I have been a long-time, loyal client of a local dry cleaner. A new owner (who I quite like) took over the service. However, it soon became clear to me that a pre-existing, long-term employee was not happy with this new owner.

One day, when collecting my clean clothes, the new owner was absent and the employee in question told me she disliked working there and asked if I knew anyone who was hiring. I suggested she send me her resume.

Our firm happened to be hiring and we interviewed her, but her qualifications were inadequate for our position and she was not offered a job. Since then I have encountered her again on a number of occasions and she remains unhappy and is unpleasant when dealing with me and other customers.

It’s possible she’s mad that we didn’t offer her a job. I hesitate to say anything to the new owner because this is a convenient location for me and I want to remain a customer. Yet, it is difficult to go to this business because of this employee.

Is this the fault of a bad new owner who doesn’t treat his employee well? Or, is this a disgruntled employee who’s angry she was not offered a job and free her from an unhappy situation? I don’t know the answer, but I know I’m not happy and may move my business elsewhere, despite the inconvenience.

When a business sells, a new owner brings new policies, procedures and an ownership style that might not suit some employees. They may become resentful about the changes being implemented. That resentment may negatively affect the new business. It’s a given that customer care and service is what makes a business successful. All it takes is one employee not providing the required customer care for a business to fail. My advice to the owner would be to terminate her, even though she was an ideal employee at this dry cleaner for many years.

In any health care practice, customer care is also crucial. My son, daughter-in-law and my three grandchildren have been loyal to the same dentist for more than 10 years. Recently, my son arranged appointments for two of my grandchildren, one at 5 p.m. and another a half hour later. There was some confusion about the appointment times, but my son looked through his messages and verified the 5 p.m. arrival time. Because he’s not the most efficient at managing the kids, he arrived five minutes late and was informed that there was only enough time to see one of the children because they had given away the 5:30 p.m. appointment to another client.

Like all young families, my son and daughter-in-law are very busy. They were upset that after 10 years of loyalty and many treatments—my grandkids have had substantial work done on their teeth—the office staff would treat them this way.

It’s possible that an administrative error occurred regarding the appointments, even if they had previously been confirmed. It happens. What was upsetting was how disrespectful the office staff was to a loyal patient and his family. My son was distraught when he relayed the story and told me that he changed health care practitioners.

The result: a young couple with three kids left their health care practitioner of more than 10 years and connected with another one closer to the family’s home. The new practitioner is thrilled to now provide services to this family of five for many years to come.

Appointment times can be confusing when texts, emails and other means of communication are used. When more than one staff member is working and reworking the appointment schedule, human error can occur. But upsetting a busy young man with family responsibilities, who’s been a loyal client for years, makes no sense. I would hate to calculate the amount of revenue lost by alienating and losing the opportunity to serve a growing family of five for many years.

TIMOTHY BROWN

is Chief Executive Office of ROI Corporation Canada’s national professional practice and brokerage firm.

Jackie Joachim, COO ROI Corp

JACKIE JOACHIM

Jackie Joachim is Chief Operating Officer of ROI Corporation. Please contact her at jackie.joachim@roicorp.com or 1-844-764-2020.


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The first face of your practice is, arguably from a customer service perspective, the most important. A friendly and empathetic first encounter can leave a lasting positive impression on your practice … or… it can go the other way and be the root cause of a nasty review on Yelp!

Using the scientific algorithm from Eyeployment.com, the behavioural characteristics of an “ideal candidate” can be determined with science.

Because of the way Eyeployment.com’s assessment engine has been designed, it is able to compare the personality traits and other attributes of an individual to those of people who have been high performers in a given role, and generate a FitScore™ that is a very accurate predictor of success in a particular role.

Ideal Candidate Traits: Health Care Receptionist

For each role in your practice, Eyeployment.com has identified the the ideal behvioural traits that can make the difference as to whether your new hire is a star or a passenger.

 Extraversion: Degree to which one requires social interaction and authority.

Perhaps surprisingly, a Receptionist position calls for people that display this trait less prominently than most people. The ideal candidate will likely follow group consensus when required to work in a group.

Agreeableness: Tendency to be friendly, approachable, and easy to get along with.

This position calls for people that display this trait like most people. The ideal candidate usually cooperates with others in order to ensure group harmony as long as their goals do not drastically differ from those of the candidate.

Conscientiousness: Tendency to strive for perfection, sometimes at all costs.

Receptionist positions call for people that display this trait like most people. The ideal candidate prefers to be precise in their actions, but can take the big picture into account when necessary.

Stability: Degree to which one reacts positively to negative or stressful situations.

This position calls for people that display this trait more prominently than most people. The ideal candidate is usually objective in their decision making and actions, even in trying circumstances.

Openness: Willingness to try new ways of doing things.

Receptionist positions call for people that display this trait like most people. The ideal candidate usually appreciates being able to try new methods, but is able to accept tried and true methods as well.

Resolve: Willingness to work for the intrinsic benefit of work and its ability to enhance character.

This position calls for people that display this trait differently than most people. The ideal Receptionist candidate tends to be passionate about their work and get a lot of enjoyment and pleasure out of it.

Reliability: Tendency to behave in an uncompromising and consistently honest, moral, and ethical manner.

Receptionist/Information Clerk positions call for people that display this trait differently than most people. The ideal candidate always follows through on their commitments to others to the extent they are in control of a situation.

Cooperativeness: Tendency to be friendly, agreeable, and to be a team person.

This position calls for people that display this trait more prominently than most people. The ideal candidate is generally not one to express their opinions unless absolutely necessary.

Above all else, don’t short-change the evaluation process if you are hiring a receptionist.   Using behavioural science can help you find the ideal candidate for this important position.

JAN G. VAN DER HOOP

Jan is the co-founder and president of Fit First Technologies, a company that applies its predictive analytics to the task of matching people to roles. Those algorithms drive platforms such as TalentSorter, FitFirstJobs and Eyeployment.com, which are relied upon by organizations to screen high volumes of candidates for “fit” in their open positions.


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Optometry has an advantage over many health care providers. Not only can optometrists diagnose issues, they are in the position to also provide the best solutions to meet the needs of their patients.

And one of the greatest needs of today’s patients is convenience. Online retailers have uncovered the patients’ desire to be presented with the option to have glasses delivered directly to the patient’s home. It is simply about convenience. While for some, convenience may fall into the “want” category, there are far more who value convenience as a need. Consider the situation for single parents, parents who both work, students who are going away for school, and so on. For them, having their glasses delivered right to their door is an invaluable time saver. If the glasses need adjustment, they can pop in when they have time.

Consumers are also seeking more transparency in the cost of eyeglasses. Many still seek a branded product but it is much harder to compete when they are readily available to shop in big boxes and online. Assuming that your service makes up for any price discrepancy is a mistake that will continue to erode your optical sales. Instead, create a pricing strategy and signage that easily allows patients to understand their options, including value priced and multi-pair savings.

With the introduction of the Smart Phone, there are few people who don’t manage much of their lives through these devices.  From booking appointments to receiving and sending texts about products and appointment times, the average consumer now expects this convenience. When selecting a restaurant, consumers Google to see what their choices are and often choose the restaurant that allows them to make a reservation online. It is just more convenient and saves time. Receiving a text that an appointment is coming up or that glasses are ready is far less intrusive than answering a call or listening to a voicemail. Patients prefer this experience. It can be a differentiator – a reason to switch offices and try something new.

As we help optometrists plan for and open new clinics, we spend a lot of time discussing what the experience will be like in their office. We keep our clients focused and coming back to the patient’s experience when they interact with the office. With so many choices, it is imperative that optometric practices seek to stay current and offer the experience that patients are drawn to; convenience, clearly articulated choice and use of technology to make interactions with the office more streamlined and efficient.

 

KELLY HRYCUSKO

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com.


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One of the more difficult situations to handle is a customer who can’t decide whether or not to buy.  Their indecision can cause a lot of frustration for staff, particularly if other patients are waiting for help.  There are a number of strategies that can help alleviate the stress of this bottleneck.

The first step is to make sure that your offerings are clearly laid out, including costs.  Create pricing tools that offer choices in different categories.  For example, clearly show your customers the cost difference between lens technology and material options.  Highlight what other features are available, including photochromic material and anti-reflection coating.  With the choices clearly laid out, it will be easier for the client to select what makes the most sense for them, in terms of benefits and price.

Make sure your staff understands the difference between a feature and a benefit.  While anti-reflection is a feature that is offered on most lenses, the benefit to the patient is being able to see better, particularly at night, which is a common patient complaint. In their own words, staff can explain that by way of letting more light through to the back of the eyes, anti-reflection coating can actually help patients see better!

Story telling helps illustrate the benefits most effectively.  If your staff has a personal experience or anecdotal experience from another patient that helps highlight the benefit of a product, encourage them to share it with patients.

Offering a satisfaction guarantee can also help move the needle.  Patients who are well informed will make a great choice for themselves. Being able to make a clear, informed decision also reduces the risk of buyer’s remorse.

Demonstration can be an incredibly powerful tool. Have a pair of polarized sunglasses and a pair of tinted lenses for demo purposes only. Invite patients to take both pairs outside and see the difference for themselves. Experiencing the benefit for themselves can help the patient arrive at a decision.

If a patient is having trouble narrowing down their frame selection, there are strategies that can assist them in the process of elimination. Use a decorative shopping tray in which to place all the finalists. Which is your least favourite between these two choices? Is it fair to take that one out of the decision pile? Once you have narrowed the selection to two or three, sit down with the client to discuss primary and secondary pairs of glasses.

Contact lenses are a commodity product. They can be shopped and purchased easily from many different sources.  Price is usually a deciding factor. Be sure to inform patients about rebates, as many are unaware of them and it can be the reason they decide to buy. For convenience, also offer to ship the contacts directly to the patient’s home.

Most ODs are selling drops and vitamins as a convenience for patients. It is important to stock this product in different price points and break it down to a cost per day for the patient. Stocking these products also reinforces the importance of the recommendation. Like contact lenses, many of these products are a commodity, so offering selection and choice helps the consumer to feel more confident in their purchase.

Practitioners who offer specialty services like Vision Therapy or Customized contact lenses, can face skepticism and price objections. Particularly if the service is new to them, the patient may lack confidence in the effectiveness of the intervention. Testimonials on the website and in writing can help build confidence and make the decision-making process easier for the patient.

With all of these strategies, the key idea is choice.  Take the time to review all of the choices and you will encounter fewer indecisive clients.

 

CHRISTINA FERRARI

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at info@simiinc.com


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Now that I’m retired, I can ask people the question that we optometrists would like to ask, but are uncertain if we would get an honest response: What don’t you like about your optometrist or the optometric experience? Some of the responses I got were expected, but some were a surprise.

Optometric literature is big on the doctor delegating tasks to staff members to free up time. One friend said that when she lived in New Jersey, her optometrist did all of the exam himself. He only had staff do the visual fields test when necessary. When she retired to Florida, her new optometrist delegated the majority of the exam procedures to his employees. My friend was not too thrilled about that. She said she felt uncomfortable with technicians doing procedures that her last optometrist did himself.

A major concern of my friend’s was how much training the technicians had. Did they have formal schooling or did they just learn on the fly from another staff member? “It is a little unsettling to not know how qualified the person is who is testing your eyes is,” she said. “Maybe it is my fault for not questioning it/them, but I have to wonder if I am the exception or the rule on not being familiar with their qualifications.”

New Jersey’s doctors seem to have a leg up on Florida’s. Another friend mentioned that her New Jersey eye doctor let her know what tests he was preforming and the reason behind each test. Her Florida doctor does not. She preferred to be informed and not left in the dark.

Equipment and technology are also a concern for some of my friends. Some people like up-to-date technology, while others feel that some of the “machines” are a waste of their time. One friend said he felt that he was exposed to a certain procedure just so the doctor could bill his insurance to pay for his new expensive machine. He was supposedly the only eye doctor in Florida with this new machine, so obviously most doctors did not think this procedure was necessary for a routine eye exam. Evidently, he was not impressed with the latest and greatest technology.

He, and other friends, mentioned a few pieces of equipment, in particular, as sources of irritation. The visual fields test was boring (“something has to be done to speed it up”), the bio-microscope is a poor design for a well-endowed woman (a friend said she felt like she was getting a mammogram having to push into it). No surprises with this one–NCTs should be retired. NCT haters would much rather have their eye numbed and have the tonometer probe pushed into it.

The optical also generated a few comments:

“Why do you have to ask for your prescription? Shouldn’t they just automatically give it to you like your medical doctor use to do before EHR became the norm? The staff makes you feel uncomfortable asking for it.”

“Why are glasses so expensive at the doctor’s office when you can get two pairs and the exam for $59 at another establishment? What gives with that?”

“If you do purchase at the doctors office, they like to push extras on you; whether it be second pairs, prescription sunglasses, specialty glasses or extra lens treatments.”

Perhaps having your optical staff on commission, or eligible for bonuses based on sales performance, is not a good thing if your patients feel they are being pressured to buy more than they had planned.

One friend noticed that she experienced a difference in treatment if she had a prescription problem with glasses she purchased from the doctor whose office she was at, versus if she purchased them from another source. If the glasses were purchased from the doctor, she got immediate service. A staff member would recheck her vision and verify the prescription. This was not the case if she had her prescription filled elsewhere. She felt she had no recourse if the prescription was wrong, but not purchased at the prescribing doctor’s office.

The optical is not the only place where the hard-sell can be a problem. One friend commented that her eye doctor has an interest in an eye vitamin business. ”He really pushes patients to purchase his ‘wonderful’ vitamin product,” my friend said. “They are quite pricey ($50 a bottle, I believe). I don’t ever remember being solicited at any other eye doctor I’ve been to, and since I don’t really like a hard-sell approach from sales people in general, I don’t appreciate being strongly encouraged to buy eye vitamins from him when I am in there for my routine eye exam.” It sounds like this doctor needs to back off a bit. No patient wants to be strong-armed by their doctor into making an unwanted purchase.

Finally, my friends mentioned that they felt strongly that insurance plans should not dictate their eye doctor. They said it’s frustrating to really like a doctor and then have their employer change insurance plans to one their eye doctor doesn’t accept. In addition, they noticed the inconvenience of being referred by their eye doctor to a specialist who is not on their insurance plan, and, therefore, not feasible to see.

Overall, I don’t think we fared too poorly. Some of these issues could probably be resolved by taking the time to explain things better. Others, like the insurance complaints, we have no control over.

“I have no negative issues – would just go elsewhere if that happened,” one friend told me. That’s something to keep in mind.

DIANE PALOMBI, OD

Diane Palombi, OD, now retired, owned Palombi Vision Center in Wentzville, Mo. To contact her: dlpod1@hotmail.com


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