Some patients come to your practice because it is the one that accepts their insurance. Even so, you and your staff can’t become lax when it comes to customer service. After all, practices are being added to the insurance plans all the time, so when patients have a choice, you want them to choose your practice. You also want patients to refer friends and family to your practice. The best way to keep patients happy and get referrals is to provide the best customer service.
Why worry about customer service? A market research company Access Development found that 79 percent of customers would take their business elsewhere within a week of experiencing bad customer service. So, how can you keep the patients happy and coming back to your practice?
Helping solve patients’ problems will go a long way in building loyalty. For example, recommending a particular allergy medicine during spring or fall allergy season will help teary eyed contact lens patients better tolerate their contacts and could possibly earn you a referral. Of course, there are times when you have to share bad news, ranging from letting the patient know that the cool frames don’t fit his or her face or a glaucoma diagnosis. These are key opportunities to flex your customer service muscles. Explaining why the frames don’t fit and helping the patient to understand that with medication and monitoring they can preserve functional vision shows that you have the patient’s best interests at heart. Avoid upselling and capitalizing on a difficult situation.
Another way to provide good customer service is to reward loyalty. Even in the absence of a ‘Starbucks’ type system, you can still reward patients who refer friends and family to you with a discount. Doing that is a win-win. You get a new patient and your old patient is rewarded with a discount for recommending you.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to send birthday cards to patients with a little giveaway item like a magnet or a smartphone credit card holder. The patient will appreciate the sentiment and the giveaway item will serve as a reminder to schedule an appointment to have his or her eyes checked.
Of course, don’t forget about the patients who haven’t returned to your practice in the past year. When patients don’t return, it isn’t always a case of a change in insurance plans or even that they left the area where your practice is located. Sometimes another practice wins them over or it has slipped their mind that they need to get an eye exam. Send a post card, an email, or make a call to remind them that they are due for an eye exam. Even if they don’t schedule an appointment, perhaps they will forward your information to someone they know who does need an eye exam.
Thanks to health insurance, eye care professionals have many possible patients. However, insurance isn’t guaranteed, so you need to provide the best service to patients so they will come back to your practice whenever they need eye care.