York Eye Care associates, the offices of Doctors’ George and Joan Hayes, a husband and wife practice, with 2 locations providing the best in patient care since 1978! Whenever you ask someone about vision, one of the first thoughts that come to mind are 20/20, a term used to express normal visual acuity (the clarity or sharpness of vision) measured at a distance of 20 feet. Now, when we ask this husband and wife team this very same question, the response was — “Hindsight!” Why this type of response? Well, let’s first take a look at its’ meaning: “A phrase used to describe the fact that it is easy for one to be knowledgeable about an event after it has happened.”
Now, why did these vision care experts use a cliché statement associated with sarcasm about vision? Well, one of the universal truths of the optical business is that you have very little time to educate your patients. Like all businesses, there is a huge amount of energy, money, and anxiety tied up in getting new patients to come to your door. However, there is little to no systematic approach to continually educating your patients at each contact point, with the most important point of contact being the telephone.
Your telephone is one of the most effective, yet least expensive practice marketing tools available – if you are using on-hold marketing messages! It’s crucial to remember that every caller, whether or not they are existing patients or parents, could react to a need for your services, either for themselves, their child, a friend or an acquaintance. Therefore, it’s pretty safe to say that targeting your eye care practice information to a pre-qualified callers will produce the best results for your marketing dollars.
“We really didn’t think much about the on-hold time for existing or prospective patients, and we also felt pretty confident that everyone knew what treatment options were available from our practice, after all we’ve been in business for 35 years.” … So, here comes the reasoning behind that hindsight is 20/20 response from Doctors’ Hayes. “In the perfect practice, you would never place callers on hold, but No practice is perfect, however, so it pays not to overlook the importance of what callers hear when they contact your practice.” Dr Hayes discovered this for himself, when one day while out of the office he called into his practice to speak with his office manager, and even though he is the owner, he had to placed on hold. The result? Dr Hayes, waited on hold for over a minute in absolute dead-silence. This got him to begin thinking like a prospective patient, and he had thought to himself, that if he were the prospective patient on hold, he would have hung-up by now and called somewhere else. Can you say “ah-ha” moment!!!
Research has proven that, for prospective patients, what happens in those first 60 seconds is critical, and can mean the difference between requesting your services or hanging up the phone. When you place your callers on hold, what do they hear? Are you advertising for other practices by playing a radio station while on hold or frustrating callers with “dead” silence? Maybe you feel you don’t place patients on hold often enough to consider on-hold messages?
Think again, on average 70% of your calls will be placed on hold. Your patients can and will be placed on-hold for a number of possible reasons:
1) they are waiting to speak with someone when they first call in, and the receptionist is busy.
2) they are being transferred to the appropriate staff member who can answer a financial or insurance related question.
3) they are waiting to talk to a staff member or doctor that maybe with a patient
4) they are waiting while a member of your staff is getting information or pulling their chart .
Never just let patients wait in silence, use on-hold time to speak to them! In fact, messages on-hold (educating and marketing to callers on hold) is a under-used tool that enables you to speak to your potential patients and patient family one on one, and provide useful information about your practice, services, staff, and unique image.
Here are just a few examples of vital pieces of information that you can pass along via on-hold messaging:
1) spark their interest about your latest eye wear brands and/or special offers
2) inform them about your office hours and days in the office; scheduling and appointment policy;
3) answer your most frequently asked questions;
4) remind them about your Web site, online ordering for contact lenses, online appointment scheduling, new patient registration and more.
5) educate and inform the callers about your practice, your services, and ask for their valuable referrals
So, let’s go back to the statement “hindsight is 20/20” … As Dr Hayes discovered first hand, caller’s do get placed on hold at his practice, and silence on hold wasn’t doing anything to convey the feeling of the type of practice in which prospective patients are dealing with, nor helping to grow his practice. Dr Hayes states: “ On hold marketing is something we should have implemented a long time ago, but hindsight is 20/20. So, any practice that wants to create a positive impact and caller experience at their practice should have a professional music and message on hold system in place”.
If you own or operate an eye care practice you take care the vision needs of your patient’s, and at The Original On hold Inc., we’ve helped the marketing vision of thousands of eye care professionals over our 23 year history. Let us help yours too!