Your patient’s first impression of your practice begins with the first step taken into the office. Your website and interactions with staff members through a phone call, email or text message will also be indicative of their future visit to the office. Whether through in-person or virtual contact, the demeanor of your staff members and associate doctors towards your patients are vital to enhance optometry practice customer service. There are many ways in which efficient staff can work together to create a pleasant experience for your patients. Here are 6 critical ones that every practice should consider in an effort to increase profitability and efficiency.
Take the Patient’s Side
Although you may deny a request or doubt a claim they make, to enhance optometry practice customer service , try to vocalize your response to the patients in a positive manner so as not to discourage them. For example, how many doctors can relate to the story of a patient walking into the office to claim that she had an appointment scheduled for today, when in reality, she hasn’t been seen in your office for amount of years? Although it is easier to say she’s wrong and to ask her to leave, the choice of words in the following response will make a big difference. “Let me see what I can do for you” sounds more constructive than “I don’t think the doctor will allow that.” The effort your staff makes to consider the patient’s request will almost always be recognized, even if your staff cannot give the patients what they want.
Accept Walk-In Appointments
The schedule may be full, but patients will appreciate the effort put into squeezing them in for a last-minute eye exam or office visit. Your staff should notify the patients up front that the schedule is full and they may have to wait longer than usual to be seen. Your patients will realize two things at that point: that your staff was courteous enough to honestly warn them of the likely wait, and that there is a good reason why your schedule of patients is full–indicating that the wait will be worth it after all.
Answer the Phone on the First Ring
The patients over the phone will be thoroughly impressed to know that they can reach your office almost immediately without having to leave a message (and we know how “soon” those messages get returned). In addition, the patients in your office will notice the willingness of your staff to instantly reach for the phone as opposed to waiting for multiple rings and appearing forced to pick up the call.
The Waiting Room isn’t Always for Waiting
An great way to enhance optometry practice customer service is to try and make sure your patients do not wait for more than 15 minutes to be taken back for their exam. I’m sure you can imagine the frustration of sitting still in a chair for 15 minutes with no sign of when you will be called next. Therefore, implementing a 15-minute rule in your practice is major benefit to driving patient efficiency. The less patients wait the more patients your practice will be able to see.
Prioritize Based on Each Case-by-Case Scenario
In an ideal world where patients arrive to their appointment 15 minutes early and take 20 minutes to be pretested and examined (not counting a full dilation), every patient would be taken back based on their appointment time. Unfortunately, medical offices are more commonly faced with the reality of the 3:00 o’clock patient arriving at 1:30 and the 2:00 o’clock patient arriving at 2:45. Tough one, right? In this case, would the 2:00 o’clock patient know that the 3:00 o’clock patient is actually scheduled for a 3:00 exam?
The staff should prioritize emergency visits. Keep in mind that an add-on, however, is different than an emergency. Do not place a dry eye office visit in the exam room before a scheduled patient, but always accommodate with a foreign body removal. A dry eye condition can be tolerated for a longer time than a foreign metal object in the eye that needs to be removed at that moment. At this point, it is important for the staff to notify the waiting patients of this emergency and for you, the doctor, to acknowledge the extra waiting your patients had to do for this emergency.
Enhance Optometry Practice Customer Service with a Personal Hand-Off
Many clinics and practices run busy schedules and value every minute to their advantage. The most successful practices are the ones where doctors have a more personal relationship with the patients. With that said, the additional minute taken from your schedule to personally escort your patient out of the room to the optician will set a significantly better impression on them than pressing a button that beeps to alert your assistant to escort them out.
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