the business of contact lenses
Little Things Make a Lasting Impression on Your Patients
BY GARY GERBER, OD
I pulled into a hotel valet parking lot on the night of March 7. When I left on March 8, the dash-board clock on my rental car displayed the correct time. That might not seem unusual until you consider that between my arrival and departure, daylight savings time had taken place and clocks were supposed to "spring ahead" by one hour. Also keep in mind that the car I had was an older model and the clock had to be reset by hand.
The point here is that the valet, whether of his own initiative or company directive, reset my clock. And now, a few thousand of you know about my experience at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville.
My hotel experience was fine and included the typical clean room, good food and polite service. Essentially, everything I expected to happen, did happen. But the seemingly small and insignificant event of setting my car clock is what really stuck with me after this particular visit.
Little Gestures, Big Impact
Patients have certain expectations when they're fit with contact lenses. Offices, staff and equipment should be clean and shipshape. The staff and the practitioner should be articulate and knowledgeable. The interaction should be devoid of obstacles to patients getting what they want — comfortable contact lenses that provide great vision at a good value.
This aspect of the experience is only the baseline expectation of most patients. But when we hear the hackneyed phrase "exceeding expectations," we don't need to think in terms of contact lens heroics. As my clock reset story goes, little gestures can be equally memorable.
Examine Your Patient Process
To uncover these small, yet significant items to add to your contact lens fitting process, walk through it (literally) together with your staff as though you were the patient. From the first phone call to handing the patient his receipt on his way out, examine each step of your process. Ask yourself and your staff, "Is there something we can do to make this task, no matter how seemingly small, more memorable and easier for our patients?"
While your practice checkbook isn't an endless pot of money, assume it is for this exercise. You don't want funding — or lack of it — to interfere with the free flow of ideas. So, when your staff says, "It would be really cool if after the patient was first fit with contact lenses in the exam room, we had a moving sidewalk to take him to the area of the office where we show him how to care for his lenses. Once he gets there we'll be waiting for him with a smile, a custom-printed, well-stocked kit of everything he'll need to wear his lenses; the lenses themselves, any needed lens care solutions, plano sunglasses, cases, lens cloths, customized instruction sheets, and a DVD as well as a T-shirt that says, ‘got contacts?’"
From this flood of thinking, perhaps you can whittle things down to a more manageable and realistic, "Okay, so when I'm done fitting the patient, I'll send you an instant message. That will be a sign that I am bringing back the patient, whom you should greet and welcome by name. While I'm bringing him back, call up the computer document that explains how he'll care for his lenses and type his name on the first page, and have it ready before I bring the patient back."
So, T-shirts and moving sidewalks get voted out, but the intent of customizing the visit gets left in. Most importantly, from the patient's perspective, this might be as memorable as my rental car clock reset! CLS
Dr. Gerber is the president of the Power Practice – a company offering consulting, seminars and software solutions for optometrists. You can reach him at (800) 867-9303 or DrGerber@PowerPractice.com.