Patients often remark how friendly we are and how comfortable they feel in our office. This leads us to think that other ECPs must be overlooking how important personal care is to growing their practices.
First, every transaction or interaction with your patient needs to be personal. People feel more connected when you share something you might have in common with them. This creates a more relaxed environment and establishes a basis of trust and this makes your opinion even more valuable to them.
Of course, there are exceptions. Patients who want to come in, make the purchase, and get on their way as quickly as possible. Just getting these people to crack a smile before they leave your office is enough to gain repeat business. The relationships you create with your patients create a good name for your practice and your team. Simple gestures easily overlooked can make your patients experience a memorable one that allows your practice to stand out from other ECPs.
For example, follow-up calls to patients to be sure they don't have any questions about their new digital progressives or to ask if they are comfortable using their new prescription, make a difference. An easy way to set this up is to write down what might seem like a small change or something that was a part of the interaction with that patient that you can mention when reaching out to them. It's amazing some of the reactions you will receive when you ask, "This is Jones from ___ Optical. I was just finishing some things up at our office and was wondering how your sunglasses worked while on your trip to Hawaii." The more detail you write down, the better.
A gift bag with an itemized receipt, cleaner, cleaning cloth, and a brochure about a product they just bought at your office completes the package and continues the personal touch. Need help with buyer's remorse? Patients often feel uneducated about the products or costs and the right explanations can help. In fact, this starts at the sale and should carry the patient through to the time they pick up their eyewear. The brochure could be about the new anti-reflective coating that you just talked about, or their new digital progressives and the extra measurements your took to personalize his/her Rx, or even the Trivex material you put them in. Trust me, there are brochures on all these things and our office has them.
The third significant factor you must consider is why people buy in the first place. Patients buy for many different reasons: motivation, impulse, visual necessity, etc. You need to present products in which they may interest them in a manner that best fits them. Lifestyle questions are essential to help you determine what lenses and options to present to them as well as connect with your patient.
Be excited about how your patient looks in the eyewear they are trying on. Your excitement will create the motivation necessary to help complete your transaction.
Finally, there is visual necessity. By providing the product with its benefits you will also need to explain the benefits in correlation with their visual needs. This can include: the constant computer work they do on a daily basis and how the new AR will help with their eye fatigue at the end of the day. Or, perhaps, how the new progressives will widen their intermediate/near and almost give them a 180-degree distance. Just a simple hand demonstration of looking through an hour glass to widening your hands to a 180 degree angle to show the patient what they will be able to see more of is enough to be able to finalize their trust, your sale, and repeat business.
Convenient, but Is It Personal?
Yes, there are some patients that are attracted to the online world and you know them as soon as you hear them ask for their P.D. Or, if they tell you they are ordering their contacts online don't let your smile fade. We've all been there. It's important to treat every patient with respect regardless of where they want to get their eyewear. I've dealt with employees who are rude to patients because they were ordering online. The best you can do as an ECP is tell them what they should be expecting. Use some personal and specific circumstances you've experienced with other patients that have had both good and bad experiences online.
For contact lens ordering, consider a couple of things that you can do to grab your patient's attention. Offer free delivery to their home or workplace when ordering a year supply. Verifying the right contact lens prescription for each order ensures that they receive exactly what they need. And, free samples of cleaning solution are always a nice touch.
Adding the personal touch to your practice is just good business and our office can attest to the additional referrals and multiple pair sales it creates.
Tyler Trisel licensed optician, ABOC, aspiring ABOM at Vision One Optical since August of 2013 where he manages a private optometry practice and aspires to achieve his ABOM. The love he has for what he does, the science behind optics, helping each patient with care and understanding makes him good at what he does. With two years of lab experience and a wide array of lenses he has dispensed gives him a very solid background for PAL patients.