During my day job, or what I call my consulting world in Ophthalmology, I work with practices that perform elective surgery. It is a platform where we rely strongly on word of mouth referrals.
Since the inception of performing LASIK in the United States, around 1999 , doctors and staff were instantly in love with the procedure. Patients were super happy with immediate results having relatively no “down time” from work or play. In fact, patients were so happy with their vision that doctors struggled to get patients to comply and return for all of their post operative appointments. What happened? Doctors and staff said great…the patients will let us know if they are not happy. WRONG!
For the most part patients were over the moon but not all patients were providing honest feedback to the surgeon. White coat syndrone…other reasons we will discuss, but you can be sure they were chatting with their friends who were eagerly waiting to hear about their experience. And doctors just figured”well I gave them 20/20 vision, why wouldn’t they be happy?” Well there are a variety of reasons we will save for another day…just know that even then, before I was the CEO of me, I knew enough to urge my doctors to view the post operative period as an opportunity to learn and gain referrals. Being a recipient of vision correction I was keenly aware that:
- We needed to remind patients of what their life was like before LASIK so they would refer friends!
- So quickly they forget that they were visually handicapped.
Did you know most LASIK patients forget the name of their surgeon after about 5 months? We learned this through a whole bunch of research with VISX because doctors could not understand why their word of mouth referrals were not increasing.
The silence proved to be the worst because there were people out there who were not happy and had bad experiences. And guess what…they weren’t silent. They were shouting from the rooftops on the internet to millions of people they didn’t even know . They just werent telling their surgeon and the surgeon was not asking .
How to you recover from that? An unhappy person who never said a word to you sent a never ending complaint through the many layers of social media to people you may never know .
It is something to remember. As an owner of your own company it is critical to survey your customers . You do not have the luxury of assuming everyone is pleased with what you delivered. And you cannot expect that the current population you service has the same opinion of you, that you have of yourself. More than that, you want to exceed expectations. The only way to do that is ask the difficult questions , engage with the difficult customer and view a complaint as an opportunity .
So why don’t people complain?
- Afraid of the outcome . Kind of like being afraid the kitchen staff will spit in your food if you send it back .
- Afraid the complaint will not be well received and you need to return to see these people over a period of time.
- Too much of a hassle … so they sit in silence unhappy.
- Passive aggressive
So here are the critical must do’s in your own business:
- Survey your customers
- Ask the difficult questions
- Be proactive and call customers before they call you
- Send thank you letters and share that you value their opinion
- Don’t ever make it about you…it is always about your customer
All news is good news when you are the CEO of you ….to be continued !