Colleen Hannegan: First Impressions

Colleen Hannegan

Make your patient the star of your show from the first point of contact.

This article originally appeared in the October 2016 edition of INVISION. This is the second part of a three-part series.

In the first part of this series, I shared the ideal whole experience we hope to be having with our patients. (Read it here: Much too often, though, we are not providing that ideal scenario. Fixing that means eliminating the circle of confusion and that starts with the first two of my 4 Point Formula for Focused Sales Success: Contact Point and Focus.


The moment patients contact you, their subconscious instantly forms an impression. Before conscious thought can decide if doing business with you is a good idea, they already have a feeling about it. So let’s consider how your patients feel about your office.

When they call, does your staff answer by the second ring, or do they fall into a voicemail black hole? Is your receptionist prepared to take patients’ messages as they are spoken or do you hear “What’s your name again?” or “Can you hold, I have another call?” too often?

If patients walk in as their initial contact point, does the entry look appealing? Is there a welcoming feeling, a smile from the receptionist? If not, you have blind spots. Patients want to feel special and that they’ve made the correct decision coming to you. Phones can be ringing, a patient may be complaining about his glasses, a staff member may have just called out sick, but if your receptionist is smiling through it, it sets a positive tone. When the phone rings, does the patient standing there still get the immediate attention he deserves, or has someone suddenly stepped in front of him?

Contact Point is about receiving; that’s why it’s call reception! We are receiving information patients give so we can solve their problems. Contact Point is the foundation of the whole circle. You only get one first impression.


The focus or “image point” of your office is the patient. If you think about your office as a movie set, the patient is the star. We understand this in theory, but making it a daily reality may be hard when staff is busy. Personal or business conversations in front of patients, or staff not checking with those waiting, create detachment. If patients feel ignored, it’s reflected in their purchases.

Focus requires attention and positive words that continually care for patients. It’s good vibes and caring conversation that fosters trust and shows them they made the right choice choosing your office.

Asking about their lives, or offering some water while they wait goes a long way. Letting them know much longer it will be, or if there’s a delay — all these ways of offering personal attention keep the focus where it belongs: on them. Be aware of situations that blur the connection. You’re holding your clients’ hands from start to finish. If your goal is to increase productivity, profits and positivity for all (of course it is!), your office needs to focus on one goal: patient care that will put you head and shoulders above your competition.

Colleen Hannegan, ABOC, has served in every capacity of the optical industry for more than 35 years. She now writes and lectures on all things optical. Visit for more info or contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..