Customer Service Fail!! Customer Service Lessons are Everywhere!! – Part 1

Customer Service Fail!! Customer Service Lessons are Everywhere!! – Part 1

One of the strategic and key things that I push and emphasise constantly with The Ultimate Patient Experience is that it is and needs to be an entire and complete system.

Saying that you do customer service, or that you prioritise customer service within your business is absolutely useless if for one reason or another there are gaping holes in your process, or service defects so noticeable that they undo and negate any positive experiences you are trying to impart to your clients, patients and customers at other points during their contact with your business.

Let me give you two examples. One I experienced very recently, last week in fact, in regional N.S.W., and the other two years ago in Arizona.

Last Thursday just gone, my wife and I travelled by car to a holiday destination some three hours out of Sydney. Associated with this venue is an overseas Celebrity Chef name branded “Two Hatted” Restaurant. We were excited and looking forward to these two nights of fine dining that we had advance booked, especially as the fare was predominantly seafood, our favourite.

 

Our first impressions of the restaurant, upon our arrival, was that the restaurant lacked the ambiance that we had, I guess, expected due to its celebrity status. The restaurant, attached to a motel, seemed to more have a more of a “motel feel” about it, rather than a fine-dining aura.

Upon arrival for, as I said, our pre-booked reservation, we were informed that only a wall seat was available, and if we cared to have a drink at the bar, that a better table would be available shortly. During our fifteen minutes seated at the end of the bar, we sat thirsty, and watched as three staff chatted amongst themselves. At no time were we asked if we would like a beverage. Strangely though, during our wait, we were however handed menus and a wine list by the restaurant greeter, which we graciously placed to one side.

When our table was ready we were escorted to a table near the back of the restaurant that was right beside the sliding door leading to the restrooms. Fortunately, a short time later, a window table was vacated and upon asking, our waiter was able to move us there.

Lessons so far:

  1. Patrons who reserve tables in advance should not be kept waiting for their table.
  2. If you have to put someone at a bar, get them a drink quickly. Patrons won’t mind the wait if they’re well watered!
  3. Make sure that the table you take them to is not just any old table.

Our waiter for the night, though pleasant and friendly, really was not prepared to answer questions on the differences between the three types of oysters available for diners this night. Sadly, this was the first of several indications to us that he was truly out of his depth.

The next major fail that we endured came when the food started to appear on the table before the wine had arrived. Sadly, we needed to ask three separate wait staff about this before we were let know that that wine we had ordered was actually not even in stock!!

 

Finally, the evening was I guess, upset by the failure of wait staff to clear away plates and glasses from our table in a prompt and courteous manner.

Lessons:

  1. If you’re out to make big claims, it’s best to make sure that you’re team are able to deliver. The team needs to be knowledgeable on all and everything that you have to offer.
  2. Know your stock. Have systems in place to ensure that when something runs out, the process does not make your team members look stupid.
  3. Make sure you have enough team members on board, and that they each know all of their roles completely, so that all processes in your business are covered.
  4. If there is a glaring defect, then apologise as it becomes apparent. Don’t ignore it as if it didn’t happen, hoping that your customer never noticed. Better to apologise and let them say that they “hadn’t noticed”, rather than the opposite.

So what happened on the following night, I hear you ask?

Well, we decided not to even look at the dessert menu this night, such was our level of disappointment. And the following morning we cancelled our booking for the next night, and ended up eating elsewhere, away from the lodgings at a nearby town. Sadly, this seems to have been a recent common sentiment for a number of patrons of that restaurant, gathering from our discussions in the local towns on the next day.

So what was really needed here?

For a start, the floor needed a stronger leader. Someone to steer staff members around and oversee all operations. There was nobody captaining the ship!

Secondly, staff needed clear guidelines and job descriptions as to their exact roles and duties in meeting and exceeding customer expectations. Nobody on the team seemed to have a clue as to how to WOW!! their  patrons.

Finally, there appeared to be no systems. No process or thought out process as to what makes up or constitutes The Ultimate Dining Experience for their customers. You see, if you, as a business owner don’t know what your customers expect, how can you ever deliver World Class Customer Service?

This restaurant was really doing a disservice to the Chef’s name attached to it. I’m really hoping that the service, or the experience we received, was not a true to life example of what passes for appropriate in his establishments.

Sadly, as mentioned, it appears that our night was not a one-off experience unique to us, based on our sharing around the places that we visited the next day.

So what lessons are there for a Dental Office to learn from this whole adventure?

Well, there are several!

  1. Systems. Your team needs systems and clear written job descriptions and guidelines.
  2. Process. Know your Customer Experience Cycle(s). Know them inside out. Know every nook and cranny of those cycles.
  3. Be prepared for all contingencies at every stage in your Customer Experience Cycle(s).
  4. Understand the stages, every stage, that your customer can and will experience in your business. Know what constitutes unacceptable and acceptable at each and every stage.
  5. Identify where and what can be done at each and every stage to exceed the customers’ expectations. Similarly, know when there is an opportunity to go “Above and Beyond” for your customers.

Touching briefly on the second restaurant encounter from two years ago in Arizona, I’d just like to say that at this restaurant, the wait staff continually sought feedback from us, the diners. Because of this, we were able to leave a constructive appraisal of our “different” dining out experience, although again, we wished we really didn’t have to. Interestingly, we were surprised at the extent of the Service Recovery we received on that night. [The bill was waived!!]

However, the fact that the Arizona restaurant was able to identify, and respond immediately…well hats off to them.

Really though, it would have been better on this night, if the experience had been better in the first place.

I really hope, for the sake of the Celebrity Chef in regional N.S.W., that he can turn the ship around. It’s sad when this sort of thing happens.

It’s even sadder when the owners and shareholders really don’t seem to care.

 

There are many straight forward and easy to implement  protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple to build system I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

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Don’t Let the Inmates Run the Asylum

Don’t Let the Inmates Run the Asylum

I’m not sure why dentists are told they need to get toe to toe knee-to-knee with their patients for an hour to build rapport.

Frankly, if you can’t win someone over in the first five minutes with your personality, then get out of private practice and go and work on non-paying patients. Because you’re doing a great disservice to people *paying* you for their dental *services*. And I am emphasizing the word services.

Being personable is easy. You just need to ask questions and start your patients talking about themselves.

Then listen. Listen with empathy.

Follow this with a provisional diagnosis. “Sounds like it could be this, this or this.”

Then look at the problem area….then “just let me confirm that with an x-ray…”

And of course, follow all that with…”if you were my mother/sister/daughter me this is what I would be doing.”

Or, “if this were my tooth this is the treatment that I’d be having done”.

Be definitive. Clear course of action.

I see so many doctors telling patients that they’re going to “watch” that tooth.

This is so wrong! Watch it? Watch it do what?

Watch it deteriorate? Watch it fall apart? Watch it decay? Watch it need root therapy?

Never watch! Watching is bad for the patient, both health wise and financially.

If something needs watching it needs fixing.

Nothing is more distressing to me than seeing a new patient walk in with sixteen posterior teeth restored with heavily overfilled and patched old amalgams that the previous dentist has been watching!

It’s just a minefield of wrong down there!!

You see I cut my teeth in dentistry at a time when dentists were placing a lot of the old “ledemix time-bombs”. I learned very quickly that this was wrong, and wrong for everyone.

For those who don’t know, ledemix time-bombs were dressings placed on exposed pulps under huge amalgams with the hope that things would settle down and go away….and they usually did. But what would go away was usually the patient, until the amalgam started to shift, or break [well it’s sitting on a ledemix sponge so why wouldn’t it, eventually!!] and the patient would turn up at the next dentist with a problem.

And guess what? The problem would be worse because it should have been addressed back then, not now, this time!

So there were three losers. The new dentist had a more difficult tooth to treat. The patient had a more advanced condition [i.e. more difficult] and more costly, just due to inflation and time, and the original dentist missed out on doing the treatment.

I quickly learned how wrong this was on all counts…you see ledemix time-bombs were the epitome of dental “watching” …

So back to diagnosis….

You see, many years ago a patient once said to me:

“What are you asking me for? You’re the one wearing the white coat. That’s why I’m here. For your expert opinion.”

Famous, great words of wisdom!! How right he was!

Because, as soon as you hand your skills and knowledge and your decision making as to what is best treatment, as soon as you hand *that* decision over to the patient, then that’s when the inmates start running the asylum.

Because…

Did your patient go to dental school?

I don’t profess to knowing how the fuel injectors of a car work, nor am I an expert on the stability of reactive clay and the depth of footings or slab required to support my house.

That’s why, when I require these services, I take expert advice.

So offer best treatment. Because in dentistry, what’s second best, is often a long, long way second.

And second best treatment, well patients still expect first best results…don’t they? At second best prices!!

Stand up for your sanity. Diagnose and treat correctly and appropriately. Every time. And don’t watch. Ever!

Your patients will thank you.

And you’ll sleep a whole lot better.

 

 

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me: david@theUPE.com

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In the Dental Office, Where Exactly Does Customer Service Actually Begin??

In the Dental Office, Where Exactly Does Customer Service Actually Begin??

A recent online discussion about Dental Customer Service asked the question as to when exactly does the Customer Service actually begin?

For some dental offices, they believe that customer service begins and ends solely with the patient interaction with the dentist only.

Those offices will say, that it’s because of him, the dentist, that patients return, so it is his responsibility and only his to be nice to the patients. Or nicest!

Others chatting online suggested that the customer service begins the moment the patient enters the dental office and ends when they leave the dental office. They say it is how we make them feel when they are with us, visiting our office, and having our treatment.

 

Another person said that customer service actually begins when the patient rings the dental office, and that all dental offices need to lift their game and be on the ball when the phone rings. This person emphasised the importance of that first telephone contact in setting up the patient experience with a positive expectation.

I will contend that it goes back even further than this. Customer service is not a starting point and an end point.

Customer service is a culture. It’s a *total* culture. It’s a way of life.

If you’re practicing and exercising customer service at some points, and not all points, of your client interactions with your office, then you are falling down in your delivery of *World Class* Customer Service.

Because rest assured, for every touch point that you try to improve, unless you’ve covered *every* touch point, there will be a chink, there will be an Achilles Heal that will work to bring undone the other good work that you are doing.

Many years ago, in my dental office, we couldn’t figure out why our patients were cancelling and not returning, after leaving our treatment rooms with such positive comments and experiences.

We found, and found out quickly, that the verbiage being used at the front desk during patient check out, was undoing all and every piece of great work that the team in the operatories was creating.

So back to my initial question: Where does Customer Service Actually begin?

I contend, in the complete lifecycle of a dental customer or patient, your Customer Service begins with each and every lead generation piece that creates an interest in your Dental Practice or Office out there in the community.

 

That means every advertisement you create, every direct mail piece, every radio ad every TV segment, every freestanding insert. Even every business card you share and give out. *ALL* lead generation pieces must exude the fact that your dental office cares, and cares more than any other dental office in town. Otherwise all you’ve really got is just another advert.

 

Similarly too, when your lead generation piece drives traffic to your website and landing pages, your patients and prospective patients must feel warmth, care, comfort and professionalism exuding from your online presence.

 

Because *this* is how your prospective customers make their decision to choose your dental office. They buy emotionally, then justify with reason. It’s not the other way round.

These are also the resources where your valued customers and patients will refer their nearest and dearest to, to make that important decision to recommend your dental office. So make them emotionally impactful, and consistent with your Customer Service Culture.

Finally, when your patients and prospective customers call your office, make sure that the service and greeting that they receive is consistent with the material they have read and with the treatment experience that your office is delivering.

Consistency. Complete Consistency. Culture. Way of Life.

There are no shortcuts in Customer Service. No skipping steps. Half-heartedness won’t work.

 

“The Complete Life-Cycle of the Dental Customer” is just one of the four cornerstones that make up The Foundation for The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

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Templating Your Dental Day to Financial and Emotional Nirvana

Templating Your Dental Day to Financial and Emotional Nirvana

Probably the easiest way for a Dental Office to improve their Production and Collections is to Template the Appointment book.

Templating is simply mapping out and stenciling the day, or week, so that certain procedures are allocated to certain times each day, or week.

The purpose of a well constructed template is to give the appointment book structure and reason.

A well structured appointment book has the following benefits:

▪   Flow.

Primarily, knowing what type of appointment needs to go where helps dramatically with the flow of patients and instruments throughout the day. Conversely, an unstructured appointment book, at best creates dental entropy, and at worst, is just sheer havoc, or bedlam, for the doctor and team.

 

▪   Financial surety.

Appointment books need to be structured to ensure that sufficient income is earned by the dental office for the day, or week.
I’m hoping this is not a revolutionary concept for your office.
On the flip side, an unstructured appointment book can lead to days, weeks and months of busy-ness, without paying the bills. We all know those days….chasing our tails, short appointments backed up on top of each other…..and when you get to the end of the day, you’ve not even covered your wages and salaries…Stack several of these days back to back…and guess what? You’re a mess…An emotional mess and a financial mess!!

▪   Balance.

A balanced appointment book has a comfortable mix of pleasant procedures, and is not weighted unfavourably in any direction.
For example, the hygiene day should be balanced with appropriately placed regular recare hygiene maintenance appointments, perio only appointments as well as new patient first visit appointments.
Additionally, the Doctor’s day should not be overweighted with short consultation appointments, or with crown and bridge seating appointments. The Doctor’s day should have an equal number of seat appointments to crown preparation appointments.

 

▪   Coordination.

Not only does each service provider need to have a balanced day, there needs to be consideration that unintentional log jams are not created by careless or thoughtless scheduling.
 For example, root canal therapy or other procedures involving rubber dam, should not be scheduled at times where the dentist is required to leave the patient for hygiene checks in other rooms. Nor should hygiene checks be called while the dentist is doing new patient long consults, or implant procedures…all common sense really.

 

So what’s the best way to create a template for your office?

This is simply a case of working backwards rather than forwards.

▪                In previous blogs I have spoken about setting annual financial goals, to cover the expenses of the practice, practice maintenance and improvement, salaries of doctors and team, as well as return on investment.

▪                Once this big number is decided upon, then the working year needs to be calculated in advance in terms of projected days worked for the next twelve months. Allow for education days, public holidays and vacations. Also allow for a certain number of last minute days away for seminars, school functions etc.

▪                It is often best to calculate a minimum number of days to be worked.

▪                Divide the big number by the forecast number of days worked to arrive ant a daily production goal.

▪                Look at your hours to be worked in the day, and establish how many high production appointments [e.g. crown and bridge, or implants] you need to schedule to create a reasonable part of that daily production goal.

 

▪                Allocate those productive appointments firstly to your template. You might like to begin the day with one, as well as popping one in prior to lunch as well as after lunch and prior to leaving.

▪                Make sure that you leave times, and set those times for same day emergencies [never to be filled until the day-of]. And New Patient consults and exams etc..
I hope this inspires you to structure your day. The benefits of structure, and the flow on disciplines, allow you to enjoy the rewards, both in time and monetary, that owning a dental office has to offer.

These tips, and more, are included in my workshop “Seven Secrets to a Highly Profitable Appointment Schedule”

 

“Seven Secrets to a Highly Profitable Appointment Schedule” is just one of the many straight forward protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me: david@theUPE.com

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Is Your Office Unknowingly Dropping the Ball? A Big Lesson I Learned on My Recent Visit to the USA

Is Your Office Unknowingly Dropping the Ball? A Big Lesson I Learned on My Recent Visit to the USA

Nearly twenty years ago now I learned a very important lesson in business. It’s a lesson that all businesses can use and need to use, to create better connection with their clients, customers and patients.

I was reminded about this lesson while visiting restaurants, of all places, on my recent visit to the United States It is indeed, an important *alert* to act upon. All businesses need to make sure that they are not missing this vital step or stage when dealing with their customers.

The lesson I learned came originally from Brad Cooper, the then owner of FAI Home Securities, a firm that sold and installed in-home burglar alarms and monitoring systems. Here’s the lesson…

On the day of instillation, the homeowner would be greeted at her front door by an installer, who had just knocked on the door. When the homeowner answered the knock, she would be greeted by an installer, in uniform, standing in the doorway holding up a pair of slippers. The installer would introduce himself, and pointing to the slippers, say “Good Morning Mrs. Smith. I’m Joe from FAI, here to install your home security system today. Do you mind if I put on my slippers so that my work boots do not leave any marks on your carpets?”

The lesson from this is simple. Before performing a duty for your client, patient or customer, ask yourself if there is value to be had by *informing* the customer about exactly what you are doing, or about to do, that may well be a significant Point Of Difference between your business and your competitors’ businesses.

There’s no point in business in doing things better than others and not getting noticed for those points of difference. Herald those differences to your customers so that they can fully appreciate that you are going the extra mile. Do this every time!

The reason this Brad Cooper Principle (as I call it) came to my mind on this recent USA visit is simple. Here’s what happened at several restaurants in the USA on more occasions than I’d really like to remember.

 

What would happen is this: My wife and I would enter into a restaurant and walk up to the restaurant greeter. When asked, we would announce ourselves to the greeter. We may have had a reservation. Sometimes we may not have made one.

From this point on things would change.

Firstly, the greeter would immediately look away, usually to a monitor, or restaurant floor plan, but without notification to us as to what exactly she was doing. No words to us, the diners, like “Excuse me one moment, please” or “Thank you sir, I’ll just check our seating”

Better still would have been something like “Welcome back sir” or “When were you last in dining with us, Sir?” or even “Would you prefer a table closer to the bar (or grill) or a more intimate setting?”

This look-away time seemed like an eon. It was like we as customers had become invisible. Frankly, there was no attempt at connection.

Sometimes the greeter would point at her monitor to another employee, I think, the “seater”, and mumble something. Once these two had then settled on *their* decision, then the seater would take us away from the greeter, and lead us to the table that *they* had just chosen for us.

As the restaurant customer, I found this means of communication, or lack of communication, to be rather demeaning. I felt, that as the customer, I was often not being acknowledged really in any way, shape or form. As the paying customer, I would have expected a short “Hello, and welcome”, or as I have written above, a reasonable attempt at verbal acknowledgement…..

So then, how do we use this Brad Cooper Principle at our Dental Office?

Well that’s easy. There are numerous places in the dental office, numerous times throughout the day where there is opportunity to ask, or state to the patient, what we are doing, and why we are doing it. These opportunities are not used as an explanation of procedure. They are not opportunities to educate and indoctrinate people who may not be wanting detailed explanations.

These are opportunities to *share* with the patient a theme of kindness and respect for the patient and for other team members.

Here’s a great example:

The Doctor leaves the patient and dental assistant in the treatment room to briefly go to another treatment room to do a hygiene check.

While the Doctor is out of the treatment room, the dental assistant rises from her seat and walks around the patient to the doctors side and starts tidying and straightening the instruments on the tray, and removes any materials and pads that will not be required further.

 

The kicker here is the explanation back to the patient. If this procedure is done in silence, it’s not nearly as valuable to the Dental Office as it will be when the assistant says “Mrs. Patient. I’m just going to tidy and straighten Dr Moffet’s tray and instruments over here FOR HIM, so that they are neatly aligned when he returns.”

What this verbal explanation says to the patient is that this is a Dental Office where people care about each other, and where neatness and tidiness is also a priority. Failure to tidy, and more importantly, failure to verbalise this action to the patients, are missed opportunities to “Share the Love”.

As an aside, the feeling I have, when I return to an untidy tray, well that’s like returning to your hotel room after a day out and finding that your room has still not been made up. You get the picture? Conversely, returning to a tidied tray is like returning to your hotel room mid morning, and finding that housekeeping has already visited and tidied the room unexpectedly for you.

There are many other opportunities to *tell* the patient what you are doing. Opportunities to verbalise that feeling of sharing the love.

“Allow me to open this door for you, Mrs. Patient. It’s quite heavy”

“Mrs. Patient, please allow me to walk you to the elevator and hold the door for you”

“I’ll just print off a receipt for your records, Mrs. Patient”

There are many opportunities in every business to Share The Love and stay connected with your customers. Look thoroughly at your business and see where you may be disconnecting unknowingly, from your clients.

Reconnection is a conscious effort. However, it is a simple and easy process. And instantly rewarding.

 

This is just one of the many straight forward protocols and procedures that make up The Ultimate Patient Experience, a simple easy to implement system I developed that allowed me to build an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb.  If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

Email me at david@theupe.com

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