tips + strategies
Looking for bright ideas? Each issue of The OD Connection will offer up best practices—tips and strategies—in a critical corner of independent practice. This month’s topic: enhancing the customer experience.
To unpack expertise on this vital subject, ODC tapped Lorie Lippiatt, O.D., executive vice president, professional relations, at Healthy Eyes Advantage and an optometrist in private practice in Salem Eyecare Center in Salem, OH.
Her keen observations follow.
—Stephanie K. De Long
As optometrists and practice owners, our focus has always been centered on patients. While retaining them is vital, the value of understanding and enhancing the customer or patient experience cannot be overstated.
■ THE EXPERIENCE
This encompasses their interaction with your practice through end-to-end experiences, not just single touch points. For example, a patient could receive excellent care during their examination, yet not be informed of a two-week delay in receiving their new eyewear due to a failed inspection at the optical lab.
As competition for patients increases across every channel, patients are increasingly exposed to confusing messaging, opportunities to partake in eyewear “deals,” and promises of convenience. If you want patients to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience!
■ THE JOURNEY
Begin by realizing this is not a sprint! Changing a mindset within your practice to focus on the end-to-end patient journey is an ongoing process, which will take time to implement.
Identify your practice’s value proposition—why patients would come to your office vs. any other—and get your entire staff on board.
Experience the patient’s journey. Enter through your front door. What are the first things you notice, smell, hear? What could be improved? How long does it take for a staff member to smile and greet you? Then implement a standard: “Our patients are greeted within five seconds or within five feet of the front door.” When traveling, make an appointment with an O.D. in a new area. Discuss highlights from your experience with staff.
Who are your patients...elderly, younger, hipster, traditional, etc.? Understanding their needs and wants is the first step in connecting and empathizing with their situations and an important step in becoming patient-centric.
Create an emotional connection with patients. Teach staff to make notes about a hobby, talent, or interest each patient may have.
Capture feedback in real time. Use a patient engagement service to conduct post-visit surveys. Use feedback from these surveys in staff meetings to reinforce positive behaviors and role-play scenarios to improve skills.
Patient expectations are higher than ever, and they have many choices. By investing in staff training, understanding needs and wants, and delivering quality care and solutions, patients will have better reasons to remain loyal for years to come.
GOOD TO KNOW
If you want patients to stay loyal, you have to invest in their experience!