When Mayday Becomes Payday

One of the trickiest issues with technology is how to effectively support customers.    This can be as simple as helping customers recover their login to a password protected website or as complicated as setting up a new home entertainment system.

 

Today,  Amazon chief Jeff Bezos unveiled Mayday, a really cool approach to tackling this issue.  When you press a special “Mayday” button on their Kindle tablet, a live person appears in a video screen to help.  Within 15 seconds.  And they can takeover your screen and help you through whatever is frustrating you.     This is a game changer, and I applaud whoever came up with the name.  It is just perfect for this customer support application.

 

While Apple offers a similar service, it’s cumbersome (you need to call or  go to a specific support site) and it’s expensive (you need either an extended support package or be prepared to pay forty bucks for the call).    With Amazon, it’s included;  you just need to be on a wifi network.   The thought of pressing a button on a tablet and presto! – someone appears.  I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Great Gazoo appearing on the Flintsones, only this time being helpful rather than mischievous.

So, what do are you doing to go the extra distance in supporting your customers?   That same video technology is widely available via Skype, Facetime, and other free platforms.  Even further down the technology ladder, how many of you provide your cell phone to your customers?  I know several outstanding surgeons who have it on their business cards and provide them to patients just in case.   These surgeons tell me it instills great confidence and is rarely abused.

 

Regardless of the technology or tool being used, being accessible to customers with a human touch in the digital age is a clear winner.  I bet lots of people are going to be buying their parents a new Kindle for the holidays, especially knowing that live help is just one button away.

 

Note:  Click here if you want to read the full Mayday article:

 

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/baig/2013/09/24/amazon-bezos-mayday-to-tackle-tech-support/2858471/

 

 

PREMIUM PRACTICE TODAY: Time, Travel, and All That Jazz: the Things We Value Most

PREMIUM-PRACTICE-TODAY-Time-Travel-and-All-That-Jazz-the-Things-We-Value-Most

Making smart financial choices has enabled these surgeons to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

Successful surgeons who have made the right moves through tough times are rewarded with loyal patients, steady referrals, and a healthy bot-tom line. This article explores how a handful of them are enjoying the perks of success in their downtime…

 

Download the full blog

 


 

Impact of ORA on Refractive Cataract Surgery and the Premium Channel Offering

Impact of ORA on Refractive Cataract Surgery and the Premium Channel Offering

Intraoperative Aberrometry, a term describing the use of a wavefront-sensing device during cataract surgery, has been available in the US since 2008. First commercialized as the ORange® System, developer WaveTec Vision (Aliso Viejo, CA), has continued to develop the technology through a series of software and hardware modifications to improve utility of the device during cataract surgery…

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Carl Zeiss ASCRS symposium

April 21 , 2012 (Chicago, IL)

Hosting & Interviewing | “Technology That Matters:  Candid Conversations with Three Leaders”

City/State/Country: Chicago, Illinois USA
Venue: Hyatt McCormick Place Hotel – CC10
Date: Saturday, April 21, 2012
Registration: 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM (and lunch)
Meeting Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Room Location: CC10
Supported By: Carl Zeiss Meditec

Faculty

Ike K. Ahmed, MD, FRCSC
Roger F. Steinert, MD
R. Bruce Wallace, III, MD

For details and registration, go to: EyeWorld.org


Book Shareef Mahdavi To Speak

Groupon for Surgery: A Bad Idea

Like many of you, I get a daily Groupon e-mail and will often take a look and see what special deal is being offered.   I admit to being intrigued by the upcoming Tomato Battle taking place in my town next weekend (modeled after the annual rite in Bunyol, Spain), but I’ll leave it up to a few thousand others to enjoy that event.

 

While I have serious reservations about the longevity of the business model (which were confirmed by Groupon’s recent financial reporting), this type of offering has struck a nerve with deal-seeking consumers whose spending patterns have been permanently altered by the economic battering of the past few years.  For consumers, Groupon (and its cousins on Living Social, Schwaggle and the hundreds of other deal sites) can be an enticing way to try or buy something for the first time.

 

For providers – and I am speaking directly to those of you who market your services – Groupon can be a risky proposition for the business.  There are countless examples in the media of the restaurant or bakery being overwhelmed by Groupon redeemers.  They simply didn’t have or plan capacity to meet demand.   In some ways, that’s a high quality problem for a business owner.     And for providers of annuity-type, non-surgical medical services, such as facial aesthetics (eg, Botox, teeth whitening), enticing a first-timer with a good deal makes sense.   What I am concerned for are those services that are in the “once-in-a-lifetime” category, such as LASIK.

 

Grouponing LASIK is a bad idea for one simple reason: No opportunity for repeat business!   You’ve given away the farm to someone who will only pay you one time.  And if it’s word-of-mouth you are hoping for, you need to recognize that what you are doing is stimulating consumers to talk about the great deal they got on LASIK instead of talking about the miraculous improvement in their vision.

 

I could dive right in to economic principles to support my assertion, but choose to limit them to their punch lines:

 

Don’t treat LASIK like a commoditized good.  There’s no “supply” of LASIK that risks becoming obsolete on the shelf  (such as last season’s trendy sweater) or spoiled (like those gourmet cupcakes).

 

Discounts don’t work to increase demand for LASIK.   Historical trends over 15 years demonstrate an inelasticity of demand, as decreasing prices have correlated with decreasing demand for the procedure.

For  a “one time” procedure, all a discount does is lure a person who has been actively considering the procedure; he or she would eventually have a sufficient trigger and pay the going rate.  The LASIK example illustrates how providers mistakenly believe they can attract the much larger market of spectacle and contact lens wearers; history has shown they aren’t motivated by low price.

 

My view is that demand for LASIK is going to improve steadily over the next few years.  See my commentary “Is LASIK Dead?” to learn more.  (Thank You Note: I’m gratified to see this was the most widely read article in the August 2011 issue of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Today).

 

Doing a few hundred extra LASIK cases at half the price does little to boost the bottom line.   But it does a lot of damage to the long-term pricing integrity of that provider and continues to foster the myth that LASIK is a commodity and can be had for cheap.

 

In short, leave the grouponing to repeat-visit offerings where the goal is to stimulate a trial or sample purchase, and don’t undermine your long-term brand or market position by using groupon as a promotional tactic.  The risk of backfire is much higher than any possible short-term reward.