6 Habits of Exceptional Patient Experience Leaders

To some, patient success management comes easy. You might be able to tell by the natural way they quickly and easily build relationships with their patients. They keep patients happy and they rarely leave for a competitor. Some of the most common habits for those individuals that help them with their successes aren’t soft skills. Instead, they are much more tangible skills that can be taught and practiced to help beginners or even those who have experience and are looking for improvement. According to Ron Lunan from Salesforce, here are the six habits that help contribute to the success of customer experience leaders:

1.) They Advocate

Every patient relationship should be a two-way relationship where the patient service professional is able to communicate with the patients, but also allowing the patient to be able to communicate back. The patient should always get the feeling that when they communicate to your organization their voice is heard, and input is considered when changes to the product or services are planned.

2.) They Address

There will come times where bumps in the road come up. Either issues with the product or service come up, or the patient experiences some sort of extenuating circumstance that impacts their success with your organization. These can be tough situations to deal with, but a good patient experience manager will address these issues head-on and make the patient feel at ease. If they have previously established a good relationship it can make these situations easier on both the patient and representative.

3.) They Own

When an issue arises it can be easy for the patient experience manager to shift it off to someone else whether that be a support team or doctor. However, the most experienced managers will do everything they can to try to address the issue immediately before handing it off to someone else. This can help build a trusting relationship between patient and manager as the client feels important when their needs are immediately addressed and that they have a capable, experienced manager ready to help.

4.) They Anticipate

Change is constantly occurring whether it’s to the product or service, organization, or even coming from the patient themselves. A good patient experience manager will be able to anticipate and communicate a plan of action for potential changes that may impact the product or service to minimize any negative implications. This could mean a plan of action for unexpected office closures, scheduling issues, etc. The more prepared you are for change the higher the patient satisfaction tends to be.

5.) They Teach

Keeping your client informed and up to date is a cornerstone to a good relationship with your patients. Not only should you be teaching them about your service or products, but staying up to date on the latest industry trends and topics and providing tips and tricks is a great way to build additional rapport. This can be achieved through various methods whether it be a trunk show with the latest trends in frames or being able to talk to a patient about a new procedure that may be a dramatic improvement over previous treatments.

6.) They Challenge

This trait can be critical to establishing the highest level of success with the patient. When you build a good relationship with the client and acquire a deep sense of understanding on how their needs impact their daily living you open the opportunity to challenge the patient into thinking in new or creative ways to maximize efficiency with your products and services to extract as much value as possible. For eye care practices this can be as simple as talking to the patients about blue light glasses if they work in front of a screen a lot or reviewing how to clean contact lenses if they are a new wearer to make sure they do not become irritating and frustrating to wear.

Your patient management staff may be a natural at this, but it’s always a good idea to be explicitly clear with your expectations of them. They are the main point of contact with your patients and with a little visibility and training if needed, you can have the best customer success team!

Patient Chat: Text Communications That Fill Your Exam Chair

Article originally posted on Review of Optometric Business Feb 20, 2019

By Susan Fairchild, office manager, and Miri Park, OD

When patients want to communicate in their personal life, they often send a text, rather than make a phone call. When scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or communicating about the arrival of their eyeglasses or contact lenses, they expect the same. They want the convenience of texting a quick reply, rather than making time for a phone call.

Fortunately, our patient communication system Prime Nexus allows our practice to do just that–text patients to schedule appointments and to let them know the glasses or contacts they ordered have arrived. The latest Prime Nexus feature, Patient Chat, takes this a step further by allowing us to have whole conversations by text. This not only saves myself, and our front-desk staff, time, but increases the likelihood of a prompt reply from the patient. That prompt reply, in turn, makes it more likely that the patient will schedule an appointment, and make it into our exam chair.

Patient Satisfaction, Staff Efficiency
The beauty of Patient Chat is it creates a win-win for patient and practice. I love that the technology allows me to hold as many texting chats simultaneously as I want, while showing me the history of each of those exchanges. I can see at a glance if another member of our staff has already responded, and what the patient’s, or our staff members’, last comment or question was.

Prime Nexus automatically sends a notice two weeks prior for patients to confirm upcoming appointments. Before Patient Chat, if a patient did not respond within 10 days (following another automatic confirmation sent by Prime Nexus), someone from our office would have to call the patient, often leaving a voice mail which many patients would miss, along with their appointments.

With the ability to send a simple text message, the patient is able to quickly text back, that they can, or can’t make it, and then text back and forth over a couple minutes to reschedule if necessary. The great thing about texting, rather than calling, is patients can text back in many situations they would not be able to answer the phone, such as when they are sitting in a meeting at work.

Texting Boosts Recall Effectiveness
Close to three-quarters of our upcoming appointments confirm via the automatic text, or e-mail, that Prime Nexus sends. The Patient Chat feature then takes the effectiveness of our recall to the next level by allowing us to follow-up when necessary via text, capturing appointments that otherwise would have been lost.

Prime Nexus provides our staff with notifications if a patient with an upcoming appointment has not confirmed, which then prompts us to follow-up. The ability to then text the patient, instead of playing phone tag with them, has resulted in a practice that is now almost entirely booked at least two weeks out. The fuller appointment books connects directly to our profitability, helping us not only offer patients a convenient way to communicate with us, but another way to increase our revenues.

Communicate Office Changes & Field Questions
Over the last year, our office moved to a new location. We set Prime Nexus to send reminder notifications to all patients an hour before their appointments, and to give them the address of our office. We pointed out in these notifications that our office location had changed. Patients then could easily text us to ask for directions if they weren’t familiar with the area that our new office is located in, or if anything else about our move confused them. Many patients noted to our staff that they were glad that we both automatically sent them the reminder about the appointment coming up in the next hour, and that the notification pointed out our new address.

Less Time Spent On The Phone Means More In-Person Time
When the staff is tied up on the phone confirming appointments and letting patients know about the arrival of glasses or contacts, they are not able to give as much attention to what’s happening right under their noses in the office.

With most communications for scheduling and product arrival now requiring no more than a couple minutes texting–if that–our staff can pay better attention to the patients in front of us. That means less interruptions in the optical while helping patients select all the eyewear the doctor prescribed, and more time to provide a hospitable and welcoming environment in greeting every patient who walks through our door. Now, newly arriving patients are less likely to find the receptionist on the phone and experience a positive first impression by being immediately greeted.

The Texting Solution We’ve Been Waiting For
We’ve used–and loved–Prime Nexus for years, but eagerly awaited the ability to go even further in our communication with patients with texting functionality. Patient Chat is the technology we’ve been waiting for, and it has far exceeded our expectations.

Patients hear from us, and respond, in as little as a minute, and those patients in our office have a staff that’s not preoccupied on the phone, and can give 100 percent of their focus to ensuring each patient has the best care possible.

Check out the article here

6 Reasons You Need Patient Chat in Your Optometry Practice

Consumers these days are pressed for time and are focused on convenience. One way you can meet consumer expectation is to use 2-way texting for communication. Here are 6 reasons you need patient chat in your optometry practice.


1. It’s the preferred method of communication for many

Six billion SMS (short message service) messages are sent every day in the United States, according to Forrester Research, and over 2.2 trillion are sent a year. Messaging is the new channel of choice, according to Twilio research, which states 89% of consumers want to use messaging to communicate with a business.

2. It’s less intrusive than a phone call

Nielsen research shows that Americans text at least twice as much as they call, on average. It’s easy for people to glance at a new message while in a meeting or watching a Netflix marathon when a phone call would normally be ignored.

3. It’s more immediate than an email

Do you want your patients to show up on time for their appointment, or just when they get around to it? That can be the difference between sending a text message vs an email. In fact, according to Mobile Marketing Watch text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 22% open rate. Text messages rarely go unnoticed or unanswered and are the ideal medium for reaching patients in a timely manner.

4. It’s a better customer experience

Forrester Research indicates that 77% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service. Rather than call in and be put on hold if a staff member is with a patient, patients could just text in their inquiry and go about their day. With more patient conversations happening over chat, it also frees up the phone for tasks that really need that live call.

5. It makes you stand out

A common theme among new competitors arising in the market is their use of digital technology to transform an entire industry (think Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb). The optometry industry is seeing its own slew of startup disrupters and in order to survive, independent practitioners need to pivot quickly in order to adapt to new consumer expectations. Eye care practices that can meet these new expectations stand out from the pack and make patients happy. Happy patients are more likely to leave good reviews and spread the word to their family & friends.

6. It adds a personal touch

Patient chat can supplement an automated messaging system by allowing you to have 1 on 1 conversation. If your practice is using something like Prime Nexus for automated appointment reminders and other notices, doesn’t it make sense to allow patients to reply directly to that reminder? It’s also the best venue for emojis like these:

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What is the difference between chat and text?

Chatting and texting are frequently used interchangeably but there is a difference. Texts are sent via SMS, which stands for Short Message Service. It is a universal technology for exchanging short text messages between a fixed line or mobile phone devices. Chat is done through an OTT (or Over the Top) application like iMessage, WeChat, Hangouts or Facebook Messenger and does NOT require a cellular connection, but instead uses an internet connection.

With our new Prime Nexus Patient Chat feature, you’ll be adding an OTT application to your office computer which will translate your chat messages into text messages. This combines the immediacy of texting with the accessibility of a central chat application and allows for 2-way texting from a computer to a mobile device. No need for patients to download another app!

>> Learn more about Prime Nexus Patient Chat


Sources
www.asktelemarketing.com/blog/2018/3/15/4-reasons-your-customer-service-should-include-sms
www.twilio.com/learn/messaging/what-are-sms-and-mms
www.teamhgs.com/blog/2018-trend-1-digital-channels-finally-overtake-voice
mobilemarketingwatch.com/sms-marketing-wallops-email-with-98-open-rate-and-only-1-spam-43866/
go.forrester.com/blogs/12-06-19-sms_usage_remains_strong_in_the_us_6_billion_sms_messages_are_sent_each_day/

Making Your Patients’ Experience as Seamless as Possible

In all areas of the service industry, consumers continue to look for the simplest, fastest, and most efficient experience possible. Whether it is the online portals for patient paperwork, the automated ordering kiosks at fast food restaurants or chat boxes on websites for help and support, processes are being streamlined to meet this need. Any shortcut a person can take to save time at the store, office, or restaurant is being utilized and businesses are delivering on this expectation.

The eye care industry should begin to follow these trends as well. It can be expected that patients will tire of the traditional appointment check-in process. Manual paperwork and information verification can be cumbersome for the patient and time consuming for staff, which in turn can make a seemingly simple eye exam take much longer than expected. How can your Optometry office enhance the patient experience to keep up with these expectations for faster, simpler and more efficient service?

Make Scheduling the Appointment Easy

The first step in the patient experience is the process of scheduling an appointment. With the shift to digital and all that goes with it, the new generation of patients expect to schedule anything and everything they can online. Therefore, to create a seamless experience it is essential to have an online patient scheduler where patients can see a doctor’s availability and select an appointment based on that. This allows a quick, easy and convenient way for patients to get themselves on your schedule.

Capture Patient Information and Confirm Electronically

A common concern with online appointment schedulers is gathering contact information and essential details needed for the visit. That is not always the case however, as most appointment schedulers and patient communication software will require that patients submit relevant information with their request. Many of these programs also provide the opportunity to remind a patient to complete paperwork and fill out information forms prior to the day of the appointment.

Additionally, an automated appointment reminder can produce monetary savings by reducing the number of “no-shows,” or patients who fail to attend their scheduled appointments. Surveys have shown that these types of reminders can decrease this “no show” number by up to 50 percent. Therefore, these systems save staff time and saves the office money as well.

Avoid Drawn-Out Office Visits

The technological advances in patient communication software make it increasingly simple for patients to complete and submit pertinent information prior to an office visit. Encourage your patients to save time by completing this information prior to a visit and help them avoid a longer office visit.

An E-Commerce Option for Lens Ordering

Provide your patients with an online option for ordering their contact lenses with a service such as LensFerry. Providing your patients with an e-commerce option for ordering their eyewear or contact lenses can save them time, and give them monthly payment options that they can afford. According to a recent study, mobile commerce is not just here to stay but will also grow dramatically over the next couple of years. The study projected e-commerce sales to reach $4.058 trillion by the year 2020. As of this year, projections are estimated for an already massive $2.860 trillion. (eMarketer, August 2016)

Many of the latest e-commerce options provide offices the ability to pre-load patient information and prescriptions to allow their patients a quick and easy online ordering process.

Want to create a seamless patient experience for your patients? Check out the EyeCare Prime suite of products that include Prime Nexus, great for streamlining your patient communications, and LensFerry, a must-have in this growing subscription-based economy we live in today. Lensferry is one of the rare services that can provide a new stream of income for your practice in today’s competitive environment.

Consumer Mobile Trends

Mobile devices have quickly become our go-to for a wide range of digital services that consumers rely on to help them accomplish more all day, every day. Mobile is becoming increasingly important, but it is about so much more than sending a text message or reading the latest issue of New York Times.

This change goes well beyond the use of smartphones — It’s a complete shift in the way people behave and how they think. As the digital world expands, consumers become accustomed to accomplishing tasks and finding information instantly, they expect immediate, always-available convenience. They want what they want immediately. Give it to them, and you’re a hero — and will receive their loyalty. Fail to deliver, and they’ll move on to another solution. To meet this rising demand, practices have to embrace their new imperative: Use technology to make their customers’ lives easier and shorten the distance between what customers want and what they get.

With mobile device usage on the continual rise, texting has emerged as one of the most efficient ways to communicate a message effectively. According to a study, mobile now represents 2 out of 3 digital media minutes and consumers spend five times longer messaging (texting) than they do on voice calls. This is true across all demographics. So, what does this mean for your practice? You should get on board.

Last year, mobile devices surged ahead of desktop internet usage. This indicates that practices should implement some type of mobile marketing strategy to align with the modern day consumer. An easy first step? Text messaging. Millennials exchange an average of 67 text messages a day, and older consumers don’t fall too far behind. The average open rate of a text is around 99%, compared to just 30% for an email. To reach a customer as quickly as possible, consider text over voice calls and emails.

With Prime Nexus it is now easier than ever to reach your patients and get the feedback and attention they and you deserve. With automatic and customizable text reminders for appointment confirmations and Rx pickup reminders, your office and staff will never miss a beat. Text your patient a customized, mobile friendly survey, that makes it easy for them to provide you feedback and share with others. Learn more about the most current patient relationship management technology in the marketplace by scheduling a demo today!

Resources:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2017/01/18/heres-how-texting-is-transforming-customer-service-and-customer-support/#fbe291836818
https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/03/u-s-consumers-now-spend-5-hours-per-day-on-mobile-devices/?utm_content=buffer2d573&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/293519?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email
http://www.business2community.com/infographics/text-marketing-vs-email-marketing-one-packs-bigger-punch-infographic-01249186#ZDkEbOCxiLMqzQgB.97
http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/
https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/mobile-marketing-statistics-for-2016
http://marketingland.com/digital-growth-now-coming-mobile-usage-comscore-171505

The Shift to Mobile Commerce

Technology continues to shift toward mobile and it is increasingly important to establish a presence amongst mobile solutions. In 2017, tablet and smartphone usage per user was over 3 hours a day compared to just 0.3 hours a day reported in 2008. Businesses are beginning to adopt this trend by launching mobile-friendly websites and adding text communication options for their customers. In addition, businesses are now acknowledging the value of adopting e-commerce options for their products.

Mobile commerce is becoming more important in the modern marketplace as tablets and smartphones are expected to account for nearly $132.69 billion in retail sales this year– almost tripling the number from just four years prior. Consumers are benefiting from the convenience of mobile commerce which has encouraged them to use it as a primary way to shop. However, these consumers aren’t the only ones who benefit from this movement to mobile commerce. If a business is to optimize their mobile presence to better reach their customers, they can benefit from the move to e-commerce as well.

User Convenience

A major benefit of mobile commerce regarding customer use is its ease and simplicity. Now you can shop for products with a smartphone or mobile device at any time of day. Consumers can access and purchase almost any product sold globally with the click of a button. Whether they see a commercial on their tv, see a billboard as they are driving along the highway or are introduced to a product through a conversation with a friend, consumers now have the power to purchase in the palm of their hand.
Consumers can also look up product information, reviews and other comparable items while they are in a store. This convenience has completely changed the shopping experience in a physical store. According to a 2014 study, almost 32% of shoppers admitted to changing their mind on purchasing a product in store after checking online information. 22% of the same shoppers chose to complete the purchase online instead due to the information they researched in store (Source: MobileCommerceDaily, 2014).

It’s Growing Rapidly

Mobile commerce is here to stay and is predicted to grow dramatically over the next couple of years. EMarketer suggests projected e-commerce sales to reach $4.058 trillion by the year 2020. As of this year, projections are estimated for an already massive $2.860 trillion. These projections create a huge incentive for businesses beginning to embrace the mobile trend and can predict a massive return on investment (eMarketer, August 2016).

Although the benefits are well reflected, e-commerce is still drastically under-utilized. According to a report from November of 2017, 74% of small businesses still lack an e-commerce presence. This presents a massive opportunity for small businesses to jump ahead of the curve and build a strong e-commerce presence.

Speed & Efficiency

The increased automation of e-commerce has affected the ease of buying and selling including the increased forms of automatic, single-click payments. The days of “cash or credit” seem to be over as more companies have transitioned to touch payment apps such as Apple Pay, Pay Pal, and Amazon Pay. It makes it easy for both buyers to make payments and sellers to receive those payments.
Although an initial investment is required to get a business up to speed on these trends, the return on investment and ability to keep up with online competitors outweigh this cost. With the growth potential and ability to reach your customer whenever and wherever, the benefits of e-commerce are undeniable. As society continues to adapt and grow their reliance on technology, it seems safe to say that these trends are not going away.

Five Habits of Exceptional Customer Service Leaders

Outstanding leaders in customer service share certain traits. Let’s take a look:

Good communication

Like any other relationship, a positive doctor-patient relationship starts with good communication. Listening closely to what your patients are telling you about their needs is essential. This includes paying attention not only to what they’re saying, but how they’re saying it–including intonations, facial cues, gestures, etc. When you respond, it’s important to speak directly to the needs your patient has expressed (as well as any issues you feel should be part of the discussion) in a polite, sensitive manner and in a way that he or she can readily understand.  

Setting the tone

As a customer service leader, you set the tone. Anything you do or say will have ripple effects throughout your practice.  Your staff looks to you for reference. If you demonstrate integrity and good sense in the way you face challenges—whether that means how you handle a difficult patient or a mix-up in scheduling–your staff is likely to reflect your attitude.  

Diplomacy

Sometimes being right means giving in—not because you’re wrong, but because putting the patient first may require it. So even if an office situation is not your fault, you may have to make amends—just so your patients continue to feel special and secure in the belief that their needs are always considered above your own.

Being a good boss

Outstanding leadership in customer service is not only about how you treat your patients; it’s also about how you treat your staff (“staff service”). Be patient, respectful, and communicative. Listen carefully to staff insights and concerns and show that you are genuinely interested. When your staff is happy and working in an environment of mutual respect, support, and trust–this transfers directly to their attitude with your patients.

In good company

Good leaders are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and will defer to others for advice whenever it makes sense. That’s why customer service leaders make it a point to hire staff made up of talented people with a variety of skills. All those strengths contribute to a practice that provides a welcoming and trustworthy atmosphere for your patients.

5 Tips On How To Communicate More Effectively With Your Patients

header-customer-communication

A recent study has shown that $41 billion is lost by US companies each year due to poor customer service. Another interesting statistic shows that 66% of customers switch companies due to poor service. These figures combined with some cut throat competition and a more discerning customer base gives rise to the need for effective communication. Communication is not just about training and preparing staff to provide the best customer service, it is more about communicating with the customer.

The 5 tips below will cast light on the journey to building better communication with customers, along with the benefits of each approach.

Tip 1: Communicate like a human being and improvise

A customer is not often thrilled about having to interact with someone who speaks scripted lines in monotone.  Memorizing scripts, greetings, apologies and showing false concern is something a customer will see right through. What really makes a difference to the customer is speaking in a more human and empathetic voice; adding a bit of humor doesn’t hurt either!

If a customer feels engaged and heard, there is a higher chance of them sticking with a business or service provider. Relationshipbuilding along with acknowledging customers, trying to solve their problems, regularly following up and asking for feedback are all key ingredients inherent in the secret sauce of effective communication. Customer satisfaction surveys are a great tool for collecting feedback and improving internal processes.

Tip 2: Keep customers informed

A great way to keep the customer abreast of new products and services is through frequent communication. Examples of effective channels are: blogs, website articles and newsletters or perhaps considering training sessions. Using multiple channels of communication is ideal, and organizations have a plethora of digital and social communication platforms available such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Not only are these mediums low cost and low maintenance, they also provide for a two way communication with the customer, and a faster means of customer feedback.

It is however essential to monitor social media regularly and ensure that feedback, whether positive or negative does not go unnoticed.

It is also important to ensure that customers are informed about any technical problems, outages or shortages. Being direct and upfront is appreciated by customers and it makes them feel important and consequently, leaves a good mark.

Tip 3: Give importance to complaints and avoid emotional responses

There is no denying that an outage or a dysfunctional product makes clients unhappy. As much as companies strive to do their best for customers, communication is not always well received. Criticism is inescapable and comments are sometimes harsh and degrading.

However, maintaining composure and taking time to react will go a long way in resolving a customer’s displeasure. It also helps to understand and acknowledge the problem, apologize for the inconvenience caused and to try and resolve the problem as quickly as possible. It is found that 70% of customers will return to a business if a complaint is resolved in their favor.

Tip 4: Keep pace with industry trends

Building better communication is a full time job and not something that should be done when companies have extra time on hand. It is not only important to regularly communicate with customers, but also to monitor the shift in industry trends and keep up with them. Falling behind will make communication methods seem outdated and will send a negative message to customers.

Make sure that communication is targeted towards the needs of the customer and strive to add value to them.  Keep pace with industry trends by reading blogs and online posts, participating in online forums and getting a pulse of consumer needs and expectations and responding to them appropriately.

Tip 5: Practice inbound marketing

Inbound or pull marketing is not just a great topic for a marketing lecture, it is a great tool implemented by emerging businesses to communicate with customers and keep them engaged. Inbound marketing is focused on making customers come to the business rather than interrupting their routine to show products and services. Traditional or outbound marketing focuses more on TV ads, blanket emails and mailers, whereas inbound marketing uses mediums like blog posts, videos and eBooks.

Inbound marketing is a great lead generator and costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. New and emerging organizations such as Hubspot and The Dollar Shave Club are interesting examples of organizations whose business models are built around inbound marketing. These companies focus on keeping the conversation going with customers by providing them with useful online content, thereby generating revenue for their respective businesses.

Focusing on the above tips will help strengthen communication with customers which will in turn help build strong relationships that are the core of outstanding customer service.  Better communication will also result in more customers recommending a business to others and will eventually contribute and maintain the bottom line of the business.