And the end of December is as good a time as any to start planning and writing down some goals.
And not just a “Bucket List”
I’m talking things that need to be done better.
Improvements for a better year next year.
Personal. Family. Health. Wealth. Business.
Yes. Amongst those improvements should be a list of business improvements.
Ninety five percent of New Years Resolutions are rarely kept and achieved.
So, making New Years Resolutions and NOT carrying through with them will leave you in exactly the same place or worse off than you were before you set those goals.
Here are four New Years Resolutions you can set for your Dental Office to really *RAMP UP* your Customer Service and have your clients, customers and patients raving about how much better it is to get their Dentistry done at your Office rather than anywhere else in town.
1. Commit to Tightening Up Every Hole In Your Customer Service Cycle.
Providing World Class Customer Service isn’t just a little bit here and a little bit there.
It doesn’t matter how good a job each of your team members are doing if one weak link in your customer service cycles will bring down and undo all of the good work that the rest of your team are trying to achieve.
You cannot have one person consistently dropping the ball and negating the great work of other team members.
Taking the time to analyse your Dental Office from your patients and clients points of view will go a long way towards improving your cycles and fixing those holes that you were not aware of that are leaking out patients.
2. Promise to Do More Secret Service On Every One Of Your Patients
It needs to be a goal of every team member to not only discover items of personal information about each and every one of your clients and patients but to also relay and share that discovered information with other team members so those staff can also “connect” with those patients.
Nothing impresses a patient more than the feeling that your team members are genuinely connecting with them on a personal level rather than only on a clinical level.
Having Secret Service Systems for sharing this gathered information about patients on a regular and consistent basis goes a long way towards breaking down the barriers that create an “Us and Them” relationship between the Office and the Patients.
Patients love to know you care.
This is a very easy way of showing them.
We all know, as Mary Kaye Ash said, that everyone of our patients is wearing a large invisible sign that reads:
“Make Me Feel Important”
3. Remove the Fluff
To help your team focus on gathering personal information and keeping the banter in the office on topic with the patients’ agendas and not ours it is important to remember what not to talk about.
And that’s the Fluff.
Fluff is topics that have no relevance and are things we cannot change.
Like time, and weather.
Don’t let anyone in your Dental Office be known as the Weather Girl.
“Oh whenever I go into THAT Dental Office the girl on the desk only ever talks about the weather”.
Add the Removal of Fluff to your list of Always and Nevers.
Never talk Fluff.
4. Make them Love You. Genuinely Care About Them.
Constantly be looking for ways to be able to go Above and Beyond for each and every one of your patients.
Be on the look out for small gestures and things that you can do for each patient that make that patient think:
“WOW! This place is SO different from any other Dental Office I’ve ever been to before.”
Because that’s what will keep your patients coming back.
Coming back more often.
Accepting treatment more readily.
And referring more of their friends to you.
It won’t be your prices that keep people coming back.
It will be the way you make them feel.
Because no other Dental Office is doing that.
In fact, not many other businesses are doing these things…
There are times when a business doesn’t know that the consumer knows what the consumer knows.
Well, not every consumer. But the savvy ones.
And there are a reasonable number of savvy, discernable consumers out there.
Sometimes the consumer knows how it should be, and sometimes the consumer doesn’t know what they don’t know.
And sometimes they do know.
And like I said, there are times when the business doesn’t know that the consumer knows that things could be being done a better way…
Is that how it is at your Dental Office?
Are you trying to pretend you know what you’re doing, but in reality, you really have very little idea exactly what you’re doing, and how what you’re doing compares to what your competition is doing?
I’m not talking clinical skills here.
I’m talking people skills.
Dealing with customers.
Are you dealing with your Dental customers like they’re in line at Los Angeles Airport or Sydney Airport Customs and Immigration?
Or are your customers’ visits to your Dental Office more like they are visiting a good old friend for the afternoon?
I just this month watched this difference played out by the one of the airlines.
And the difference was palpable.
Now we all know how much fun it is to fly Southwest?
And one of the reasons is because of how much fun the crew are while we’re on the flights.
And as you know I regularly fly the Pacific with Qantas, whose crew members do a really good job looking after their passengers. But I didn’t know how good a job the Qantas crew members were doing until I recently flew Emirates.
This month I flew Emirates with my family to Europe, from Sydney, via Dubai.
And although the service was professional, it was far, far from personable.
On Emirates there appears to be no shortage of flight crew.
But on my flights the crew seemed to be so caught up in their processes, they forget about their customers.
Let me explain.
The business class cabin is a 1:2:1 across seating pattern.
And each seat has its own side table section. Alternately left and right down the aeroplane cabin.
So the middle two seats are alternately paired, if you get my picture?
So couples travelling together can sit side by side in the centre two seats. Every second row.
But the couples when seated in the centre seats apparently do not get served as couples.
In fact, the fact that they are couples seemed to be totally ignored.
On both our flights both parties of the couple are served by different crew, from opposite aisles. Without any regard to the fact that they are indeed a couple travelling together.
Through two meals and five servings.
And don’t get me started on the drinks services and the snack services.
It was like there was an invisible partition between my wife and I that would not allow food or beverages to pass through.
And if I could work out which flight attendant was serving each of us and why, I’d be a Mensa graduate.
There just seemed no rhyme or reason.
No method to their madness.
There just seemed no soul on Emirates.
It was purely “clinical” only.
With no heart.
There was something missing….
Was there a “culture” missing?
A culture of Customer Service, as opposed to a culture of process?
On the second flight it was announced that they had flight crew from fifteen countries who were able to speak eighteen languages.
But could they speak the language of love?
I wasn’t feeling it….
So how are things in your Dental Office?
Are you like these two Emirates flights?
Are you just going through the motions of process and protocol rather than bothering to truly connect?
Or are you like Qantas, and truly relating to your customers.
Because customers do know the difference.
And at your Dental office your customers will vote with their hard earned dollars and go elsewhere if they feel there’s a lack of sincerity.
My family is due to return from the USA on this trip, with Emirates.
And I’ve got to say, I’m putting them on notice.
I need some repartee.
I’m done with clinical.
I need connection.
In Dentistry, I give connection.
Not sterile connection.
Not clinical connection.
But true connection.
If your patients are going to hand over their hard earned for your dentistry, in this day and age they want more than just dentistry.
More than just a filling.
They want true connection.
Give them no connection?
Then watch them walk to somewhere else….
As an aside, I’ve also had more connection on Virgin Atlantic, American, United, and Continental. And Southwest.
An email from a friend came across my desk a few weeks ago, and I filed it for comment at a later date.
This week, as I sit here in Paris half way around the world in both directions from my wonderful friends in dentistry, I believe these important words are ringing just as true today and every day as they did when they were written.
My friend wasn’t sure whether these words were attributed to Colin Powell, or to someone else.
But they are wise words, nonetheless.
The Company You Keep
It Is Better To Be Alone, Than In The Wrong Company.
Tell me who your best friends are, and I will tell you who you are.
If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl.
But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.
“A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.”
The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate – for the good and the bad.
The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve.
Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity.
An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.
As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on.
They will want you to stay where they are.
Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl.
Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream.
Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.
Never receive counsel from unproductive people.
Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always the first to tell you how.
Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.
Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere. With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.
Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.
Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.
Every dentist knows they need to associate with the right people.
They need to associate with those who are creating success for others.
And who have created success for themselves.
Yet these dentists come up with so many weak reasons why they don’t want to engage with success, and why they want to keep embracing mediocrity.
“Oh my staff will never let me do that”
And when these dentists say this, they’re immediately allowing their staff to dictate the kind of income they earn, dictate the kind of house they live in, dictate where their children go to school, dictate when the dentist is able to vacation and and ultimately dictate when the dentist is able to retire.
“I spoke with my wife/spouse/friend and they didn’t think it was a good idea”
Same thing here.
There’s a reason successful people are successful.
And that’s because they recognise success, and copy success.
And don’t listen to those who have not enjoyed success.
Yet so many people take advice from those who have never tasted success.
There are people out there who feel it is their role in life to save others from success.
Avoid those people.
Frankly, opinions are like navels. Everybody has one.
Track records? Now those tell stories.
“There are no new fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn
Jim Rohn said it:
“There are no new fundamentals. You’ve got to be a little suspicious of someone who says, ‘I’ve got a new fundamental.’ ”
All the information you need to be successful is already out there.
You just need to find it, learn it, and implement it.
For that purpose, you need to surround yourself with those who have the knowledges and talents that you need to achieve what you want in life.
Find the right financial advisor.
Find the right legal advice.
Find he right accountant.
Find the right business coach.
Find the right marketing advice.
But heck. Don’t ask unqualified people to give advice in these five areas.
What will next year be like for you?
Have you made a commitment to improve yourself for next year?
December 31 is always a good time to start planning for a bigger, better, brighter New Year.
But why start your improvement on January 1?
Why not start now?
Make a commitment to tidy up, and get up!
Get on with what needs to be done…
I’ll leave you with these famous words from Scottish mountaineer William Hutchinson Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
I’m writing this blog while on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Paris.
I’m not an aeroplane movie watcher. But I’m noticing my wife has just finished watching a movie with Pearce Brosnan and Emma Thompson that finishes with them on a yacht, beside the Notré Dame Cathedral.
Which reminded me of my first visit to Paris, and my visit there to Notré Dame in June 2012, two years ago.
Through the wonders of the internet, and primarily through the marvel of Facebook, my patient Theo, who is a long-term patient and firstly a long-term friend, reached out to me and asked me whether I could do him a favour, then and there, while I was in Paris.
And what a favour it was.
He asked me, if I would be passing Notré Dame again, and whether I would be able to purchase something for him.
You see Theo had seen my Facebook posts that I was in Paris already, and had visited Notré Dame.
What was it you wanted me to buy Theo?
Theo replied and asked, most politely, as to whether I was able to visit one of the souvenir shops beside Notré Dame and purchase for him one of the LARGE gargoyle replicas they sold there?
Theo asked if I could, and whether I could, ship it home for him?
Now that’s a serious ask, I thought.
We had not planned to revisit Notré Dame.
We had limited time, and after all, this was my first trip to Paris, so I was trying to cram in as much sightseeing as I could.
And then Theo told us about the ice cream.
Seriously good ice cream.
Located just beside Notré Dame.
So what would you do?
Long story short, here’s what we did.
We found the ice cream place. Berthillon.
Like you would not believe!
And we bought the LARGE gargoyle.
But we did not ship it home.
We brought it home with us. From Paris, via Dundee.
In my suitcase.
Because Theo’s more than just a patient.
He is indeed, a true friend.
A friend firstly. Before dentistry.
What would you do in that situation?
Would you put Theo’s request in the too-hard basket?
Or would you go Above and Beyond?
Sure, Theo is a friend from way back, before he became my patient.
But as my patient, he’s been very loyal.
And I have to him.
There are lots of other patients like Theo that we’ve made our friends over the years.
And we’d go Above and Beyond for a whole lot of them.
Like the story of Daniela, who was travelling to England.
And had some historic sights to see in Hertfordshire.
Well two in particular.
That although being located close to railway lines, they were located on different lines and were separated by such a considerable amount of countryside, that to visit both in one day by train would mean almost returning back into London to change trains.
So I put my thinking cap on.
My wife has an uncle and aunt who live roundabouts between these two sites.
I wonder whether Uncle Jake would be able to help out?
A quick phone call and Uncle Jake to the rescue.
He meets Daniela at train station #1, drives her to the first Point Of Interest, then drives her across the Countryside to the second Point Of Interest, then drops her at station #2, sending her back on her way into London.
What an afternoon!
Throw in a counter lunch and a pint on the way?
Of course, and all are happy.
Would you think of that?
I tell you, I’m glad we did.
What sort of examples of Above and Beyond have you pulled out of your hat over the years?
Not only are these great examples.
They also make great stories to tell other patients.
And that buys a lot of mileage too.
I’m sure you’ve also thought outside the square.
It’s just a matter of continually making your patients think: