Understanding the Consumer Mindset During COVID-19 So You Can Best Serve Your Patients

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One of the prominent drivers of consumer behavior is consumer confidence, typically concerning the economy and one’s ability to spend money. With COVID-19, we’re seeing a different kind of customer confidence come into play—confidence in being around others. Consumerism is no longer just about trusting a product will work and buying it. In today’s landscape, consumers need to believe that being in your space is worth the risk and the risk is minimal. Given this, those of us who cater to consumers need to exude safety and trustworthiness. 

For doctors, this new requirement for consumer confidence poses an interesting paradox. The white coat, representing an expert, a hero on the front lines, can now also produce anxiety for many. Hospitals are sitting empty, and people are having strokes and heart attacks and refusing to go to the emergency room. Why, then, would they come to us for something that’s not imminently life-threatening, and how do we make them comfortable doing so?

Many of us never thought we'd be in a place where people might think twice about an office visit. But in this “new normal,” our patients are navigating whether their eyecare needs are essential or non-essential and asking themselves whether that trip out of the house is worth the risk. The reality is that when people are uncertain about their safety, many will retreat to what feels comfortable – staying home.

How can we help? By helping our patients assess risk. Given that our office’s schedule is far lighter right now, we’ve redirected staff to review upcoming appointments and proactively reach out to patients to confirm or reschedule appointments based on need. For example, we might see a family with two children on the schedule but after reviewing their charts, notice that one child has had significant prescription changes every six months but the other doesn’t wear glasses. In that case, we’ll reach out to the parent and recommend they bring in the one child with visual issues.

Offering this concierge-level service, where you’ve proactively gone into the patient’s file and history and assessed for them whether their need is essential is a tremendous trust-builder because the average patient cannot figure that out on his or her own. As we see it, establishing that trust, as an expert looking out for their best interests, is the most critical step towards gaining our customers’ confidence—especially now.

Listen to our podcast, “The Consumer Mindset” to hear more on this topic, and stay tuned for our upcoming blog post describing things you can do in your practice to make patients feel safe.

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