The Business of Contact Lenses
Use Testimonials to Build Your Dry Eye Practice
BY GARY GERBER, OD
If chronic, open angle glaucoma was painful, we’d all be better off. Patients would likely seek care sooner and, in doing so, would have better clinical outcomes, and practitioners would have more glaucoma patients to treat.
So depending on your perspective, you might argue that it is unfortunate that most of what we do as contact lens practitioners involves no pain—or no compelling reason for patients to seek care. Dry eye, however, while typically not painful, can certainly be uncomfortable, and from a marketer’s perspective that’s a good thing. Reducing discomfort and markedly improving patients’ quality of life is just what the practice building doctor ordered.
With this as a backdrop, let’s talk about the power of well-written testimonials and how they can bolster your dry eye practice.
Patients Relate to Each Other
First, realize that no matter what your ad looks like or says, rarely can it be as convincing as one patient talking to another about how their discomfort was abated. Just as referrals are the lifeblood that drives most practice growth, testimonials can have the same power and mystique. This is because a prospective patient can readily relate to another patient— especially one who has had similar symptoms—and subsequently has had those symptoms reduced or eliminated.
Therefore, in asking your dry eye patients for testimonials (which is the easiest way to get them—just ask), ask them to use common everyday language. Ask them to first state their problem and then to give specific examples of how it affected their lives.
Take the case of a patient who states, “I wasn’t sure why, but my eyes would always be scratchy and watery right around lunch time and would stay that way for the rest of the day. Things got so bad that I was having trouble seeing my computer screen and eventually driving home from work.”
Now contrast that with a patient who simply reports, “My eyes were feeling dry so I went to see Dr. Drops.”
Prospective patients can more readily relate to the first patient because that patient has related his symptoms’ effects on his everyday life (computer use and driving).
Put Their Relief Into Words
Next, ask your patients to discuss how they felt about getting treated. As above, a more descriptive narrative is better: “I wasn’t sure exactly whether the treatment Dr. Drops was recommending would work because I felt like I had tried everything already. But I stuck with it and after about two weeks, I must admit—I really was feeling much better.”
Finally, ask your patients whether they can report any changes in their lives since you treated their dry eyes. “Since following the regimen Dr. Drops set up for me, I finally have no trouble driving home and the scratchiness has stopped. It’s also nice to not have to always worry about having eye drops with me. The freedom of that is great!”
To help elicit these types of testimonials, ask patients very pointed questions. “Can you tell me, in your own words, what your eyes felt like before you were treated and how it was affecting your life?”
Putting Testimonials to Use
Instead of simple print testimonials, use the power of the Internet and technology to deliver these messages. Short video or audio vignettes on your Web site can reinforce that these patients are “real people,” just like those seeing or hearing their messages.
Finally, check with your state board before using testimonials as some states have specific guidelines that must be followed. 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.