By ROB Editors
Sept. 21, 2022
Customer experience, or patient experience, as it is known in healthcare, is essential to building a profitable practice. The best of care will be subverted by an unpleasant experience in an OD’s office.
After spending so much time home-bound during the pandemic, people now expect more when they leave their homes. When they visit a healthcare provider they expect both expert care and advanced technology, in addition to the same high-level customer experience they would receive at their favorite stores or restaurants. Savvy companies, like Tesla and Warby Parker, have caught on to these new expectations, and are running with it.
Tesla challenged the model of car dealership buying. Instead of people cringing with salespeople at a dealership, they want to linger in a Tesla store. Even Warby Parker, when going to brick-and-mortar, chose to create their stores as immersive experiences.
At ZEISS VISION EXPERIENCE practices, in which new offices get the support and resources of a trusted, international brand, an open-plan layout and mindset greets patients. The ZEISS VISION EXPERIENCE’s Pearland pre-testing rooms are similar to other trends, like open kitchens in fine dining, because patients/consumers will engage more and pay more when they are impressed with the skill and technology that used to be hidden in a back room.
Those are just some of the ways businesses, including eyecare providers, are taking customer service to the next level. Here is what a few ROB contributors told us about how they are making their patients’ experience in their office happily memorable.
Train Staff to Be Customer Service-Oriented
“No matter where a patient is in the office or what they’re doing (engaging with our front-desk staff, seeing a doctor, trying on frames or doing anything else), they should be promptly taken care of and made to feel welcomed,” says Jessica Crooker, OD. “With that in mind, there are a few best practices that I train our staff to embrace. I ask staff to smile while answering and talking on the phone. As the first patient touch-point, we never want to sound negative, too busy or seem like we’re having a bad day – patients can pick up on that even when they can’t see you. Smiling while talking makes a person sound more upbeat.”
In addition, Dr. Crooker says it’s important to train for self-awareness. “I also train our staff to be mindful of how they’re indirectly interacting with patients in the office. What I mean is if a staff member is standing around and/or talking to a colleague and a patient walks by, that indirect patient interaction could impact the overall patient experience. The patient may feel like they’re going unnoticed, or the patient might think our staff is too chatty/doesn’t have enough work. The behavior our patients observe matters, so it’s important that employees have self-awareness about how their actions impact our patients, even when they’re not directly engaging with patients.”
Leverage Trusted Brand to Create Modern, Friction-Free Experience
Sometimes, delivering a topnotch patient experience comes down to having the support you need. Such was the case for Joseph Nguyen, OD, who opened a ZEISS VISION EXPERIENCE office in July 2022.
“We aimed to develop our image as a “traditional family eye clinic” while blending in a modern and high-tech look. It was important for us to do this without losing our traditional approach of serving patients as if they are members of our own family,” says Dr. Nguyen.
He says that the new office provides a thoroughly modern patient experience while delivering an impressive level of care. “Fortunately for us, our ZEISS Business Development Specialist was familiar with our practice history, our practice goals and overall philosophy. Working closely with ZEISS’ award-winning architect, we developed a perfect, co-branded store concept that represents an ideal marriage between tradition and advanced technology. This is perfect for patients who are looking for “family style” service with state-of-the art technology,” Dr. Nguyen emphasizes.
Part of a great patient experience is having a highly pleasing aesthetic in the office. He says that ZEISS presented the practice with a unique store design featuring stylish curves, innovative materials, dramatic lighting and a futuristic white and blue theme. “These design touches are designed to give our patients a serene experience underscored by the kindness and mindfulness that are the hallmarks of our practice,” he says. “ZEISS provided us with all the information, support and training we needed to feel comfortable about our decision and to achieve our goals.”
Dr. Nguyen says his team’s goal is for their ZEISS VISION EXPERIENCE to become the most recognized practice in Pearland, and to increase their brand visibility throughout the Houston community. “Having ZEISS as a partner will make this a much more achievable goal,” he says.
The new office creates the kind of friction-free experience that patients expect, given their experience in other modern businesses. This kind of experience is what will pull his new office ahead of local competitors, and even online retailers. Why buy online, when you can have the kind of experience Dr. Nguyen and his team can now provide?
Make Shopping Easier & More of a Pleasure
The days of people patiently wading through cluttered merchandise are over. The clean, minimal aesthetic of the Apple stores, among other retailers, has changed the expectations of consumers. That means providing easy-to-navigate, open spaces for your patients.
That’s what Davis Capaccioli, OD, did. When he remodeled his new practice’s office, he did it with creating a true 21st shopping experience in mind.
“I purchased my office building from an ophthalmologist in 2021. I initially wanted to keep my costs down, and, so, was not planning to remodel at all for a few years. However, after further consideration, I realized that I needed to create a better retail experience if I was going to be successful selling high-quality frames,” Dr. Capaccioli explains.
He decided the remodel, along with other improvements like better lighting, were worth the gamble of a higher upfront cost for a better patient perception of his practice and better retail experience. It also would enable patients to better appreciate the gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains which Dr. Capaccioli has from his office.
“The remodel took just one month and cost us $50,000. I delayed my opening by a month so I could complete this project,” he shares. “Patients often compliment us on how open the office feels, and they love the views. It gives the office a modern feeling that goes well with our technology-forward practice brand.”
The proof is in the profitability. “I have already surpassed my expectations in glasses sales, and noticed many positive online reviews on my optical alone,” Dr. Capaccioli says.
When you have a well-trained team, the resources to create a smooth, high-tech experience and an optical that is a breeze to shop in, you have a sure-fire route to patient satisfaction and high profitability.