This article originally appeared in the Nov-Dec 2014 edition of INVISION.Everyone is talking about digital environments and the pursuit of the Millennial generation. But smartphones have been around for seven years, and the iPad is nearing its fifth birthday. Why are we just now becoming focused on using mobile technology in our practices?
Many eye doctors still have analog practices, even as large and small retailers and many regional doctors’ alliances are taking full advantage of the customer benefits they can offer by digitizing their stores and practices.
Did you catch how I said “customer benefits?” Just as shoppers choose where to buy groceries or cars, people choose where to go for an eye exam and purchase prescription eyewear based on what they prefer, not the convenience of the doctor or optical store. It’s time for independent ECPs to prioritize our patients’ preferences. Here are four actions you can take to begin harnessing the power of digital technology for your office or optical store.
Create a practice website. This may sound elementary at the end of 2014, but you would be surprised at how many independent ECPs still don’t have a website, even though buying decisions are influenced far more by websites than by traditional forms of advertising. That’s why the website address is a standard feature in all modern print ads and broadcast spots. In fact, having a website isn’t enough; it’s increasingly important to be sure people can make appointments through it, too. Recent research shows 65 percent of all appointments made online were booked after 6 p.m., so your website is at least as important as your telephone.
Use a patient engagement system. These online subscription services help you communicate with your patients, using their preferences (text, email or phone). Nudge people to schedule their next annual exam, remind them about scheduled appointments, tell them their eyewear is ready for pickup, thank them for visiting your office. Patients value the immediacy and convenience of these messages, which can save you thousands of dollars in printing, postage and staff costs each year.
Be more sociable. According to a 2013 Pew Research study, 78 percent of more than 5,000 adult Facebook users said they get their news while on Facebook. It’s not that they go to Facebook for news; they get it while they’re there for other reasons. With people spending so much time in this social space, your business needs to be there, too. If you have not set up a Facebook account, do it today. If you have a Facebook account but no Facebook business page for your practice, then do that today. It is easy and free, and you don’t need to be personally active on Facebook to have a strong business presence. Once your page is set up, read Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk for its simple tips on how to effectively build your business using social media.
Digitally brainstorm with your staff. Want more ways to connect digitally with patients and potential patients? All you need to do is browse online or shop at the local mall. More and more businesses, online and off, are using technology to build an “omnichannel” experience and strengthen relationships with consumers. Hold a monthly brainstorming meeting with your office staff — maybe even take a field trip. Together, you can think of new ways to use technology to serve your existing clients and make it convenient for new people to choose your business over other options.
We live in a time of amazing technological change. Do you want to be someone who makes things happen, or one who wonders what happened? It’s time to embrace technology as an opportunity to provide better care and greater patient satisfaction.