Does your business need an extreme makeover?
Roger Levin believes that a business makeover – both literally and figuratively – will encourage your patients to explore your cosmetic services
Is it time to give your customer service a makeover? Excellent customer service is necessary for growing your aesthetic dentistry services.
You may think you already offer outstanding customer service. Many dentists think the same thing, and most of them are wrong. It’s not that their customer service is terrible, it’s just that good customer service is no longer good enough.
Raise the bar on your customer service, and you’ll elevate production for the practice, and especially your cosmetic services.
Aesthetic dentistry is about making patients feel good about themselves. Your customer service should do the same thing. In fact, it should amaze your patients. By going beyond normal customer service, you’re encouraging patients to do something similar – go beyond normal or traditional dentistry.
If you want to persuade more patients to take advantage of your cosmetic services, then do these two things to improve your customer service and the patient experience:
1. Evaluate and update your practice’s appearance
Your practice – inside and out – should be a testament to your skills as an aesthetic dentist.
If your practice has a drab exterior or outdated décor, then these seemingly little things will undermine your ability to persuade patients that they should have cosmetic treatment at your practice.
If you don’t value your practice’s appearance, how can you expect patients to accept any recommendations that you can improve their smile and appearance through aesthetic dentistry?
We all get accustomed to our environments, and it’s easy to overlook many of the flaws that are obvious to patients. Use an upcoming monthly meeting to perform a head-to-toe assessment of the practice from purely an appearance standpoint. Have the team visit the practice as if they were new patients, and write down anything they see that needs to be fixed, painted, replaced or improved.
Start with the car park (if you have one): is it well lit? Are there enough spaces and are they marked? Has it been repaved recently or does it have cracks and potholes?
Proceed to the front entrance. Look at the pavement, the landscaping, the building’s exterior and signage. Does everything you see make you want to open the door and walk inside? Or do you have rubbish and unraked leaves on the ground? Is the paint on the front door chipped in places? Are the windows foggy and smeared? How old is the practice’s sign?
These are just some of the questions you and your team should be asking as you assess the outside of the practice.
Next, enter the practice. Let your eyes linger over every detail – the walls, the ceiling, the pictures, the furniture, the carpeting etc. Are you impressed by what you see? Does everything about the practice say that this dentist cares about appearances?
Stop at the reception desk. Is it neatly organised or cluttered with forms and brochures? What about the area behind the counter? Are there piles of unfiled papers scattered about?
Assess the bathrooms. Are they kept clean throughout the day? Do staff members periodically check their condition?
Review the clinical areas. Do the surgeries have old, faded posters on the walls? Are the dental chairs in good working order? What are the conditions of the sinks, counters, trays, and everything else? Make a list of everything that might give patients pause about your practice.
Once everyone on the team has made a list, hold a second meeting to review the findings. What improvements can be made rather easily? What will require money to repair or update? What’s an immediate need and what’s a long-term one? All these questions will help you and your team put together a plan for upgrading your practice’s appearance.
In addition to assessing the practice’s current state, you should also encourage your team to ask this key question: what is missing from our practice?
Explore the range of possibilities, from amenities and technology to services. For example, do you offer beverages to patients and guests? Do you have lasers in every operatory? Does the practice offer botulinum toxin or similar services? By viewing your practice with a critical eye, you’ll spot the flaws and be inspired to make the necessary improvements.
2. Review and improve practice-patient communications
How you and your team communicate to patients matters greatly. Every patient interaction is an opportunity to further the relationship or diminish it.
Scripting can turn imprecise, haphazard and non-persuasive exchanges into clear, consistent and influential conversations that change patients’ minds and behaviour.
Have you created scripts for the most common interactions? If so, are the scripts being followed by team members? A study by the Levin Group Data Center found that less than half of practices (48%) actually use scripting. Furthermore, of those practices that have scripts, only 52% use them and when they do, it’s only occasionally.
Before I go any further, let me clear up a misconception about scripting. Many people believe that you must follow scripts, word for word. That is not true. Scripts provide a roadmap for team members to reach a specific objective when communicating with patients. That objective depends on the situation, but examples include scheduling the new patient, confirming the appointment or motivating the patient to say yes to treatment. Scripts train dentists and team members on the right things to say and the right way to say them.
Whether your practice uses scripts or not, you and the practice manager should review what is being said during common practice-patient interactions. You can do this by observing staff members during patient interactions. You can also have team members role-play different situations at monthly meetings to hear what is being conveyed to patients. In addition, conducting surveys can shed light on how the team’s communication skills are perceived by patients.
Patients will often judge your clinical skills – not by your background and training – but rather by the customer service they experience.
You can be the greatest aesthetic dentist in the world, but if patients are disappointed by how your practice looks or how they were treated by the team, then they will most likely say no to your treatment recommendations.
Outstanding clinical skills must be supported by outstanding customer service, if you want to grow your cosmetic production.
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of Aesthetic Dentistry Today. Read more articles like this in Aesthetic Dentistry Today and gain three hours’ verifiable CPD with every issue. Click here to subscribe or call 01923 851 777. Get in touch via Twitter @AesDenToday.