How many times a day are you and your team faced with the question of whether to provide more for a patient? “More,” in this instance, being products and services. In some situations, patients expect more for their money or more discounts, while others expect you to provide more personalized service. What do you do? How far are you willing to go to make your patients happy?
Let’s start with products. At a recent staff meeting, a question came up about what to do for a patient when his eyewear is late or needs to be redone. My philosophy is simple: Regardless of whose fault it is — the lab, the insurance carrier, a staff member, etc. — our priority is to rectify the situation and make the patient happy.
So, my answer to this question is simple: Inform the patient about the delay and find out whether he has a back-up pair of glasses. If not, offer a temporary pair to hold him over until his glasses are ready. (This can be a very inexpensive frame in either single vision lenses or low-end progressives that can be turned around the next day). When the original glasses are ready, let the patient know he can keep the “temporary” pair.
In this example, the cost of providing more to correct the mistake — an inexpensive pair of glasses ranging from $10 to $50 — is less expensive than discounting the ordered glasses or issuing a full refund. And, it is considerably less expensive than losing the future business of the patient and others because of a bad review.
From my perspective, you can’t be generous enough when it comes to service. This includes respecting patients’ valuable time and educating them on the value of your services so they appreciate the care you provide, and even how you welcome them to your practice. For example, do you offer patients a bottle of water and let them know how happy you are to see them, or do you tell them to sit, fill out forms and wait? How about surprising your patients with true hospitality? It’s the little things that can make all the difference.
Another key component is ensuring patients that their needs and goals are your priority. True customer service is about always letting a patient know what you can do, not what you can’t. “Cans” win, “Can’ts” loose. It’s that simple.
To give or not to give? That is the question. And my answer is give, give, give! It will pay dividends, both to your bottom line and to the satisfaction of your patients.
This article was originally published on Optometric Management and written by Jay Binkowitz. Binkowitz is the president of GPN, an optometric consulting company based in Huntington, N.Y. He has had extensive experience in retail operations, merchandising and marketing. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.