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.
Steve Vargo | 4/3/2017
OPTOMETRY AND THE LAW OF RECIPROCITY: DOES IT REALLY EXIST?

Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today, Mrs. Smith?

Mrs. Smith: That’s OK.  I’ll just take the prescription and get them online.

What happened here?  You just did a thorough, high-tech eye exam on Mrs. Smith, addressed all her complaints, answered all her questions, and then without hesitation she informs you that she will be taking her business elsewhere.  Let’s rewind 20 minutes and see if there’s anything we could have done to elicit a different response.

In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini takes an insightful look at the power of persuasion and what causes people to say yes (or no) to what you are offering.  According to Dr. Cialdini, one of the most potent weapons of influence is reciprocity.  Reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action. In other words, when somebody does something nice for us, we feel an obligation to return the gesture.

Some of the experiments involved offering someone a soft drink and then later asking the recipient to buy raffle tickets. The subjects who were offered the drink bought twice as many raffle tickets as the control subjects that were not offered a drink. In another experiment, tips increased significantly at a restaurant when the waitress left a complimentary mint with the bill. Tips increased even further when two mints were left.

Some ”acts of kindness” we might offer our patients:

  •  Offer to clean and adjust glasses for people who are just browsing
  •  Gift box with free solution, cleaning towels, etc.
  •  In-office coupons or discounts
  •  Free brochures and literature
  •  Starbucks gift cards
  •  Free Wi-Fi
  •  Complimentary coffee
  •  Give eye related toys to the little ones
  •  Walk an elderly patient to his/her car

It’s important to discern that while there is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift, there is no such pressure to purchase an unwanted commercial product.  Although we give a great deal to our patients, if our presentation communicates standard operating procedure instead of selfless generosity, our patients will see it that way also.  If our patients don’t perceive our actions as altruistic, from a social behavioral standpoint there exists no perceived obligation on their part to reciprocate.  I’m not suggesting anybody take this approach for strictly self-serving reasons.  If you approach this with exploitative motives, your patients will likely see through the facade and turn away.  While the law of reciprocity can be exploited and used to manipulate, you probably won’t find long-term success in that approach.  As health care providers, we routinely give to our patients in a spirit of altruism for the same reason we became optometrists: we like to help others.

Is there anything wrong with giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return …and the recipient responds by giving back?  I don’t think so.  I think this exchange appeals to the positive side of human nature. If you take this approach, maybe next time the previous exchange will go something like this:

Doctor: Would you like to order your contacts today Mrs. Smith?

Mrs. Smith: Sure. That would be great.

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
 
 

10/5/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

How often do you think about your experiences as a consumer? What comes to mind when you reflect on positive interactions? How about negative? I don’t know about you, but for me the negative experiences are much more vivid. Many of those interactions occurred with someone who was well... Read more


9/30/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

When I was a retail manager, this would happen to me often. An employee would tell me they didn’t complete an important assigned task, or they would call out for their shift. And I could see it from both sides. They had a lot of conflicting responsibilities that day and yet, this task would... Read more


6/23/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

School has ended and most of the world has opened back up. Many people I know have multiple weekend getaways, road trips and vacations scheduled because they are making up for lost time. You know what that means? We are surrounded by opportunities to sell sun!!!! The only problem is not... Read more


6/14/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

If you are recruiting staff for your practice, you are probably experiencing hiring woes. Some are new - it is a tight job market. Not everyone is able to go back to work depending on their individual circumstances and some employers need more employees than before to meet their current... Read more


5/5/2021 | Author: Nathan Hayes

With the spike in patient demand following the COVID-19 Pandemic, many owners are actively recruiting associate ODs to help carry their increased demand. And any owner looking to hire an associate right now knows that the market is tight.

My feeling is we have an outright shortage of... Read more


3/30/2021 | Author: Geronda Wollack

Managing your staff can be challenging! Am I right? Or am I right? Now, managing your staff and feeling confident with whether you are being compliant poses a different level of challenges. I will share a story to illustrate this challenge.

I had a consult with an Office Manager who... Read more


3/30/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

Signed into law on March 11th, 2021, The American Rescue Plan Act offers an extension to Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This provision added additional reasons the leave can be used as well as increasing the cap on eligible compensation for a tax credit.

FFCRA... Read more


3/12/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

What should a practice do when they have lingering product? Well, 1st we have to identify what lingering product is. In my world, lingering product includes all frames that have been sitting on the shelf for a minimum of 6 months. I like to evaluate product every quarter to identify... Read more


2/22/2021 | Author: Amy Alvarez

Maybe you’ve experienced some unpleasant events in your practice that you didn’t have a policy to cover, or you team is large enough that you vacation policy isn’t working anymore. Maybe you have never liked you scheduling and time management policy but do not know how to go about changing it.... Read more


1/14/2021 | Author: Ximara Vega

Every year people tend to make goals for the upcoming new year. Somehow a new year inspires others to reinvent themselves in some way and like most initiatives, they lose their luster after a few weeks. I was supposed have rock hard abs like 3 years in a row. If ever... Read more

© 2021 IDOC. All Rights Reserved