Blog
Blog
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blog
IDOC actively shares industry-focused articles, blog posts, podcasts, videos and other thought leadership with our members and other optometric practitioners. Below, you will find links to our growing library of educational materials and multi-media assets written and created by IDOC's team of seasoned industry experts.
Dr. Steve Vargo | 11/16/2017
CUSTOMER SERVICE AND OPTOMETRY - 3 GOLDEN RULES

A consumer-centric culture with a focus on customer service is becoming increasingly important for brick & mortar businesses. While I do believe most practice owners strive to deliver on great service, it requires a team effort. I often hear owners tell me they want to be known in their community for providing great service, but certain staff members make that difficult. Employee training often focuses on teaching the technical skills of the job, but fails to address the soft skills. Below are a few “golden rules” worth teaching employees.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood

In the words of Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand; then to be understood”. As irrational and difficult as some people may seem, it’s possible that the problem is based on a misunderstanding or miscommunication. The patient may even have a valid complaint. Allow the patient an opportunity to fully explain their version or understanding of a situation before responding. Once people realize you’re trying to help them as opposed to argue or debate them, they tend to soften their confrontational stance. It’s much easier to communicate with an angry patient when their veins are no longer popping out of their neck!

Get comfortable with apologizing!

The words “I’m sorry” are two of the most powerful words in the English language. Business owners (and employees) are often slow to apologize, fearing this will be an admission that the business was in the wrong. The reason apologies are so powerful is not because they establish right vs. wrong, but rather because the words “I’m sorry” communicate empathy.  As in, “I’m sorry you had to wait so long”, “I’m sorry there was a misunderstanding with the bill”, or “I’m sorry we don’t have your contact lenses in stock”. The psychology behind this is simple, when consumers feel they have been “pained” or inconvenienced by a business, they want the business to share some of the pain. An apology communicates that you feel bad about their predicament, regardless of whose fault it is. Negative online reviews often result from situations where the business failed to empathize with the customer, leading the customer to cause pain to the business through negative public comments.

Just fix it!

I realize there are times you have to take a stand against unreasonable or cantankerous patients, but in my experience if you or your employees immediately take action to fix a problem vs. trying to enforce rigid policies or complicate what should be an easy solution, you’ll have a much better outcome. Recently I was at a restaurant and our appetizer showed up after the main dish – and cold! When the bill came we asked that it be removed from the bill and the waitress said she had to talk with her manager. So we waited, the whole time thinking, can’t this employee “just fix it?” From a customer service standpoint, “taking too long to resolve an issue” is often listed as a top reason for customer dissatisfaction - even when the issue at hand is ultimately resolved.

Maybe this all seems like common sense to you, but does your staff know this?

Dr. Steve Vargo
Practice Management Consultant
Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is a 1998 graduate of Illinois College of Optometry. After working in a clinical optometric practice for several years, Dr. Vargo pursued his passion for practice management by earning his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Phoenix in 2008. A published author and speaker with 15 years of clinical experience, he serves as IDOC’s Optometric Practice Management Consultant and advises members in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. Steve and his wife Melanie have two sons, Lucas and Ryan. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cycling, sports and music. A native Chicagoan, he is an avid fan of the Cubs, live music and deep-dish pizza.
 LinkedIn
Trending Blogs
 
 

9/9/2022 | Author: Maddie Langston

 

If you are looking to increase the number of new patients at your practice, then your marketing strategy should include working on how to get noticed in local online search results. One powerful way to increase your visibility in local search is to optimize and maintain the... Read more


8/22/2022 | Author: Kelsey Garcia

So you created a Facebook and Instagram account for your practice, but now what? Coming up with post ideas can be overwhelming and can quickly leave your creative “well” feeling dry. By categorizing your posts into three main buckets, you can easily streamline the brainstorming... Read more


8/5/2022 | Author: Dr. Steve Vargo

As I type this, the news is dominated by concerns over the economy, including unease around inflation and a looming recession. This has practice owners understandably concerned and asking, “What should I expect, and how can I prepare?”

I’m not an economist, and I... Read more


7/22/2022 | Author: Nathan Hayes

Do you worry that your staff aren’t consistently doing the little things in your practice? Do you lose sleep because you just ‘don’t know’ what’s happening outside your lane?  Do you struggle to find the time to oversee things?

Let me suggest that... Read more


7/15/2022 | Author: Amy Alvarez

I think I would be hard pressed to find an independent practice owner who doesn’t understand the power that marketing has on their ability to attract patients to their practice. Keeping patients, new and existing, visiting the practice is an important part of a successful... Read more


7/8/2022 | Author: Lana Greene

I have never spoken to a practice with a zero patient-owned-frame (POF) percentage. I encourage practices to strive for less than 25% POF percentage at a minimum, and less than 15% for the best-in-class. You may see a slight increase year-over-year, which will happen when you sell quality... Read more


5/19/2022 | Author: Dr. Steve Vargo

As research for launching a new service called IDOC Specialty Services, I interviewed several industry experts of various specialties. At the end of each call, I asked everyone the same question: “What prevents more ODs from succeeding with a specialty?”

Their answers were insightful.... Read more


5/3/2022 | Author: Amy Alvarez

The pandemic has caused many changes in private practice, affecting everything from the way we see our patients to what we expect from our employees. Although some of these changes serve us well, others may feel like a barrier. While attendance issues are not new... Read more


4/15/2022 | Author: Lana Greene

Do you ever wonder if the same amount of effort goes into selling eyeglass frames vs. selling lenses and treatment options? I certainly do. Speaking from experience as an optician, I remember always being so excited when new lens technology was released. I couldn’t wait to fit our... Read more


4/8/2022 | Author: Steven Festa

Alright, I will come clean on something very few people knew about outside my family.  I’m OK with sharing this with the world now as it helps prove a point about the importance of being present in local searches.

Ever since COVID started, my wonderful wife had started... Read more

© 2022 IDOC. All Rights Reserved