Paul M. Stubenbordt focuses his blog on what steps a practice can take to optimize traditional and Internet marketing, public relations, social media as well as non-traditional marketing tactics that can help maximize your current practice development program.

When customer service is not enough

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about customer service. I too have written many articles on this topic and advised many clients to take the necessary steps to improve their internal approach to maximize patient satisfaction.

However, customer service is just a piece of the puzzle; a practice needs more than a surgeon and a coffee pot to become successful. Optometric liaisons, external marketing, increased web competitiveness, improved staff training, technological advantages and positive online reviews are also part of the overall marketing package.

A practice approached our firm and requested that we come in and help with customer service. Their reasoning? Make things so appealing, so pleasing and so wonderful that patients would talk and talk, creating positive word of mouth referrals.

Their problem? I should say problems, as there were several. The practice had staff members who were not nice and were poorly trained. The practice did not offer premium lenses for cataract patients. The website was over 10 years old with poor content. They had several negative online reviews, which in turn gave the practice bad word of mouth.

The practice had a lot of work to do and several obstacles to overcome, and the construction of a solid foundation was desperately needed. We told the practice that premium coffee and cookies didn’t matter if the practice had all of these other issues. We were unable to take on the account, because I knew we could not help them when they persisted in “putting the cart before the horse.”

Does it matter?

To reiterate some advice from my previous article on customer service:

“Everything matters." — Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks

It really does. Everything matters. Everything is tied together. Everything is analogous. I like to think of any business as a living thing, an organism with a respiratory system, a cardiovascular system, a digestive system, etc. If any one system is malfunctioning, then your business is sick. If any one system ceases functioning altogether, then your business dies.

If you really want to take a hefty market share, then first look at your staff. Are they well trained? Are they polite? Do they interact well with patients? Does your practice offer the latest technology and the expertise of great surgeons? Does your practice have a solid marketing plan that consists of internal marketing, external marketing and optometric outreach? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you should be concerned.

Yes, it takes a seemingly insurmountable amount of work from the physician, administrators and employees to make everything click. Just remember that it is not insurmountable — we triumph over disorder in business every day through careful planning, clearly defining goals and working smarter, not harder.