I recently vacationed in Greece and noticed something very different in the restaurants (besides the great food) regarding how they checked up on their customers. In the US, a few minutes after your food is delivered, your server will return to ask, “How is everything?” When you have finished eating, they usually pick up the dirty dishes and ask if you’d like to see the dessert menu. Some servers with more outgoing personalities may add, “Oh, I see you really enjoyed your dinner!”
Greeks do things slightly differently, and those differences—while seemingly small—have a lot to do with culture and attitudes regarding how they run their restaurants.
In Greece, there was no interim question, “How is everything?” during the meal. Instead, at the close of dinner, they approach the table for the first time since your food was first brought out, and if anything was left on your plate, they are visibly concerned. The automatic assumption is that you weren’t happy. You must be a member of the “clean plate club” or you’ll hear, “What was wrong? Didn’t you like it?” They are shocked if you don’t eat your entire meal. Even if you respond with a genuine, “It was delicious! I just couldn’t finish all of it,” they’ll persist. “Are you sure?” they’ll ask. “Is there something you aren’t telling me?” They are genuinely concerned and on a conscious mission to ensure you were 100% satisfied with your meal.
The Lessons for Us?
First, they are most likely omitting the interim “check in” visit because they are extremely confident you are satisfied with the service and quality, and don’t want to disturb your dining experience. It is assumed that the meal will be great. That’s because they take a lot of pride in every aspect of its preparation and are laser focused on your satisfaction. You might say there is a bit of culinary arrogance to this, but that is not the case. Rather, they are conditioned to believe this is so by one patron after another being happy with their meals. So, when someone leaves something on their plate—a potential sign of unhappiness—they are distraught.
We, of course, are clinically obligated to provide the requisite follow up care after contact lenses are dispensed (analogous to seeing how customers are doing with their meal). In all but very extreme cases, we can’t neglect this visit. But, in straightforward cases, when we believe there is a very high likelihood of patient success (as opposed to a first-time keratoconic fit, for example) we should approach these visits with a very high degree of confidence and self-assuredness.
So, instead of starting the conversation with, “Are your lenses are OK?” or, “How are your contact lenses?” we can intimate something like, “Aren’t they awesome?” or, “Was I right? Isn’t it so much easier playing tennis with contact lenses instead of glasses?” You should liberally use professionally and courteously applied optometric arrogance, just like the experienced chef would.
Next, when patients are not happy, it should be a surprise! After all (again, for straightforward, non-pathology cases), you should be surprised when a new -2.25D OU healthy-eyed wearer complains about their vision. “What? Really? You’re having trouble seeing road signs? That’s terrible and is very unusual, but of course we’ll fix it right away!”
Just like the lean diners who choose not to finish their meal, the surprise expressed by you will be seen as genuine—if it is! And patients will pick up on your immediate desire to make them happy, and all the perhaps over-the-top commitment to fixing their problems you will demonstrate.
Prescribe and communicate with confidence, not caution. This isn’t about over-promising and possibly under-delivering. It’s about confidently communicating expectations—and using that confidence to build your practice.