It’s Valentine’s Day! A day dedicated to love and admiration. While this holiday is usually aimed towards people’s personal lives, the idea of “showing you care” can be applied to the professional world, too. For eye care professionals, having great customer service shows patients that your practice cares. In an article for Optometric Management, Maddie Langston, IDOC Practice Marketing Consultant, shared a few customer service tips she thinks might help your practice.
Great customer service can be an incredible differentiator between practices and ecommerce sites. “…all local practice marketing begins with the experience people have when they are inside the practice because it’s very difficult to out-advertise a poor reputation,” Langston explains. Many times, practices call on her services due to poor reviews. Usually, the negative feedback shocks the practice. “Clearly there’s a disconnect in many of these cases – the practice delivered what they considered to be a good experience, but the patient left with a completely different perception.”
Sometimes, what is thought to be “great customer service” can be lost in the delivery. While operating effectively as an eye care office is key, it’s only part of the customer experience. Few people consider what specific words and body language can communicate. This subconscious message can change a patient’s impression of the practice.
Chik-fil-A, for example, makes a conscious push for excellent customer service. The organization gives employees specific vocabulary, facial expressions, and body language to use in their customer interactions. Things like make eye contact, say “please” and “thank you”, and say “my pleasure” after taking an order are all pieces to the culture of customer service. This pleasant attitude earned Chik-fil-A an 83% on a customer service survey conducted by Temkin Group. Receiving above an 80% is considered “excellent.”
The Key to Relatable Customer Service
“The overall goal in patient communication should be empathy – making the person feel heard and understood,” stresses Langston. Working to see things from a patient’s perspective helps him/her feel respected and important, and it can be the difference between customer loyalty and a terrible review. Being confident and using words like absolutely, fantastic, delightful, and reassure tend to create a positive encounter with the patient. For patients who may be distraught or upset, a few helpful phrases include:
- I’m listening and want to see if we can solve this together.
- I can see how important this is to you.
- I understand this can be frustrating.
While these uplifting phrases are important, the appropriate body language and tone of voice can make or break the interaction. Patients should feel the genuine intent, not just hear the words. Having a true, friendly attitude while making eye contact can help create positive communication with your patients.
Putting It All Together
Creating a culture of customer service starts with observation. Listen and watch the interactions throughout your practice, and most importantly, keep an open mind. While intentions are good, your staff may need a bit of help to convey great customer service. Using these tips can help your patients feel the love in your practice.
For more customer service tips, check out Dr. Gailmard’s suggestions.