Archive for Dental Patient Care
You’ve planned and are looking forward to having a remarkably productive first month of the year to set the stage for an amazing 2015 and…
- Monday morning your Chairside Assistant calls in sick 20 minutes before your first patient who is scheduled with you for a three-hour appointment!
- You have your most productive and interesting day of the month going smoothly until 10:45 a.m. when your air compressor craps out! The repairman can’t get to you until tomorrow.
- You have Mrs. Smith sitting in the chair at 8:00 am to seat six anterior veneers, and two minutes into your welcoming conversation with her, you’re informed that the veneers are not here!
- You’ve seated the denture yesterday and Mr. Brown was delighted with the fit, feel and appearance. You patted yourself on the back because it was a challenging case. It’s now 4:50 p.m. and your Appointment Coordinator advises you that Mr. Brown is coming in right now because his wife hates the color of his teeth and the dentures makes him look hideous!
If you have never experienced any or all or some permutation of these, you obviously have just graduated from dental school and have not had the opportunity to experience “life”.
It happens to all of us…that Whack-a-Mole process where by we think we have taken care of that ornery mole and then he pops his head up again in some other place. Just when we think we have everything under control, he pops his head up again! Uggggh!
Click here to read more about Whack-a-Mole Dentistry.
If you think using those “pre-scripted,” post-treatment survey questions offered up by the digital texting and appointment reminder services will serve as your self-appraisal, I fear you are misguided.
Patient feedback is vital to running your practice.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get…a Coach Ron-ism. When you ask your patients for what they want or how you’re doing, you will be amazed what you will learn. Use simple surveys that give your patients the opportunity to provide you and your team feedback. Consider doing office surveys at least twice a year. What you can expect to receive is information that will help you grow your practice…as well as your income.
Keep in mind that measuring patient satisfaction isn’t as easy as slapping a few questions on a card. The process needs to be carefully mapped out – from the way you ask questions to the way you respond to results.
Consider the following guidelines:
- Determine the objective of your survey. What do you want to learn? What do you want to improve, grow, change, and expand? What decisions do you want to make with this valuable information?
- Ask the right questions. Choose questions carefully or your survey won’t give you the information you really need. Be very specific about what you want to learn about your practice. Do you want to know how well your patients are being greeted? Do you want to know how your patients feel about how well their teeth were cleaned? Do you want to know if your injections are painless?
- Keep your surveys short and sweet and easy to read and understand. People are busy (or so they think) and when surveying patients, we need to be sensitive to their time constraints. Think like the customer and make them simple and brief.
I have additional guidelines, should you choose to request them.
“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” ~ Jimmy Johnson
What three “extras” will you provide in your workweek that will set you apart from the others?
If you answer “YES” to any one of the questions below, then it is important to care about what your patients have to say.
- Do you want your business to grow?
- Do you want more new patients?
- Do you want your patients to come back?
- Do you want to stand apart from the average?
- Do you want to make more money?
Some practices use electronic systems like Smile Reminder or Demandforce to survey their patients, however, if your questions are bland and generic, you will learn very little from your guests. Also, I’ve discovered that many practices fail to pay attention to the survey results. Consider doing an in-office, live survey, crafting practice-specific questions that will provide you with real-time and valuable information that can have a dramatically positive impact on your business. When the survey is complete, compile your responses and share the “learnings” with your patients, along with the ACTIONS you intend to take.
If you would like to receive an electronic version of my Top Ten Tips On How To Do Office Surveys, type “Surveys Top Ten” in the subject line of an email and I’ll send you a copy.
Whether you have a patient or a customer consciously uncouple or divorce you or fire you, we better be paying attention to delivering care and concern to those who entrust their care to us.
Do you want to be “Consciously Uncoupled” by a patient?
Do you want to be “Divorced” by a patient?
Do you want to be “Fired” by a patient?
If we presume that the technical excellence is in place, the way to prevent being “Consciously Uncoupled” is to deliver service excellence.
Below are a few suggestions:
- I believe every business that provides superior service has a strong Service Vision that creates a clear direction for everyone in that business. What do your customers buy from you that they couldn’t get elsewhere? Your Service Vision drives hiring, standards, training, leadership philosophies, and tells you where you are heading.
- The practice must be committed to creating a world-class, internal culture that only attracts, hires, and retains the people who are capable of upholding the service vision of the organization.
- The business must create Secret Service systems that easily enable all team members to personalize the customer’s experience by engaging them and anticipating their needs. Having great standards is not enough! The organization needs to systemize those standards in order for them to be realistically delivered on a persistent and consistent basis.
Customer’s expectations of service are so low that today businesses have a truly fantastic opportunity to gain a superior, competitive advantage. Whatever your business – dental, retail, hospitality, business-to-business –it has never been easier to exceed the customer’s expectation by delivering a memorable experience.
This is the antidote to “Conscious Uncoupling.” Businesses/practices don’t get fired when they deliver unexpected, legendary service.
Think about the services you provide so that you aren’t “Consciously Uncoupled.”
Over the past two weeks, I have received an unprecedented number of calls from dental auxiliaries upset that their doctors don’t appreciate them. They tell me that they are “bustin’ their butt” (exact words from two of them) and yet they get no recognition for the extra effort and, often, not even a Thank You!
My experience has shown that the #1 complaint from dental auxiliaries is not low pay, not boring work…rather, it is a perceived and widespread lack of acknowledgement for what they do and the above & beyond they invest in serving the patients and the practice.
I don’t know if there is something in the water or the unbelievably cold weather that has gripped our country this winter (except for Arizona and the west coast), but I do know this is a real issue in many dental offices.
One hygienist asked me to call her doctor and tell him how his team is about to mutiny on him if he doesn’t at least try to be grateful. When I spoke with this doctor he told me the following: “Hey, you can coach all you want, but these employees are getting the highest wages in the area. They work only four days a week and I pay for their continuing education and health care. That’s enough. They should know I’m grateful so this is a nuisance complaint.” While he is not a client but a friend, this is a real story.
So I have two questions for you:
- What advice would you give one of your friends if he/she responded this way?
- What ways do you recognize and acknowledge your team members that you are willing to share with my readers?
Recently, a friend invited my Sweetness and I to join him for an airplane ride in his single-engine plane from Chandler, Arizona to witness the amazing red rocks of Sedona, AZ, where we would land, have lunch and fly back while enjoying the beautiful mid-Arizona mountain scenery.
If the truth were known, I was a bit spooked because “single-engine” means to me there is no backup if the first engine quits! However, we were both reassured as we watched Tim bring his plane out of the hanger and he meticulously did his “walk-a-round” before we loaded into the tight seating arrangements. When we were all seated, he pulled out a two-page checklist…just like the BIG boys do with the commercial jets. He then, in a very deliberate and confident way, went step-by-step through this seemingly exhaustive list of “things” to do and check. He also spoke each step out loud.
What struck me from this experience is that Tim (71 years old) has been flying for over 40 years, owned several planes, is instrument-rated and has been a flight instructor, yet, he still uses his checklist. When I asked him why this was so important for him, particularly as a seasoned pilot, his reply was:
“I can’t trust my memory to remember everything all the time and I/you can’t afford this kind of an oversight. Besides, it’s the rule.“
Brilliant! Tim has reminded me of the value of using my checklists in so many other venues: cooking for family and guests, preparing to serve my clients, formulating our journey back home to Cleveland from our winter get-a-way in AZ, and so many others.
Do you use a checklist for your dental practice? Please share your experience in the comments below, or on my Facebook page.
I like to model my coaching through leading by example. That’s why, twice every year, I “survey” my clients to determine if I am delivering a service that meets or exceeds their expectations. I also want to determine if I need to add, delete, modify, or adjust elements of my deliverables. I always have a bit of trepidation as I read the results because I want to be perceived as doing a great job, yet, I know there is always an opportunity for growth and improvement.
Seventy-eight percent of my clients responded to my anonymous electronic survey. One of the constructive suggestions on how to better facilitate our monthly Mastermind calls said:
“I just wish we could keep the phone calls to 1 1/2 hours or less. While I love the conversation, it does take away from my family time and that is important to me.”
Thanks to this kind of feedback I can adjust quickly. The adjustment I made to my coaching was to give a ’10 minute warning’ to the group so anyone who needs to leave the call can finish their thoughts and exit and those who wish to stay can do so.
However, I must admit, I really enjoyed several of the positive comments:
- “Coach Ron, on short notice, you provide important verbal skills that enable me to communicate effectively with staff. These are skills you don’t seem to have to prepare for at the moment, which means to me you have honed them over many years. Thanks for coaching!“
- “You are sensitive and responsive to my “concern of the day.” You lead me, rather than force ideas upon me.“
- “The personal touch on your part. Coach, you are always there for us especially on our toughest moments.“
If you know of someone who would benefit from receiving these tips, please feel free to forward this along to them.
What is the possibility that things like this happen in your dental practice or business that, quite frankly, are not your fault yet the customer, patient, guest is inconvenienced due to no fault of your business?
- A guest’s credit card was declined. Do you embarrass them in public by blurting out that their card was declined…after all it is not your problem that they don’t have a handle on their finances? Your Zero-Risk approach would be to present the guest with a courtesy card, discretely suggesting another form of payment and no one is the wiser.
- Your day has been inundated with emergency care of others and you are not ready to take your guest at the scheduled time. Hey, it’s not your fault so many people got toothaches over the weekend. We need to take care of them! Your Zero-Risk approach might be to empower your administrative team to simply say: “We apologize for this inconvenience. I’m putting a $35 credit on your account and feel free to enjoy a cup of specialty coffee at our comfort station while we are getting your room ready.”
- Guest leaves to discover she has a dead battery in her car. Hey, It’s not your fault she doesn’t maintain her car but she is elderly and has no one to pick her up. Your Zero-Risk approach might be to take out your set of jumper cables you keep handy for these kinds of emergencies and jump start her car to get her home, offer to drive her home, or call AAA and offer her a specialty coffee while she is waiting for service.
Where can you provide legendary service for those situations where it is not your fault, yet, because it is your problem you have a solution?
This can leave your guests saying and thinking, “WOW, What amazing customer service!“
How persistent and consistent is your patient service model? Do patients ever fall between the cracks? What is the possibility that a patient may be upset and you have no clue and they are spreading “ugliness” throughout your community?
What is your plan for service recovery when a patient has a complaint?
What lessons from my last blog post about Mr. Jeffrey teach our dental teams and us?
- Customers/patients who have had an upset with your business or have experienced some problem yet are highly satisfied with how the upset was handled are MORE likely to return than those customers who had no problem at all.
- If you handle problems with panache, you can convert a patient from unhappy or unsatisfied to highly satisfied.
- “Highly satisfied” patients are twice as likely to return.
- “Highly satisfied” patients are three times more likely to recommend your practice. (Note the service recovery delivered by Mr. Jeffrey is now positively spread to over 800 readers of my Floss Your Mind™.)
- Loyalty is very fragile…it is up to us, as business owners, to maintain it in the most customer-centric way possible.
ACTION ITEM: Why not look at every point of contact a patient has with your practice/business and determine where there might be a service lapse and how you can fix it before it happens and, if it does happen, figure out how you will recover.
Recently, I commented in my newsletter about a less-than-ideal dining experience at the Fleming’s Restaurant in Chandler, Arizona…particularly after having had such a magnificent experience on a prior visit.
One of my clients emailed the Operating Partner, Mr. John Jeffrey, a copy of my newsletter describing my upset. Unlike many businesses that pass off a disgruntled customer as a PITA or don’t ever give it another thought, Mr. Jeffrey immediately called me personally. He wanted to discuss my displeasure and offered me a solution…a complimentary dinner on him as a way for my wife (Sweetness) and me to experience the excellence his restaurant has to offer.
As you can imagine, I was stunned to receive a personal call from the owner wanting to learn from a customer how he and his team could enhance the delivery of their service and to deliver it on a more persistent and consistent basis.
We recently took Mr. Jeffrey up on his offer. To our delight, the evening was just as we had remembered from our very first Fleming’s experience…superb! Jesse and Ben delighted us with very personal service, an in-depth explanation of their incredible menu. They offered suggestions on the unique specials and delivered one of the most magnificent Prime Bone-In Ribeye’s I have ever eaten!!!
Research tells us that customers who are highly satisfied with problem resolution are more likely to return.
While Mr. Jeffrey doesn’t look for things to go wrong at his restaurant, he did indeed demonstrate, in a very personal way, how he saw this as an opportunity to really deliver extraordinary customer service. He wisely recognized that inconsistent performance could kill a brand. When he discovered an inconsistency in his service delivery he took action and delivered a masterful service recovery. I applaud John Jeffrey and his team. You can bet I will be a repeat customer and will gladly refer my friends and family to Fleming’s in Chandler, AZ.