One of my big bugbears reared its head over the last two weeks.
It’s the question as to when to remove diners’ plates from the table.
Should they be removed individually as soon as each diner is finished eating their meal?
Or should they be removed collectively only once the last diner has completed their meal?
There’s a Dental Correlation to this puzzle…too…
I’ve always been of the belief that it is nothing short of bad manners and bad etiquette to remove dinner plates from the table while others are still eating.
For a start, the action of clearing becomes an unwelcome interruption to what may be a very interesting and stimulating conversation.
Once the action of clearing and removing plates has begun, conversation often grinds to an unwanted halt, as the act of clearing now dominates the table.
And in this case, the action of clearing is all about the intentions of the clearer, not the wishes of the diners.
The clearer may be just trying to be efficient and tidy, or they may be clearing “as they go” so that there is less to clear later.
A second reason for *NOT* clearing plates until all diners have finished dining is that it simply makes those still yet to complete their meals feel uncomfortable about the fact that they are still eating.
It can also make those who have finished their meals first feel like they had been gluttonous and scoffed down their food too quickly, compared to the pace of their dining companions?
Now, there are logical reasons for clearing plates as they become empty.
For a start, it means that diners don’t have to sit there with dirty plates and bones in front of them. So there’s an aesthetic question here.
In a restaurant, it can also mean that there will be quicker turnaround time for the table, though not much, between dining parties.
I’ve heard it said though, that in this sort of situation, that the speed of clearing the plates while others are still dining also relates proportionately to the speed of the diminishing tip left by those diners.
How does this dining etiquette question relate to the Dental Surgery?
I’ve discussed this in previous blogs.
At the end of the day, do you clean up around your practice while patients are still in the treatment area?
Does your last patient of the day have to listen to brooms, mops and vacuum cleaners operating in the background?
Does your last patient have to tippy toe across a freshly mopped wet corridor floor?
Is this fair on the last patient?
Should the final patient of the day feel that they are “in the way” of staff trying to clean up and get out of the place?
Why should the final guests at our Dental Office be subject to a feeling of Dental Rush Hour?
Why should the last patients of the day feel anything less than exemplary Customer Service?
The reason some dining places clear plates “as you go” is because those places are simply not looking at the dining as being an *EXPERIENCE* for their valued Customers.
Are you looking at your patients’ visits from the patients’ viewpoints?
Do you want your patient feeling like they’ve been “in the way”?
That they’ve received a “Rush Job”, so everyone at the Office can get out of there quickly?
It’s the same thing with the plate clearing.
Why should those diners be made to feel uncomfortable?
After all, they’re paying for the dining *EXPERIENCE*.
So let me ask you, are you giving *ALL* of your valued patients a truly Ultimate Experience
I’ve never been compelled to leave a review before, until just last month.
It’s been interesting, because I do rely on reviews, and rankings, when choosing where I like to dine.
Yet I’ve never left reviews, until recently.
As you know, I do enjoy my food out.
Dining for me is about the experience.
Good food, ambience, and great service all contribute towards making that restaurant visit an experience worth remembering.
So, it was last month in London, that I decided, that I needed to “give back”, as you would.
And the reason was simple.
The reason I decided to take the plunge, as a reviewer, was because we dined at a London Pub near where we stayed that did not live up to its rating on Trip Advisor in any way, shape, or form.
Now don’t get me wrong.
I’ve had plenty of average and below average dining experiences before.
But this place was certainly punching above its weight, to coin a phrase.
Out of its league.
And I felt compelled to clarify, for others on Trip Advisor, that this Pub was indeed not some magical place….
So since then, I think I’ve left six reviews on Trip Advisor in total, so far.
And it’s been great to leave reviews of some of my favourite restaurants in New York, which I had the pleasure of dining in again. As well as some new discoveries.
So it got me thinking.
Because what inspires someone to leave a bad review?
Sure, as I’ve said, there’s a “duty”, as you would say, to inform and protect other members of the public from making the same error that I had just made.
And it’s true. For some, a night out that does not live up to their expectations may be a huge disappointment.
By leaving my review I may have saved someone who had saved up for a long time for a night out from having a poor dining experience.
And maybe they may have had a much better night out because they read my review and decided to go elsewhere.
It’s an interesting world, the world of a reviewer.
Because, now, I’m hooked.
And I feel obligated to review each and every restaurant that I now choose to eat in, from this day forth.
It’s a weird feeling.
My wife has been a Trip Advisor reviewer for years.
So much so, that her reviews get rankings.
I think she has made something like sixty or seventy reviews.
She has some clout.
And it’s weird…
You see last month, just before I left Active Dental, we received a negative review.
And when I read the review, I could see the patient’s point of view.
But I didn’t think that his experience warranted placing a review.
The patient, a young male, snappily dressed, had come seeking a consultation as to whether we could straighten his teeth with Invisalign.
And after a cone beam, and a thorough examination, it was my opinion that Invisalign would not have the power to correct his cross-bite as well as the underlying airway issues that had caused this malocclusion.
However, from the review, I was able to glean that our young male patient had sought a second opinion.
And another dentist had decided that Invisalign would in fact do the job required.
And maybe that job required was to just straighten the teeth.
I don’t know.
My point is, that our patient left unhappy that he had spent money at our Dental Office on an opinion that did not align with his expected outcomes.
And for that reason, he went public with his opinion.
Should he have contacted us, and let us know his feelings?
Had he done that, prior to posting the Google review, would we have refunded his fee?
In hindsight, it looks like we missed a great opportunity to remove a negative review that happened just because of a difference between our patient’s expectations and our “professional opinion”.
I don’t think we cooked a bad meal?
I don’t think we failed to provide a great experience?
In fact, I believe that my diagnosis was correct, and that there is no way that I could have given the patient his best medical outcome with the medium he wanted me to use.
But the wildcard is the Google Review.
Because like a tattoo of an ex-lover’s name across your chest, it’s there to stay.
For me, I’m not so fussed about this review.
It’s a misunderstanding.
And I’ve left that Dental Office, so the review stays back there, and does not carry forward to me.
But it is quite scary.
And the point is, that if you’re not one hundred and twenty percent in tune with your customers, you could pay severely, with a bad review.
In this day and age, more than ever, there are so many online review sites out there, it is so, so important to be making sure that all of your valued patients are placing their positive reviews of your office on a very, very regular basis.
In this way, by having patients place their positive reviews, you are able to dilute any negative reviews away into insignificance.
Of course, a negative review can come from poor performance.
Just like the poor performance of the London Pub.
And it can also come from a failure of aligning the outcomes of the patient’s visits with their expected outcomes.
Which is where I fell down.
In all cases, communicating with the customer is *THE* best way of reducing the risk of that imbalance occurring.
And it’s a matter of communicating well.
There have been times, when I’ve dined out in the past, when I’ve felt compelled to let the maître de know of my disappointment.
Thankfully not so many.
And there have been times when I’ve just decided not to return ever again.
It’s said that people are more likely to tell others of their bad experiences than they are of their good and great experiences.
“Bad news travels fast”.
And in this day and age, with online reviews, bad news has the ability to travel at breakneck speed.
As business owners, we need to have a plan to reduce the impact of bad reviews, when they
Each tip has great relevance to the practice of Dentistry.
I’ve expanded below on my favourite points from that list.
Points #14 and #15
“Everyone always has two jobs: to do the job they were hired to do and to take care of the customer.” AND “Be a customer service role model. Regardless of what you do for your company, be that person that everyone admires and wants to emulate.”
I’ve rolled these two tips together as I believe they belong together like knife and fork, and egg and spoon.
It is absolutely imperative in your organisation that everybody realises and believes that they are employed to look after their customers as well as being employed to do the job they are hired for.
How many times have you walked into a store and not been able to find something you are looking for?
Isn’t it so refreshing when you ask a store employee where you might find that thing you are there for, and the employee stops what they are doing and then walks with you through the store, engaging with you, and takes you right to the location of where that item is kept.
How different is that to just being given “general” directions?
I’ve recently walked into a Dental Office where the front desk people have failed to notice or recognise my arrival in their office, because they’ve either been too busy chatting and not watching the front door or they’ve been engrossed in their screen and not even bothered to look up.
Is that how they deal with all or most of the arrivals at their office?
If that’s the case, you’d have to think that with that sort of start to the Dental Visit, it really wouldn’t matter how good the dentistry or the service was down in the treatment rooms, it certainly would be difficult for the customer to “forget” this less than warm greeting.
I’d say, never let your greeters be too busy that they can’t be greeting.
This then relates back to Shep’s point #11
“Create a consistent experience. Everyone does their best every day. Customers want and expect a consistent, positive attitude from everyone they come into contact with.”
Points #2 and #5
“Speaking of basics, use the customer’s name. It helps with building rapport.” AND
“Let your customers know your name and how to contact you so if they are inadvertently disconnected, have another question, or there is any other reason they might need a “friend” at the company, they can easily get back in touch with you.”
Dale Carnegie said: “A man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the language.”
It is just common courtesy to always use our customers’ and patients’ names when we are talking to them and also when we are talking about them with other colleagues.
It shows a respect of the customer to use their name.
And conversely, it shows dramatic disrespect to use generic non-descript forms of recognition when we should be using their names.
Similarly, it’s always important to introduce ourselves by name to our customers as quickly as possible.
This is a very warm act of reciprocity that we use to break down those “Us and Them” barriers that often exist in a Dental Office.
“Thank you for calling XYZ Dental. This is Jodie. How may I help you?”
“Good morning! You must be Mrs. Smith. Welcome to ABC Dental. I’m Tanya. I spoke with you on the phone….”
“Good afternoon Mr. Jones. My name is Kelly. I’ll be assisting Dr Moffet with your appointment today. How’s your day been so far?”
Points #3, #6 and # 7
“Always do what you say you are going to do. If you say you’ll call back in five minutes, don’t make it ten.”
“Respond quickly. Return calls, emails, and any other types of requests quickly.”
AND “Be punctual for meetings. It’s expected you will be on time. It’s a sign of disrespect if you aren’t.”
Patients and customers always notice your promptness and diligence at dealing with them and their concerns quickly.
And they’ll always remember if you delay getting back to them.
So be prompt.
Deal with their concerns as soon as you possibly can and not “when you’ve got time” to get around to it.
On that same note, be on time with your meetings and appointments.
A friend of mine’s father used to say:
“If you’re not fifteen minutes early, then you’re late.”
It’s a great mantra to have for life.
It’s also a very important trait to exhibit at the beginning of your morning and afternoon sessions of dentistry.
So many times I see Dentists and Assistant Dentists and staff arriving for work right on the time that the appointment is meant to be beginning, only to be greeted as they walk in the front door by the patient who has arrived early.
This scenario is so wrong.
Respect your patients’ time with courtesy.
“Treat employees the way you want your customers treated, if not even better. What’s happening inside an organization is felt on the outside by the customer.”
If you want your team members to be giving great Customer Service and an Ultimate Patient Experience you must treat them exactly the same way that you treat and deal with your customers.
Always speak to your employees with the same tone and language that you use with your customers.
Always greet your employees each morning exactly the same way that you would greet a patient or customer.
And always take time during the day and at the end of the day to praise and thank each employee for their help and assistance that day.
It’s also wise to make sure that your employees are also treating each other in exactly the same way.
On a team, we are each other’s customers.
And we need to remember these things.
2015 is shaping up to being a year of great promise.
Follow these great tips from Shep Hyken and you’ll get the year off to a great start!
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Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com
January is a great time to plan improvements for your Dental Office.
It’s a good time to think of things that need attention and set wheels in motion to make improvements.
Here are some clear and simple things you can begin today to make 2015 one of your best years ever.
Evaluate Your Team
Take a good look at your Dental Office team.
Are they all doing what they need to be doing to help your business move in the direction that YOU want it to be going?
Are they all doing what they need to be doing to help your business move in the direction that it’s capable of moving in?
Are all your team members on board?
Are they all supportive of the results you want to achieve?
One or two staff that are NOT “with the programme” can really divert the bus from the direction it needs to be travelling.
Make sure that everyone is working for the common good.
Make sure that you yourself are not holding back your business.
Sometimes I see great Dental Offices being strangled by beliefs and actions of the Principal Dentist that prevent the practice from moving to new levels.
Levels that can be easily achieved if the Dentist would just get out of their own way!
“My patients would never want that”
“My staff would never allow me to do that”
These are two very limiting phrases that I hear dentists say that are more reflective of the dentist than of the staff or the patients.
You’ll be surprised how loyal and trusting your patients are when you suggest new treatments and new experiences for them.
I recently saw a Dental Office where the hygiene department *EXPLODED* when it was suggested to those patients in need that three-monthly visits would be better for their Oral Health than the six monthly visits that they had been receiving.
The patients jumped at the opportunity of improving their oral care with additional visits.
I saw another office fill out its appointment schedule dramatically by diagnosing *AND PLANNING* and booking restorative work that it had previously been hesitant to treat.
Again, it was the patients wanting to protect their heavily restored teeth with more sustainable comprehensive dentistry that created this demand for the Doctor.
In both these cases it was the limiting beliefs of those in the practice that had previously been “holding patients back” from receiving the treatment that they needed and wanted.
Seek Better Advice
Are you receiving the best advice?
Are you getting the best help that you need to allow your Dental Office to improve?
Improvement for your Office means ultimately improved collections and an improvement in your Bottom Line.
And when that happens theirs more money for the practice to invest in itself, and invest in its team.
And there’s more money to pay dividends to the practice owners as well.
How is your accounting advice?
Are you getting the best tax advice, or could it be better?
And how’s your advertising and marketing going for you?
Do you have a systematic plan for the next twelve months and beyond to make the people of your community sit up and take note that your Dental Office is the only place they should ever be going for all their dental needs.
And no other.
And are you treating those patients of your practice in such a way that there’s no way in the big wide world that they would ever contemplate going anywhere else for their dentistry?
How’s your business advice?
Are you planning your growth by listening to those who know what works and what doesn’t?
Or are you listening to those who “think” something is a good idea, or those who might be waiting to see if that idea works for you before they “try it” themselves?
As dentists, as a whole, we are often so caught up in the technical side of what we do that we literally miss the opportunities of improvement for our practices because of the lack of correct advice.
Because we either don’t seek that advice or we act on poor or unqualified advice.
In 2015, make sure that your counsel is moving you and your practice to exactly where your practice needs to be heading.
If you’re not happy with your accountant then seek out a better accountant.
If you have no real knowledge of advertising and marketing seek out those who have and ask for their advice.
And if you want your practice to grow, seek out those practices that have grown and find out how they did it.
Seek Better Patients
There will always be people seeking better dental care.
The aim is to make those people seek it from you.
There will be members of the public who will be seeking a better Dental Office than where they have been previously going.
And there will be patients of your practice who will seek better care from you than you’ve been providing to them in the past.
The aim is to make sure that both these types of patients seek your Dental Office out as being the right place for their Dental needs.
For things to change in 2015, you must change.
Take these steps and make 2015 one of your best years ever!