By Maryann Santos

Word-of-mouth advertising begins with our attitudes. The attitudes of each of us are based on our likes and dislikes and are expressed in our words, our actions, and our behavior. Some of these attitudes become habits, some of which are helpful, but some are harmful to us, the people we work with, and the patients we greet and serve. The eye care professional can analyze these attitudes and try to eliminate those that are inappropriate.

It has been said that a happy patient will tell one other person of their great experience and an unhappy patient will tell five. This adage is no longer true. With the use of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google Reviews, Yelp, and other social media platforms and sites, an unhappy person can connect with literally millions of others with very little effort, and in a very short period of time.

How can you measure your word-of-mouth advertising? One way is to start a campaign. Take a season, let’s say June through August, or September through November, a season where there is a start and finish to calculate data.

Before you begin, have a meeting with your staff, and make sure that you are all working successfully toward the goals of the practice. Consider some effective qualities of eyecare professionals:

  • Productivity is achievement of a satisfactory quantity of work. 
  • Adaptability is the ability to receive new ideas and methods to make adjustments and changes in the workplace.
  • Cooperation is willingness to assist a coworker with agreeable compliance.
  • Dependability is having trustworthiness and being able to carry out instructions and assignments. 
  • Accuracy is exactness and professional skill.
Before you start your word-of-mouth campaign look to see how many favorable Facebook, Yelp, and Google reviews you have. That is your starting point. Now launch your campaign.

Launching the campaign
Be in full agreement with the staff ahead of time as to the goal. The leader or manager of the office must convey to the entire staff a culture of respect, effectiveness, and open communication. Patients pick up on negative tension in the office. Clear any grievances ahead of time.

You can make this a challenge by rewarding the staff with dinner at a fine restaurant, gift cards to their favorite places, or another generous token of appreciation if you increase your positive reviews within a defined timeframe.

Set the stage
Provide an exceptional first impression. Avoid keeping your patients waiting for long periods of time. If delays are unavoidable, patients should be told why they’re waiting, and how long the wait may be as this helps minimize patient frustration. Make your patients feel important; the first contact the patient has with her eye care professional should be courteous, respectful, and personalized. As Dale Carnegie says “make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.” 

Make sure staff is using everyday language to explain the eye care process, avoiding technical terms that make no sense to patients. In addition, be personable and ask questions about patients’ families, social life, and work situation so they feel they have not been forgotten from one visit to the next. Make notes on charts about the patient's interests and concerns for future visits. And always be professional. Avoid personal conversations with other staff members, or being on the phones with friends or family, as these can be overheard by patients. Glancing at cell phones during the workday does not look professional; it is a turn off to many.

Once your stage is set and you offer exceptional service, ask patients to provide reviews about their experience. Offer them a gift for doing so, such as an eyeglass cleaning kit, or a discount toward a future purchase. Generate ideas from your staff for these tokens of appreciation. 

Word-of-mouth advertising is crucial to the success of businesses, especially the independent or smaller practices. When you are creating an experience that goes above and beyond, you are more likely to receive positive reviews.

Learn ways to better engage with your patients to deliver the best optical retail experience with our CE, The Art of Dispensing at This course is free, supported by an educational grant from DE RIGO REM and POLICE.