Whenever a patient cuts ties with your eye care practice, you experience the negative impact of ignoring patient satisfaction. While some churn is an accepted part of running a practice, a high churn rate can cripple your growth.
Churn is closely tied to patient satisfaction and for obvious reasons. Dissatisfied patients are more likely to leave, and when they do, they take a piece of your revenue and reputation with them.
According to a report, a “totally satisfied” customer delivers nearly 2.6 times revenue compared to one who is “somewhat satisfied.”
Stats like these are compelling eye care practices to recognize the impact of patient retention on their top line and bottom line. They’re focusing on transforming patient experience to meet (and exceed) modern expectations.
What Kills Patient Satisfaction?
Ensuring patient satisfaction is just one of the many goals of every eye care practice. It enhances medical outcomes and strengthens your online reputation.
But what impacts patient retention and satisfaction? Is it price or quality of service? What factors make a patient dissatisfied with your brand?
Knowing your patients’ needs is crucial if you want to keep your patients happy and choose your brand over competitors every time. However, sometimes we tend to take for granted the smallest things that can turn patients off. There are plenty of things your staff may do that can kill patient satisfaction– even if they’re done with the best of intentions. Here are five of them:
1. Lack of Personalized Service
Your patients do not want to feel unheard or uncared for. They need personalized experiences that make them feel appreciated and understood on a 1:1 level. They want you to see them as an individual with unique needs and interests. If you want to keep your patients happy, you’ll need to take personalization to the next level. However, personalization shouldn’t just happen in email campaigns. Your invoices, letters, and any other kind of patient communication should also include personalized information. It’s not just about using a patients’ first and last name; it’s about addressing their specific health-related issues, making the best possible treatment recommendations based on their past visits, communicating with them in the language and the medium they prefer, and much more.
2. Long Wait Times
Patients get turned off by long wait times. According to a study, there’s a strong correlation between wait times and the star rating of the eye care practice. Doctors with the highest rating had an average wait of 13 minutes, while those with the lowest ratings had average wait times of over 34 minutes. Aside from the frustration of the wait, patients often see this as poor management. In some cases, the long wait time is indicative of how doctors prioritize patients and their care. Wait times are a visible indicator of a practice’s performance. Long wait times affect not just the perception of care but also the actual care that a patient receives. In fact, many patients tend to leave their optometrist’s office before being seen because of the wait time.
3. Poor Patient Support
Lackluster service will lower the patient’s satisfaction levels before you can say Yes, please. Part of the problem is that the majority of healthcare marketers believe their employees offer top-notch patient care and service, while just a small percentage of patients agree. Isn’t discrepancy an understatement here? Let’s admit it – patient care is hard. If anyone tells you it’s not, they probably know nothing about it. That’s why it should be done by the right people who know your services and are also fantastic problem solvers and communicators. Make sure your patient support team is equipped with the necessary tools and professionally trained to handle difficult patients. In the end, happy employees equal happy patients.
4. Failing to Take Accountability
Patients don’t expect perfect service. They know there will be slip-ups and errors along the way. What matters to them is how an eye care practice and its staff take responsibility. Do they reach out to patients, or do they simply run away? This dictates patients’ satisfaction level on their preferred eye care practices. It’s best to take responsibility when the need arises, apologize if required, and go the extra mile to satisfy your patients’ needs. If possible, offer refunds, free consultations, discounts, or waived fees to fix the mistakes and win back the patient’s trust.
5. Ignoring Patients’ Pain Points
Your unhappy patients are your biggest source of learning. You’ll see great value in a patient’s negative feedback if you approach it with the right attitude and a level head. Your patients are your best critics, and when they’re not happy with your services, they simply tell you where you need improvements. So why not use your patients’ feedback, even if it’s negative, to your advantage? Active patient engagement, taking their feedback — and acting on it! — is vital to the growth of your eye care practice.
Though you can count the reasons why your customers leave on the fingers of one hand, the major cause is but one — poor customer service. Instead of assuming that your patients are happy and satisfied, call them. Their needs are frequently changing. Call them to learn about the challenges they are facing and how you can help. Remember, these small problems, if not attended to, can negatively affect your patient volume, revenue, reputation, growth, and even your competitive edge.