and your team, I’ll be happy to refer more patients to your practice. Operating from the standpoint that you want the patient to be right, you want them to feel empowered, understood and cared for, instead of wanting to be right yourself or not wanting to be “taken advantage of” is a powerful way to consistently deliver remarkable service.
After the Appointment
Say Thank You and/or I’m Sorry. Thank patients for coming in to visit the practice! You may even consider giving them a little gift for coming in – a gift card, a small branded mug, eyeglass cleaner – something unexpected.
If something occurs in which the practice is at fault in the mind of the patient – for instance, if the patient drives to the practice to pick up eyewear which isn’t in or arrives for an appointment they thought was scheduled but it’s not, consider sending them a “We’re sorry!” card along with a small gift card.
These are elements of remarkable service – service worth remarking on, service worth telling others about – and remarkable customer service is the cornerstone of your marketing plan.