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How a Simple Apology Can Improve Your Eye Care Practice

I have been in the eye care industry since I was 20, and most of my experience has been in sales and optical management. My biggest strength is turning around optical establishments as I focus on people's behaviors and changing them while promoting growth in the workplace. Hint- the leading way to transform sales is to look at your staff and how they work as a team. This Eyetastic Blog came to me the other day when I saw an article about how to respond to bad reviews, which sparked me to write about the art of an apology and how it can bring more success to your practice.


Part of turning around businesses is not allowing bad reviews to come up online. Patients will always complain, yet it is rare for them to write a review if you can settle their complaints. Their complaint might not come about in a way such as speaking to a manager but could be a complaint in a normal conversation that manifested into something more. This is why having the right people in the right place is crucial to avoid customer service issues. Complaints should be viewed positively, as this is how you grow your practice.


There is an overlooked importance of providing excellent customer service and maintaining positive relationships. However, mistakes will happen, and sometimes we fall short of our patient's expectations. In these situations, the art of apology can be a powerful tool to improve the patient experience and strengthen our relationships with them.


The Importance of Apologizing in Business

Apologizing is essential to any business that values its relationship with customers, vendors, partners, and staff. When you apologize, you acknowledge a mistake or a problem, take responsibility for it, and express regret then move on. Apologizing shows that you care about your customers and their experience with your business. It also demonstrates that you are willing to take action to make things right.


We deal with sensitive and personal issues that can significantly impact a patient's life - their vision. If we make a mistake or fall short of our patient's expectations, apologizing sincerely and promptly fixing the problem can be especially important. Failure to do so can damage the patient's trust in our business and result in negative word-of-mouth.


The Art of the Apology: What It Is and Why It Matters

The art of apology is a skill that can be learned and perfected. It involves more than just saying, "I'm sorry." A sincere apology requires empathy, active listening, and a willingness to take action to make things right. The art of apology is about acknowledging the other person's feelings, taking responsibility for the mistake, and expressing a genuine desire to make things right.


When done correctly, the art of the apology can significantly impact the customer's perception of your business. It can reduce negative word-of-mouth, improve loyalty, and even turn a negative experience into a positive one. Remember that most patients will not go to your practice with bad reviews, even if it is just one. We are in the digital age where there are numerous optical shops to choose from, do not give them a choice not to choose YOU 🫵


The Psychology of Apologizing: Why It Works

Apologizing works because it taps into our basic need for empathy and connection. When we apologize, we understand, acknowledge, and care about the other person's feelings. This can help to de-escalate the situation and reduce any negative emotions. Apologizing also helps to restore the balance of power in a relationship.


When we make a mistake, we may feel guilty or ashamed. Apologizing can help restore our sense of control and reduce our guilt. The most significant gift is showing your customers that they are not just a number and are valued by you and the business. Your customers choose to purchase eye care products or services from your company, where they spend their hard-earned money, so apologize and fix any issues they have, or they will no longer be your customer.


How to Apologize: Steps to a Sincere Apology

When apologizing, it's essential to be sincere and genuine. Avoid making excuses or blaming others for the mistake. To apologize effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Acknowledge the error or problem by repeating it to them

  2. Show empathy and apologize

  3. Express regret

  4. Offer a solution or plan to make things right

  5. Follow through on your promise


Apology Avoidance

Apology avoidance occurs when we choose not to apologize, even when warranted. This can happen for several reasons, including fear of liability, fear of losing face, getting yelled at, or simply not wanting to admit fault. It's essential to understand when and why apology avoidance occurs so that we can avoid it. When we fail to apologize, we risk damaging the relationship with our patients and losing their trust.


Implementing Apology Strategies in Your Eye Care Business

To implement apology strategies in your eye care business, start by training your staff on the art of apology. Provide them with the tools and resources to apologize effectively, such as scripts or templates. Creating a culture of accountability and transparency in your business is also essential. Encourage your staff to take responsibility for their mistakes and to apologize sincerely when necessary.


Most issues are due to a lack of communication which is where we as professionals should ensure that our staff is taking the appropriate steps to prevent this. Your training guide and handbook should outline when and how to apologize to patients and the importance of creating patients for life.


Apology Mistakes to Avoid

When apologizing, it's essential to avoid common mistakes, such as:

  1. Making excuses or blaming others for the mistake

  2. Using a non-apology, such as, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

  3. Failing to follow through on your promise to make things right

  4. Telling someone to calm down


Embracing the Art of the Apology in Your Eye Care Business

An apology can be a powerful tool to improve your patient experience and strengthen your relationships with them. By apologizing sincerely and promptly, you can show your patients that you care about their experience and are willing to take action to make things right.


To implement apology strategies in your eye care business, start by training your staff on the art of apology and creating a culture of accountability and transparency. Doing so ensures that your apologies are sincere and effective and that your patients feel valued and heard. So, embrace the art of apology in your eye care business and watch your patient satisfaction and loyalty soar!

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