In the blog post on Customer Service in Dentistry that I wrote earlier this week I mentioned how another great article on Customer Service written by Shep Hyken had recently come across my desk.
In that blog post I explained how there exists a direct correlation between the application of World Class Customer Service Systems and their immediate effects upon the business of Dentistry.
Our businesses of Dentistry.
Because there are effects and benefits that you will see immediately upon your collections, and your bottom line.
All decisions we choose to make as Dentists need to be made as Businessmen first and foremost.
Because as a business owner, there’s absolutely no point in doing things, or more importantly *FAILING* to do things, that will impact unfavourably or negatively upon your bottom line.
But some times we do.
As dentists, as a whole, we’re guilty of failing to take the necessary actions that ensure our long-term financial stability and the success and viability of our Dental Offices.
We paint ourselves into figurative corners by our own inactions.
Because in dentistry, just as it is in business, you need to have long-term strategic plans.
Little things that we need to do on a regular basis that continue to maintain the financial well being of our businesses, of our practices.
We can’t keep continuing to think of our practices as *NOT* being businesses.
And sadly sometimes that’s what we are doing.
As I wrote on Tuesday, I was recently explaining to a dentist how he would be easily able to add $100,000.00 to his collections over the next two years.
I told him how he could achieve this extra income by doing only three very small very simple little things.
I explained to him how these extra takings in collections would be easily achieved by him simply looking at his customer service systems for retaining patients, by improving the way his phone was answered, and by gently adjusting his fees.
Well, actually, the changes that I showed him were so simple they would have added $158,290.00 in revenue to his collections!
So he’d only have to have a two-thirds result of not much change at all to be adding that extra six figures of collections to his takings….
Here’s what I told him to do:
Adding two extra new patients per month to your New Patient numbers would see an additional $48,000.00 in revenue entering the practice. [In very broad numbers, I’ve found that the average adult New Patient has about a $2000.00 initial two-year value in the average dental practice.]
Improving the phone answering skills of those people in his front office would easily see the addition of at least two new patients per month to the number of new patients scheduling appointments.
Preventing the loss of two patients per month through leakage and attrition by improving customer service would retain $59,040.00 of revenue being lost to the practice. [The average regular patient has four hygiene visits and two to three restorative procedures, on average, over a two-year period. Average spend of $615.00 per year].
Every Dental Office is bleeding patients.
Patients who should be remaining loyal to our practices are leaking out through the cracks in our processes simply because of lack of attention to detail.
And our team.
It’s well recognised that the number one reason that our valued customers leave our practices and go elsewhere for their dentistry is because of apathy and perceived apathy by our staff and team members towards those valued customers.
And for that, there is no excuse.
Reducing, or better still removing that apathy will see a dramatic increase in retention numbers in your Dental Practices.
Lastly, but by no means leastly, I explained to this dentist how by applying a gentle fee increase of five percent to his professional fees now and another gentle five percent in twelve months time he will see the revenue collected over the next twenty-four months in his Office by $51,250.00 [assuming he had an average practice collecting an average half a million dollars in takings per annum].
Adding them up, these three simple minor changes that I showed this dentist would easily add an extra $158,290.00 in revenue to his collections!
So he’d only have to have a two-thirds result of not much change at all to be adding that extra six figures of collections to his takings….
There’s a very good correlation from this article to the practice of and the business of Dentistry.
You see, in business you need to have long-term strategic plans.
And in dentistry it’s no different.
I was recently explaining to a dentist how he could easily add $100,000.00 to his collections over the next two years by simply looking at his customer service systems for retaining patients, by improving the way his phone was answered, and by gently adjusting his fees.
Well actually the increase I showed him was so simple it would add $158,000.00 in revenue, so he’d only have to have a two-thirds result of not much change at all to be adding that extra six figures of collections…. More about that in this Friday’s blog coming up.
Anyway back to Shep. He wrote:
“She asked me how I planned to make those [future] goals a reality. I told her what had been successful in the past, and how it should continue to take me into the future. Her response took me by surprise. She informed me that I had been successful by accident. While I had my goals, the detail about how I planned to achieve these goals was minimal.”
This is much like how most businesses, and most Dental Offices, run their businesses.
They bumble along, hoping that what has worked in the past will keep working, but not really knowing exactly what it was that did work, and why it worked, and whether it will continue to work.
Most dentists I meet get to the end of the financial year and ask their accountant “How did I go? How much did I make?”
And they don’t really have any idea where what they made went…
“That made me think about how many organizations go about delivering great customer service. In effect, they do it by accident. They hire good people and hope they will deliver based on their past experience. Some companies take it a step further and have some training. Still they are just hoping to achieve what the customer would consider to be a great customer service experience.
Customer service doesn’t happen by accident.”.
This is exactly what I’ve found in Dentistry.
Dentists “hope” that Customer Service happens.
They have no detailed plan.
In fact, many don’t even consider Customer Service need to be even a system or a policy in their Office.
And that is really, really sad!
“The best companies don’t take a chance. They actually design the experience.
“It starts with hiring the right people and training them, but that still may not be enough.”
And that, right there, is the answer.
A lot of Dentists out there “hope” that they hire the right people, and “hope” that their instructions to those people will turn them into great customer service people, but they don’t train them.
And keep training them.
They’ll maybe tell them how something should be said, but they won’t have regular time allocated to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse.
Nor do those dental practices have a detailed script and protocol guide crafted purely and entirely from the viewpoint of the visiting customer.
Think about professional football teams for a minute.
They just don’t “turn up on game day” and wing it?
They have daily practices of the routine procedures of a game.
Day in and day out.
Week in and week out.
Over and over and over and over.
Until it’s learned and repeatable.
Until those plays are learned and repeatable.
Over and over and over and over.
They protect that football and treat it like gold.
But very few Dental Offices show that same respect for their valued customers and patients as these footballers show for that football.
Very few Dental Offices come anywhere near this detail at all.
“So here are a few steps in the process to help you move from accidental to purposeful amazing customer service.
1 . Already mentioned is hiring and training. By the way, training should be ongoing – not a one-time thing. Training isn’t something you did. It’s something you do. It doesn’t always have to be a big training session. If you have a weekly meeting, take several minutes to highlight customer service and share a tip.
2 Create the customer journey map. This is plotting out all of the touch-points that the customer has with your organization. This shows the obvious places where the customer can form an impression, and where the opportunities are to make that impression a Moment of Magic®.
3 When you are looking at the journey map, determine what goes on behind the scenes that drives the experience at any particular touch-point. For example, a server at a restaurant may take the customer’s order and five minutes later come back with the food. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes to ensure that food comes out in a timely manner and is prepared the way it is meant to be. What are the friction points that could hurt the front line touch-point? How can they be mitigated or even eliminated? What can you do to enhance or make the frontline touch-point better?
4 Train people on how to deal with mistakes and complaints. It’s not a matter of if you will ever have one of these Moments of Misery™, it’s when. The best companies make mistakes and have complaints, but they have trained their people and have a system that turns that Moment of Misery™ into a Moment of Magic®.
When I talk to Dentists and Dental Offices these are the exact same points that I emphasise that need to be put into practice to take an ordinary Dental Office and transform it into an extraordinary one.
1. Regular training. Ongoing. Just like the football teams do it.
2. Know your Dental Customer Experience Cycles and each and every stage that your clients pass through each and every time that they visit and connect with your office.
3. Know the components of each and every stage. Know the various standards and opportunities that exist at each point of the patient’s visit that we can WOW them and delight them.
And surprise them.
4. Know each of your potential Service Defects that can occur at any time during your patient’s visit to your practice, or even while connecting with your practice.
And know your Service Recovery Systems intimately, so that they can swing into action immediately if required.
Our Service Recovery should always attempt to be even more impactful than the experiential point where the customer just encountered a rare defect.
“Don’t rely on chance or luck to make you successful. Be purposeful. Plan with detail. A long-term successful customer service initiative doesn’t happen by accident.”
And that’s it in a nutshell.
Plan with detail.
And rehearse, practice, and perfect.
It is no accident that the successful companies are successful because they have a specific purpose.
And the procedures and protocols and practices to match.
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 +1 (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com
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You will have to wait until the end of the week to find out just how mathematically simple it is to add an extra $100,000.00 in billings to your office.
But if you’d like the detail, in the meantime please download my 36 page Special Report where I explain in detail how I was able to increase my Dental Fees a whopping 78 percent over an eight year period.
This post was actually an interim page to fill the three day lag between Tuesday’s blog [recently released], and Friday’s blog [just released].
I recently polled a group of my workshop attendee Dentists.
The answers to some questions were astounding.
But before I begin, any serious Australian cricket fan will be able to tell you Sir Donald Bradman’s Test Cricket batting average.
And any baseball fan can tell you Babe Ruth’s Major League Batting Average.
And his all time slugging percentage.
So it’s interesting when you ask a dentist his numbers.
How many new patients do you see per month?
And what’s a new patient worth to your practice?
I mean, what’s the average value of a new patient to you?
And the dentist won’t know.
And they’ll either tell you straight out that they don’t know, or you’ll know by their answer that they don’t know.
If they answer that the number of new patients they see per month is a multiple of five or ten, they don’t know.
And they’re guessing.
Because it’s a round number!!
And if they answer that the new patient value is a multiple of one hundred, they have no clue.
And if that answer is a multiple of five hundred or one thousand, then they really seriously have no clue.
Now we all know that at times when our appointment book is looking a little thin, the answer is obviously that we need more new patients.
So we go out and run some adverts.
Spend some more on marketing to bring those new patients to our door.
Because once the book is full, or fuller, well then we know that we’ll be making more money?
Or will we?
And how much?
It’s very difficult to judge the success of any marketing campaign if we don’t have *ACURATE* numbers of where we started and where we finished, to be able to tell us what we have achieved.
A lot of dentists don’t even keep accurate statistics of where their new patients have come from.
They don’t have an exact number of how many new patients came into the practice because they saw the ad we ran in the local newspaper.
They don’t know how many new patients arrived as a result of a letterbox drop campaign they ran.
They don’t know how many people came in as new patients because they saw “our new signage”.
And with this lack of knowledge in hand, it beggars belief that these same dentists are ready and willing to hand over greenbacks by the fist full for advertising and marketing they “feel” is effective.
When I ran my own practice I kept accurate statistics on these numbers.
I knew how effective each Yellow Pages book was each year in bringing new patient numbers and new patient dollars to my practice.
I knew exactly how many new patients came to us because they saw our ad in the local newspaper.
And I could tell you the average spend of those patients.
To the dollar.
And it wasn’t a round number.
It was armed with these numbers that I was able to anticipate trends and then pull the pin on marketing that had seen better days.
Because if you don’t know your numbers, your exact numbers, then throwing money at adverts “hoping” they’ll bring you some people is just bad silly business.
It makes no sense.
I pulled the plug on yellow pages advertising when the cost for the year was going to be forty percent of the dollar amount that it had brought in in the previous year.
Because, if my practice was running on sixty percent overhead, it made no sense to be spending the remaining forty percent from those patients to bring them in.
For a net zero gain.
For a net zero gain of that amount of collections it made more sense to just close my doors for two months.
It made no sense at all to be handing over my forty percent of profit from those Yellow Pages New Patients straight back to Yellow Pages.
What does make sense is to know accurately how much each new patient is worth to you, how many of them you are acquiring, and how much is that exact cost to acquire them.
Not knowing, or guessing in big round numbers?
Well that’s just not good business.
Sir Donald Bradman’s Test Cricket Batting Average was 99.94
Babe Ruth’s Major League Batting Average was .342
His all time slugging percentage was .690
My Melbourne and Sydney workshops have both SOLD OUT!!
Book NOW for Brisbane on May 16 to avoid disappointment!! https://bom.bz/u/1p7
I’m preparing this week for a brand new workshop I’m giving in Melbourne this coming Sunday.
Tickets for this workshop sold out within less than three days of its announcement, which was truly flattering.
At this workshop, I’ll be sharing with those lucky enough to have gained admission, some of the thought processes and mindsets needed to create an Ultimate Patient Experience Dental Practice.
I’m reminded constantly though, that an Ultimate Patient Experience is not something that your Dental Office does, it is something that your Dental Office *BECOMES*.
The skills gained by learning, internalising and processing the steps and stages that are The Ultimate Patient Experience are not a set of actions that you take from a box, use at your discretion throughout your day, and then replace into that box, and place it on the shelf, and then go home.
Moreover, The Ultimate Patient Experience becomes a Culture that you embrace.
One of my mentors, John DiJulius III, said:
“World class service is not something you deliver, it is a result of something you are.”
“In the delivery of World Class Customer Service, there is no Finish Line”
It’s never over.
Providing an Ultimate Patient Experience is an ongoing process of striving for excellence.
I had the pleasure of seeing Brian Tracy speak two years ago, and I took some great notes. He’s been around a long time, and I’ve seen him speak before, on several occasions.
I’ve read some of his books, I own more of them that I have yet to read, and I’ve listened to quite a considerable amount of his wisdom on audio.
Yet this time, in May 2013, he said this, and it made such perfect sense.
Brian Tracy said:
“Exceed Expectations every time.”
He went on to say:
“If you don’t, you will just be a commodity.”
And that’s it.
If you are not providing such a wonderful World Class Experience for your clients, patients and customers you leave them no alternative other than to judge you solely on price.
In so doing, you have effectively become a commodity.
Not a service.
Not an *EXPERIENCE*.
Tracy said to examine your systems to pre-empt ways of exceeding those expectations.
And it is that simple, really.
All you need to do is to create for your patients a Dental Customer Experience Cycle, as explained in The Ultimate Patient Experience, that is such a pleasure for the patient to experience that the doing of the dentistry becomes secondary to the world-class customer service that they experience at your place of business.
And that’s how you build it.
There are only a few tickets left available for my Sydney Workshop on Saturday March 21st. If you’re interested in learning how to take that next step to build an Ultimate Patient Experience Dental Office that differentiates itself from those other Dental Offices around you then you won’t want to miss this limited offer.