Providing an outstanding patient experience is one of the biggest competitive advantages a practice can have. Rather than compete on price, 66% of businesses compete based on a customer experience. So what is the formula for standing out from the competition? A balance of innovation and customer service. Sounds easy right? In some ways it is. In this article I dive into what some business's do that make them different.There are businesses we frequent that we know are different. Companies like Amazon, Trader Joes, and Ritz Carlton all offer a level of service that is unparalleled...and we as the independent ECP can learn a lot from their approach.
So what are the steps in curating a more patient-centric practice?
You guessed it - customer service. Creating customer service means overcoming common pain points. We might find ourselves making excuses like "my staff doesn't do what I want them to" or "if only they would answer the phone this way..." The truth is, everything comes back to YOU, the business owner. Practicing accountability is the #1 way to succeed in any industry. You are a leader, and you must lead not only by example, but by holding yourself accountable when things aren't running the way you wish they would. Here are some easy ways to improve your leadership:
1) Read The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller. This book is easy to digest, and will help you understand how you can tackle issues we all face: blame, complaining and procrastination. Do yourself a favor and download the audiobook and you'll read it on 3-4 drives to and from work. It is the investments we make in ourselves that ultimately bring forth the most profound change.
2) Schedule a weekly staff meeting. It doesn't have to be long. At my practice, we run a 15 minute meeting weekly after lunch. We review any current issues, concerns, or new technology we are bringing into practice. We always share positive patient experiences we've recently had and how we can keep replicating that.
3) Invest in the look and feel of your practice. If you haven't updated your practice recently, consider a small area you can improve. Waiting rooms are a great place to start. If you aren't budgeted for a full remodel, think about small ways you can renovate. Clean up your office, remove old marketing materials. Add some fresh flowers, maybe buy a Nespresso machine. Add a flat screen TV that plays a reel on services and products you offer like this one. There are endless ways to improve the look and feel of your practice. What do you like to experience? Nice scents? Comfortable seating? If you need help - reach out to the pros at OMG Marketing group. They can work with a budget to help you improve the aesthetics of your practice.
4) Get rid of paper forms
5) Work on phone etiquette and how your staff greets patients when they come in.
6) Stop having your staff do mundane tasks that technology can takeover. Your staff are humans, and only have so much energy. If you drain them with paperwork, or admin all day...likely you aren't going to be able to give your patients the kind of customer service that would make you stand out.
7) Offer online scheduling (make sure you have a website too!)
8) Ship them their contact lenses home. Worried about shipping expenses? Consider this...your staff spends 200+ hours a year processing in office contact lens orders. That's 200 hours your staff could have spent with your patients, taking the time to answer their questions thoughtfully and selling them products. If it were you ordering contacts, would you want to drive back to your doc's office to pick them up or have them at your doorstep days later? Your patients aren't any different. Auto-remind them when they are due to re-order too...that is an easy way to pick up lost revenue that exceeds your shipping costs for the year.
Are you innovating?
Innovation comes from questioning the status quo. Find yourself saying "I don't need that technology, I'm doing FINE without it"? Push yourself to think into the future and how things are changing around us. Look for ways to better serve your patients and improve their life.
Offices that strive to never stop innovating often rise to the top. Check out technology that can improve the patient experience here. Invest in them, and there is no doubt your practice will thrive.
Highlights of technology you shouldn't live without:
- Contact Lens Sales Platform
- E-commerce for Eyewear
- Patient Communication
- Insurance Verification Platform
- Inexpensive package deals on Eyewear and Contacts
- Pay over time financing
- Employee Training Tools
- Success without vision plans
- Niche Offerings to Stand Out
- VR headsets - Visual Fields & More