As an office manager or marketing specialist, you have to continually come up with fresh, new ideas to expand your eye care practice. You made it through the worst of the COVID lockdowns (we certainly hope!) and you’re ready to attract new vision patients and increase revenue.
So, now what? How do you compete with all the online retailers that exploded with new business during the pandemic? How do you get in touch with patients who’ve fallen off your radar so they can schedule their overdue eye exams?
While it sounds intimidating to compete with the big, online retailers, here’s the thing: Brick and mortar eye care practices have an advantage over website retailers in several ways. One of the biggest ways is that you have the ability to foster lasting patient relationships, for families and the next generation of vision patients.
Here’s a list of some of the things you can start doing right now to attract new patients, rejuvenate existing business, and boost revenue.
Make it easy for patients to:
- Contact your office. Is your phone number big, bold, and easy to find on your website so new patients can contact you? Do you offer two-way texting so patients can quickly inquire about a service or product you carry, such as a particular brand of designer eyewear?
- Interact with you on social media. What’s your Facebook page look like these days? Have you been posting about monthly specials, discounts, or a new line of frames that just came in? Building a social media presence means patients can look for office hours on your Facebook page or see a picture of stylish frames on your Instagram account. Being able to interact with you through social media – where most Americans spend more than two hours a day – is a way for your practice to communicate, share information, and build patient relationships.
- Read positive reviews about your practice. Did you know that more than 90 percent of people say they trust referrals from friends and acquaintances? Or that more than 80 percent of happy patients are totally willing to refer their friends and family to your vision practice? If you’re not asking happy patients to leave online reviews for you, you’re missing out on growing your patient base! Getting more positive reviews can be as easy as asking and having patients answer a couple short questions after their eye exam or contact lens appointment.
- Book an appointment anytime, day or night. Do you have an answering service that takes messages for you after hours? Or do patients just leave a message after the beep with their name, phone number, and reason for calling, so someone from your team can call them back the next day? If you have an online scheduling system that patients can access right from your website, then they can request an appointment when it’s convenient for them, not for you. That’s important because many patients don’t like to wait around for someone to call them back. If you don’t offer online scheduling, they’ll be more likely to bounce from your website to find another provider who offers that convenience.
- Pay for services, frames, and contacts. Think about the payment options you offer. Is it easy for patients to pay their bill before they leave the office? Can they pay online or do they have to log in to a third-party website and create yet another account and password? Offering a digital payment option, such as a secure text-to-pay link, means you generate more revenue, while offering patients even more convenience.
- Reschedule appointments. It happens. Something comes up and a patient can’t make it to their eye exam. Is it easy for them to cancel and reschedule through an online or two-way texting communication platform? Allowing patients to cancel online and rebook themselves is ideal when you have a busy schedule and growing patient base.
- Fill out paperwork. Ditch the dreaded clipboard and offer an easier “paperwork” process. This is especially important in a COVID world, where patients are more aware of germs and sanitary processes than ever before. Offering a digital intake “new patient packet” is a great way to collect information from new patients and update existing ones, while minimizing the use of pens, paper, and clipboards. It also saves your practice money by reducing the need for supplies, and eliminates transcription errors.
- Ask questions about treatments or follow-up care. Can patients text your office when they have a question? Eliminating the need to make a phone call and navigate a recorded phone system message improves the patient experience and makes it much more personal. The majority of Americans prefer eye care providers who engage via texts. Using HIPAA-compliant, two-way patient communication software can be the difference between whether or not a new patient chooses your practice.
- Navigate your website. The average person spends just 1-2 minutes on a website. That means, if new patients don’t like what they see, or your website is too confusing, they’ll bounce to another practice website that’s easier to navigate. Additionally, if prospective patients are shopping for a new eye care provider and you don’t offer online scheduling, online payment options, or digital intake forms, they’re likely to find a practice who does.
Want even more insight into attracting new patients and increasing revenue at your eye care practice? Learn how to:
- Improve customer service
- Get more referrals
- Boost your practice reputation
- Use social media to bring in new patients
- Have a mobile-responsive website