In dentistry, it’s all about the relationship.
A dental practice needs to sit on a strong bedrock of trust between each patient and the dentist. I’ve talked about this before, but dentistry is a very intimate experience. Your patients are letting your put your fingers in their mouth, sometimes just minutes after meeting you for the first time. It is perhaps more important for dental practices than other businesses to ensure a top-notch customer experience.
But people today are realising that we’ve lost something: a personal touch. For many companies, customer service doesn’t even begin to happen until someone has made it through 7 voice menus to finally get on to someone who can’t help.
The thing that I really love about customer service in a small business like a dental practice is that to astound a patient with good customer service isn’t actually that hard. We’re so used to the faceless telecom companies of the world that when you feel like a person instead of a number, it’s suddenly not that big a bar to leap.
When a customer doesn’t expect it warm, personal customer service, it becomes a ‘wow!’ moment because customer service is inherently broken. An easy way to win early on in a relationship with a patient is to offer exceptional customer service. It increases the lifetime value – meaning that your patient becomes more than just an appointment. It’s about the next 15 years, their kids and their friends, and in the long run, a huge amount of money.
But how do you offer customer service with that personal, human touch?
Key #1: Customer service stems from office culture.
Where does the way your front-facing employees interact with patients come from? What is at the heart of your customer service? What drives the interactions your patients have with your practice?
It’s your front house culture.
There are two main factors that affect this: your culture should be designed top-down and you have to hire for culture.
First off: you need to drive this. You can’t expect the right culture to just happen. It stems from the values that you communicate to your team, what you believe, and what drives your practice. And this will be different for each practice. You might be committed to offering affordable dental care to your area or you might be committed to offering specialised products and services and the knowledge that comes with it.
Culture is something you live and breathe. It will inform the way you respond to patients, handle problems, and even schedule appointments.
We discussed the performance/culture matrix in last week’s blog post, but hiring for culture is also extremely important. Some of the hardest employees to deal with are the ones with bulletproof technical abilities but that aren’t quite the right culture fit for one reason or another.
If the choice is between someone well experience but likely a poor culture fit and someone a little more junior but has the right cultural attitude, the second candidate will likely be much more successful in the long run. Hiring for the right cultural fit and investing the time into training ensures that your employees will have the hard and soft skills required to delight customers again and again.
Key #2: Turn patients into brand advocates by finding opportunity in disappointments.
Many companies have ‘brand ambassadors’ – that is, employees that are enthusiastic about the company and its products. Even a step further is when your patients begin advocating for your business as well.
Now everyone knows the power of word of mouth, but when you have super fans that take any chance to sing your praises, you’re setting yourself up well for the future. But when you think about advocacy, while people will talk about the services, they actually talk about the customer service and relationships a lot more. It can be hard to measure, but when you have patients that, when they are asked about dentists, immediately say, “Use this person,” you are in a good spot.
Of course, no one wants a patient to have a poor experience at your dental practice. But instead of dreading the occasion, embrace it. These are often the best opportunities to turn patients into super fans.
Look at it like this: if you don’t have an issue, your contact with a dental practice or any company is fairly generic. It’s when you have a challenge and someone solves it to your liking, that is when magic happens. It’s the Law of Reciprocation. This dental practice helped you out of a bad situation, you feel indebted, and now you talk about the company and spread the good word.
It comes down to this: solving a real problem often requires a human touch. You might have to get creative to offer the right solution, but this personalisation, this being attentive, being present is key to excellent customer service.
So, if something goes wrong, embrace the situation instead of avoiding it.
For dental practices that want to adopt a customer service culture that will dominate the experience that customers have at most other companies, it is important to do it thoughtfully. When you are hiring for the right culture and embracing the opportunity to turn unhappy experiences into amazing ones, you are setting yourself up for excellent customer service.
Creating a culture that really loves your patients and looks out for their best interests creates a reciprocal relationship. Your patients will want to see you succeed because they trust you and enjoy their experiences with you.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:
- Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”
The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here
- Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too
It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here
- Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event
Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here
- Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here