doctor shaking hand with patient

Why ODs should invest in their patients and community

January 19th was "get to know your customers day", and we believe that it is important for ODs and their practices to get to know their patients and be involved in the community. Here are a few reasons why:

Relationships will set you apart from your competition.
Developing personal relationships with your patients, especially ones you see regularly, will help you stand out among your competitors. Developing relationships with patients could be a receptionist who greet each person with a smile and offers to bring them a coffee or tea after checking them in. It could be jotting down personal details from your conversation with each patient in their file, such as their wedding anniversary date or the location of their cabin they go to every summer weekend, so you can mention it in conversation the next time you meet. In the optometric industry, knowing details about your clients personal lives could even help you understand what type of eye care they need. Ensuring personal and quality service also means hiring and training employees to actively listen to each patient and follow through with their promises. An attentive, genuine staff who are also good at their jobs is something customers will know is rare in any industry.

Feeling known keeps people coming back.
According to the White House Office for Consumer Affairs, it can be six to seven times more costly to reach new customers than it is to retain current customers. One of the best ways to ensure your patients continue is to work at developing personal relationships with each one, letting them know that they are not only receiving the best industry care, but also your genuine care and interest in them as individuals.  Just one negative experience with your office could be enough to send a client to another clinic, so take customer satisfaction surveys often. This will help you know what areas your business is excelling in and where you could improve to create increased customer satisfaction and keep patients coming back.

Community service could save marketing dollars.
Being actively involved in the community your practice is located in gives you an easy opportunity to market your business. Evaluate the city(ies) your business serves and decide where you help is most needed. Does the animal shelter need dog walkers? Or does the elementary school need new textbooks? Is the food shelf low on donations? Pick your cause and create your own small fundraising project or volunteering day. Short on time? Participate in a charity event hosted by the community, such as a walk to end Alzheimer's or local school fundraiser. Any of these options will show both your patients and the community that you care about the people who live in it. It can also gain your business exposure to potential new patients and employees. Since the Pulse Survey taken in 2011 says volunteering and corporate social responsibility can determine up to 40% of a company's reputation, you've only got good things to gain.

The Minnesota Optometric Association has approximately 400 member doctors of optometry around the state. The MOA is committed to furthering awareness of optometrists as primary eye care or family eye doctors and to bringing about change that positively impacts the MOA member doctors and their patients.

January 23, 2017