A common obstacle we face when working with clients is the doctor’s sense of isolation in his or her own practice. What I mean by this is that often the doctor feels as if he or she is the only one trying to move forward toward practice efficiency, case acceptance, pursuing his or her practice vision and so on. The team seems to be trailing along with no sense of urgency for helping patients understand the treatment diagnosed and helping patients move forward with acceptance and completion of the treatment at hand.
At Jameson, we firmly believe in the team approach to case acceptance. Each member of your dental team has the power to make or break the relationship with a patient – and in the same vein, they have the power to help patients say yes to the treatment they need and/or want. How engaged is your team in the customer service, education and support of diagnosed treatment and your patient’s experience in your practice?
The Power Of Excellent Customer Service
According to a survey by American Express, 78% of consumers have not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. Translate that into dentistry. Every time a patient calls your practice, every time they walk through the door, every interaction that they have with you and/or your team members, it is a piece of the experience. They are the building blocks on which they will make their dental decisions – whether we agree with that process or not – it is human nature.
Horst Shulze, Chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group and former CEO of The Ritz Carlton, says that customers will make a significant decision on how they measure their experience based upon being within 6 feet of the first person they come into contact with in your business! That is pretty staggering! What are you as a team doing to ensure that every interaction, every experience, builds upon the brand and the value of the treatment you are providing? Every moment builds the patient’s perception of YOUR value.
As a team, take a walk-through assessment of your facility. Come in through the front door, sit in the reception area for a few minutes, sit in the dental chair – look up! Look for areas that need updating, cleaning, a reset, whatever is needed to enhance the perception of the value of your practice and your services.
Work together, as a team, on improving your telephone skills. Listen to phone calls, record them. Help your team improve clarity and warmth on the phone. Use a patient communication slip to ensure you are gathering the necessary data to help schedule the patient appropriately, and to communicate with the team important pieces to the patient’s needs so that what we call “linkage communication” takes place. It is a fantastic way to make the patient feel important, to feel heard and to make your team into heroes in that patient’s experience at the appointment.
Enhancing the Clinical Team’s Role in Supporting Diagnosed Treatment
Hygienists and Clinical Assistants need to feel completely comfortable and confident in the use of intra oral cameras to capture diagnosed treatment and to show and support the diagnosis when the patient is in the dental chair. Our recommendation is to have a camera for each provider (dentists and hygienists) at the least, even better – to have a camera in every operatory. Use this camera on your patients every day, every time. This visual support helps open the doors of conversation of what is going on in your patient’s mouth, the benefits of the treatment diagnosed and the risks of not proceeding. It can also support treatment that has been completed – showing before and after photos of the patient’s mouth can truly support the result and show the patient the benefits of his or her decision regarding the investment.
During lunch on a regular basis, practice taking photos on each other as a team. Practice talking about the dentistry in the photo with the “patient” in the chair. By practicing and role-playing regularly, you as a team can become more comfortable and confident in what to say, how to say it as well as becoming more efficient and effective with the technology.
Case Acceptance is a team effort. When each member of your dental team embraces their place in this key system of your practice and enhances their skills and confidence in that role, your patients will feel, see and experience the value you provide and build their trust in you to a place that gives them the comfort and confidence to say yes.
Carrie Webber is Chief Communications Ofﬁcer and co-owner of Jameson, a dental management, marketing and hygiene coaching ﬁrms that helps dentists and teams become more productive, proﬁtable and fulﬁlled in their practicing. Carrie creates customer service and business development opportunities, as well as internal and external marketing initiatives and social media strategies.