Staff Management

Lessons for the Optometric Practice from Ritz-Carlton

By Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD
and Jennifer C. Lane, OD

Synopsis

The Ritz-Carlton training program is legendary–for showing how to provide legendary service. Here is thebreak down of their training steps for an optometric practice.

Action Points:

HIRE WELL. Choose personnel who can deliver the service you strive for.
BE WELCOMING. Createa pleasant experience with friendly, proactive service.
RECOGNIZE THE CHALLENGE.Easepatients’anxiety when visiting the doctor.

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is known for the kind of service that makes each guest feel like a VIP. With this kind of service, it is no wonder the hotel has become synonymous with luxury. Your optometric practice doesn’t need to be luxurious, but it does need to keep patients satisfied and even exceed their expectations. Here is how my practice has taken lessons learned from Ritz-Carlton’s training program, and applied them in our office to better patient service.

Both of us have attended the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Academy. (Dr. Robertson attended several years ago and Dr. Lane later attended a local ophthalmology program that featured seminars from RC Leadership Academy.) Click HERE for a list of upcoming RC Leadership Academy programs including cost. We formatted from the RC program to fit the needs of our practice. We do not send our employees to these seminars, but we train them using a customized program developed from the RC program.

HIRE WELL

To stay competitive we must select the right people. That means hiring for attitude and training for skill. We hire people who agree with our philosophy of practice. We then set performance standards for them. That means setting performance benchmarks for where they should be after so many weeks or months of training, and we set monthly practice goals. We assign monthly online courses to complete in order to be eligible for bonuses. Then we specify consequences for behaviors. We hold people accountable for their actions and reward those who exceed the standards, and develop those who do not.

You have to hire people who are on board with the way you do things to begin with. RC does not hire anyone who walks through their door. They have a vetting process, and we developed a vetting process, as well, for our practice. Their process is proprietary and so is ours. But I can say that you have to seek out people who will work well in your organization and agree with your rules, policies and procedures before you hire them. We have at minimum 300 applicants for each open position. We have a telephone interview with about 50 and then we personally interview about 12 before we make a decision.
Employees Get Individual Goals

Employees are given individual goals to achieve and get rewarded on an individual basis. If an employee fails, we look at the cause and develop an action plan to help that employee. We do not emphasize punishment, rather we emphasize training and cooperation among our employees.

Each position has performance standards that must be attained. For example, a staff member checking in patients must greet the patient, make sure all the information is up to date and process them in a timely manner. The same goes for every other position. They are then enrolled in a training course for their position.
In addition, employees must complete their online course work every month to be eligible for their bonus.
The course work is provided by vendors, including but not limited to, Coopervision, Vision Source, Essilor and contact lens companies.

Review Service Lessons in Staff Meetings

I review lessons from Ritz-Carlton’s training program at least four times a year during our Wednesday morning office meetings. I ask if anyone has ever stayedat the Ritz-Carlton or knows anything about the Ritz-Carlton. The Ritz Canton has many advantages in that they charge a premium for their services and we have the limitations of insurance. That, however, does not mean we cannot provide superior service. I let my staff know: “It is not one thing, but it’s everything” meaning when patients look back at their experience in our office the overall experience, not just one aspect of it, should be positive.

Related ROB Articles

Front Desk Training: Prepare Staff for Challenging Conversations

Comprehensive Training: Prepare Every Employee to Deliver Superior Service

Needed: Competent AND Personable

Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD, and Jennifer C. Lane, OD, are co-owners of Jeffrey W. Robertson, OD, LLC., in Suffolk, VA To contact them: jwrod12@gmail.com.

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