(Published by OWA One Minute Mentor)
I was recently presenting continuing education to a group of opticians in Eatontown, NJ when Martha, a hotel staff member who was assisting in getting the room setup, began to share her experience with her eyeglasses with me. “I got new glasses, but I don’t like them as well as these” (referring to the glasses that she was wearing). I asked her if she told the doctor who she got her new glasses from that she was unhappy. “No, I will never go to that eye doctor again. Who do you recommend I see the next time?” she replied.
The truth is that over 90% of patients are “Marthas”. They don’t complain if they are unhappy with their eyewear or service-they simply don’t come back. In addition to not returning, an unhappy patient will share the bad experience with an average of twelve people.
What is the cost of an unhappy patient?
Let’s do the math:
- What is the average cost of an eye exam, including refraction?
- What is the typical dollar amount a patient spends on eyewear per visit?
- Add these numbers together and multiply by 5 (the number of times a patient would be seen in your office if they come every two years for ten years).
- Next, multiply this number by 12 (the number of people who won’t come to your office because they heard the experience of the unhappy patient).
This number is the financial effect of an unhappy patient in your office over a period of ten years. Are you surprised?
So, what are the two words that should be used when a patient complains? “Thank you.”
Looking the patient in the eye, sincerely saying “thank you” followed by “I appreciate you giving me an opportunity turn around your experience with us” along with a quick solution to the problem works wonders towards salvaging the patient’s confidence and making a life-long patient.