When a Patient Wants to be Done with You – and it’s Actually a Good Thing

by | Nov 17, 2021 | Business Management, Sales

Through the next few articles, I am going to delve into the customer journey—but if you’re like me (and most other people), you probably just want to skip to the end and find out where the journey wraps up. Before you can understand the ending, you need to know what the customer journey is. I’ll start there—and then I’ll shoot to the ending to discuss where all customer journeys should lead. 

First things first: What is the customer journey? 

The way I think of it, it’s the entirety of your patient’s experiences as they move through your practice, through the lens of the patient accomplishing their goals. These experiences can range from physical, like your waiting room furniture, to the less tangible, like how often your staff smile, to the procedural, how do staff perform a sales presentation, and anything in between. It becomes a journey when you put all of these together into a story from the customer’s perspective that begins with “I’m going to interact with this business because I have a problem”—and ends with—“I’ve achieved my goals and am fulfilled.”

You probably agree that the customer journey is important to consider from a service perspective—but it can be difficult to determine which processes in the journey need to be changed and why. Not every bad touchpoint is easy to spot. For example, an owner of a high-class restaurant would obviously notice if her staff started using paper towels for napkins, however the slightly wobbly tables may go unnoticed despite being equally detrimental. Similar blindspots might exist in your practice, and in my experience I see them most often in the process of how a practice sells to their patients—which conveniently for this article is at the end of our typical patient’s journey.

Start with the end in mind

Consider your own experience as a customer. Imagine you’re taking your vehicle in for an oil change and routine maintenance. You’re not sure what needs to be done, but you have 100,000 miles on the vehicle so you know it likely needs some service. Sure enough, the service technician tells you your transmission fluid should be flushed.

Realize it or not, you’re now in the midst of a customer journey in that garage—so let’s think about what your goal was and how this garage helps you accomplish it. At first you might be tempted to say that you needed an oil change, but I would say the more precise answer is that you wanted the garage to fully-service your vehicle to the extent that you did not need to worry about it for a while. You want to check off “vehicle” from your mental checklist so you can move on to the next thing you need to accomplish, and you want to reasonably assume it won’t show up on your list again for as long as possible.

Your patients have “vision” on their mental checklist

At the end of the day, your patients want to be done with their “vision” when they leave your practice. Sure, people want to come through your office and experience friendly staff, a competent doctor, a clean building—all those parts of the customer journey. But their goal is to not have to worry about their vision, they want to check it off their list, so how do all of the elements of your customer journey come together to fulfill that goal? 

That’s the focus of my upcoming articles, but you can see how framing it in this way helps you make the decision of what is an important part of your customer journey, and what is not. Now I want to turn your attention to that very end, the completion of their journey—buying what they need to fulfill their goal of checking “vision” off their list. 

Not purchasing from you is a failure of your customer journey

I know that sounds harsh, but I want it to be a reality check. In the context of contact lenses, when a patient does not purchase from you, they have kept “vision” on their mental checklist. A customer had a problem, and they did not fulfill their goal with your business. 

Avoid the natural reaction to place the blame on your patients, I can telepathically sense the response “pricing is the issue, we can’t compete with cheaper competitors.” But if this were true, then the following facts don’t add up:

  1. The vast majority of new accounts prior to signing up for LensQuote are priced lower than 1-800 Contacts, and yet selling less than 50% annual supplies (national average is 35%)
  2. 1-800 Contacts is by far the industry leader in online contact lens sales, yet they are nowhere near the cheapest online seller

If price truly mattered most to patients, those statements would be impossible. Those practices should be selling nearly 90% annual supplies based on price alone, and 1-800 Contacts should be falling far behind its lower-priced competitors. Lesson: price is not the primary deciding factor in your patients’ purchasing decisions. 

But good news, patients want to complete their journey with you

So in the end, that’s great news! If price is not the primary deciding factor, then it is something much more easily fixable, it’s some part of your customer journey that has escaped your notice. Through the upcoming series of articles, I will explore various parts of the customer journey in eyecare. I’ll outline avoidable mistakes that, once eliminated, will move your patients towards being “done” with you—and that’s a good thing. Patients should be leaving your office feeling fulfilled, and helping them get there will be the catalyst to your success. 

By Ryan Gustus, OD

Driving contact lens sales with a smart approach.


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