WO advisory board member Charlotte Tlachac, OD, FAAO, of Alameda, California, shares six gestures you can make throughout your day to make patients feel special.
1. Keep a candy machine on the front counter: Patients love to stop by to say hello and turn the handle on our free candy dispenser to grab a handful of M&Ms. The candy dispenser is nice because it controls the quantity, and it’s fun. A small snack bar or mini fridge with bottled water is easy to add, and patients really love it.
2. Connect with a coffee shop: Keeping a coffee bar clean and stocked can be labor-intensive, but we coordinated with the coffee shop next door to help us out. Whenever we had a patient who had experienced some lapse in service, had to wait too long or was just having a lousy day, we’d send that patient to the coffee shop as our treat. The coffee shop simply added it to our tab. Sadly, the coffee shop has moved, and it’s not quite the same with a bike shop next door. But look to see who is within walking distance of your practice. That business will appreciate the cross-promotion, too.
3. Keep kids happy: We have an aquarium, and we allow the kids to feed the fish. We also placed a small rocking horse in the reception area, along with a kids’ table with toys and books. The rocking horse provides a quiet diversion for more active children. Busy kids are quiet kids, and that results in happier parents and patients in the reception area.
4. Bond with eyewear: Provide patients a tray when they arrive, and encourage them to try on some frames while they’re waiting. Tell them to keep any frames they really like on the tray. It saves time in the selection process, and patients often bond with the frames they carry along.
5. “I was thinking of you”: Those are powerful words. Call patients let them know that a new frame line or contact lens has arrived, saying, “I was thinking of you when these came in.” Or add a personal note to a postcard announcing a trunk show. Even sending out the announcement to your best customers first is a way to make them feel special.
6. Provide a personal touch: Every doctor and staff member who interacts with a patient should thank the patient personally. Even if it’s as simple as a handshake or a compliment about the eyewear selected, the patient should feel that his or her presence and business is appreciated. Even something as simple as adding a cell phone number or circling an email on a business card makes the interaction feel more personalized.