When considering why customer service should be at the forefront of your ophthalmology practice, it is essential to remember that patients have choices when selecting their eye-care providers. What differentiates one practice from another isn’t just the quality of clinical care — it’s the overall patient experience.
As an ophthalmic professional, every interaction you have, be it a phone call to schedule an appointment or a discussion about a surgical procedure, holds immense value. These moments shape the perception of your practice, and while most of these interactions may be positive, it’s crucial to understand the broader implications of the negative ones. A look at some statistics demonstrates my point (all statistics from Servicenation.com, behind paywall; for screenshot, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
A single patient, discontented enough to escalate an issue, isn’t just one isolated incident. In fact, this one patient could represent as many as 50 others who didn’t voice their grievances. The power of word-of-mouth complaints can cause a challenging disruption in patient referrals. For example:
• 75% of these will share their dissatisfaction face-to-face or over the phone with eight
• 12% will express their frustrations to another eight people through email or chat.
• 13% will spread their experience to an astonishing 60 others via blogs, tweets or other social media platforms.
When you add it all up, that’s potentially 1,375 instances of negative word-of-mouth feedback originating from one incident.
Why people move on
It’s alarming to note that 68% of patients opt to seek care elsewhere due to perceived staff discourtesy. Consider this feedback from a patient in Florida:
“... I do not regret leaving this place. I’d rather my cataract take over my eye, and I turn into Storm from X-Men than have my eye even looked at by these people.”
It’s a humorous yet poignant reminder: To be exceptional in our field, we must excel in the basics. And customer service, to put it plainly, is the basic function of all staff members.
Back to basics: The cornerstones of customer service
Staff must keep these precepts uppermost in their minds:
1. Respect every patient. This is the foundation of any positive interaction. To show patients respect, try smiling, making eye contact, and calling the patient by name.
2. Active listening. Understand their concerns. This makes patients feel valued and acknowledged.
3. Identify needs. Recognize what the patient truly needs, even if they aren’t sure themselves.
4. Problem-solving. Use your expertise to offer effective solutions, assuring patients that their concerns are being addressed.
The heart of the matter
Customer service isn’t relegated to just one department or a few staff members; it’s a collective responsibility that permeates every aspect of practice. Every interaction, whether it’s with a receptionist at the front desk or a seasoned physician, reflects the core values of the establishment.
In a world where experiences can be shared globally in seconds, it’s more essential than ever to prioritize exemplary customer service. After all, while negative reviews can be damaging, positive ones can be transformative. Let’s ensure we give our patients reasons to share the latter. OP
Ms. Monroe is a senior consultant with BSM Consulting in Phoenix, AZ. Ms. Monroe specializes in helping practices with operations, planning, customer service, and HR.