Optometry is an incredibly detail-oriented profession. There are so many opportunities throughout your patient’s exam experience to impress them and create a lasting relationship.
Unfortunately, there are an equal number of opportunities to fail miserably, leaving your practice in a downward spiral of bad online reviews and negative word-of-mouth.
When a patient enters your office, they are flooded with sights, smells, conversations, and numerous interactions with your staff. Each of these aspects is judged independently and then summed to add to or take away from their overall experience.
With that in mind, there are three basic categories that a patient will separate each mini-experience into:
1. Above Expectations: This is the above and beyond. At West End Eye Care, this is the free coffee they weren't expecting, the thank you note in the mail, or the complimentary chocolate they receive when we dispense their glasses. We want every experience to fall into this category. Every interaction they have with the office and staff should be unexpected and pleasantly surprising. These experiences are consciously realized by the patient and are oftentimes verbally recognized: “It smells so great in here!” These are the basis for referrals. These are the talking points that will create buzz about your practice!
2. Met Expectations: These are details that are reasonably expected by the patient when they walk into your office: a clean bathroom, a polite receptionist, non-pushy sales staff. These are typically subconsciously tallied: the patient expects them to be there and when they are, they don't acknowledge it. These aren’t going to get you any brownie points with your patient, but, if you don't meet one of these expectations, it can lead to category 3…
3. Below Expectations: These occur when something that was expected was not fulfilled. For example: a cluttered and unorganized front desk, unfriendly or unhelpful staff, or difficulty in making an appointment. These are always consciously realized and, just like category 1, may lead to verbal recognition in the form of bad word-of-mouth or negative online reviews. You must avoid these experiences at all costs!
We know that negative emotions are a much stronger force than positive emotions. This means that one negative interaction in your office can undo every positive interaction your patient has had up to that point.
Attention to detail is critical to ensure that every part of the office works in synergy, creating a seamless positive experience for the patient. As a new member of the office, take it upon yourself to scrutinize every interaction your patients are having during their exam and look for ways to address those areas that may be lack-luster.