Picture this. You’re coaching baseball. You have a red hot pitcher. But a not so good catcher. The catcher is so bad that he’s missing most pitches, and the baseballs are flying by him, way by him, and ending up in a drain behind the park where your team is practicing. Gone. Never to be seen again… So what do you do? Do you go out and buy more baseballs?
Week after week. Month after month. Would you? Of course not, that makes no sense. Yet that’s what most Dental Offices are doing when it comes to patients. They’re losing patients right out the back in exactly the same way that the baseball coach is losing baseballs. And the way they think they need to fix their patient shortage is to simply buy more new patients. Without fixing the reason why they’re losing patients in the first place. So what would the baseball coach do? Know Your Numbers Firstly, he’d know the number of baseballs he was buying, and then losing on a regular basis. He’d have his finger right on that number. The baseball coach would know the acquisition cost of each baseball. If he were buying them, he’d know how much he was spending on each ball. He’d also know how long each ball was lasting. And he’d be trying his hardest to make sure he got longevity. Do you know your numbers? How much does it cost you to acquire a new patient? And when you purchase marketing and advertising, how many new patients are you expecting to acquire with your purchase. From each marketing purchase? Do you know the longevity of the patients you are purchasing? Do whitening New Patients buy more treatment than relief of pain New Patients? Or ortho and Invisalign New Patients? How long do they each stay as patients in your Office? Fixing The Problem If buying more new baseballs doesn’t break your bank then I’d just keep on doing that. If money is no object and spending up on baseballs doesn’t faze you, then keep on doing that. But don’t come to me complaining when we finally end up with a shortage of baseballs… You could sack the catcher. He’s obviously not a good catcher. There has to be better kids around who can catch better than this loser kid. After all, why can’t he catch? Can’t all kids catch well? He just hasn’t got what it takes. Let him go and play in someone else’s team. Don’t worry that his family and friends will think you’re a ruthless coach. They’ll get over it. Or you could train the catcher to catch better? After all, he is the son of your son’s headmaster. And the headmaster does know a few people…. Would it matter that you’ve never really sat down with the catcher and taught him how to catch better? Can’t everybody catch? Sure, other members of the team need extra tuition. Batters. We need to always be practicing our batting. We can’t expect to win our matches if we can’t hit the baseball properly. And we can’t win our matches if we cannot pitch well. So we need to practice our pitching. You see, in Dentistry, we never spend time training our catchers. We spend time training our clinical team. After all, we’re down there working alongside them all day every day. So it’s easy to guide them and train them to be better. To do it the way we want it. But our Front Office People are away from us. They’re not there beside us. They’re not even visible to us. And unlike the baseball catcher, we don’t see them missing their catches because we’re too busy drilling. But missing their catches they are. And you’ll know this because you’re watching their numbers aren’t you? On a daily basis you are reviewing these figures:
The number of new patient enquiry calls received by your office.
The number of new patient appointments scheduled from those calls.
The number of cancellation calls and the reasons for each of those cancellations.
The number of patients rescheduling, and the reasons for each of those calls.
The number of patients on the day declining treatment and leaving without scheduling their next appointment.
And of course, you are checking these numbers against each team member, to see who is your best catcher, and who is not. Of course, culling catchers and buying more baseballs is not the answer…. And in dentistry, culling staff and spending money on more new patients is not the answer. So what is the answer? The answer is simple. You need to train your team members to be the best they can be. Are you training your front office team to answer the phone better? The best that they can be? Or are you simply throwing them a mitt and hoping they can catch some? Some more than the previous catcher? After all, you’re too busy with your patients and your clinical staff, aren’t you? So, you either don’t know how to train your front office to answer the phone better, or you do not have the time to train them either…. But they do need training…. So why would you not employ someone to train your staff to be better than they are? Why would you bother doing it yourself at your hourly rate [of $1000.00 per hour], when you could pay a specialist to come in and do it for you [at a lower hourly rate than you], while you keep drilling teeth? To me it’s a no brainer. One of my clients also employs a phone skills coach for her front office team. My client’s ROI on the money spent on coaching with both me and the phone training is a whopping *TWELVE* times!! Her collections have gone up twelve times the amount of money spent on coaching. If you found a slot machine that returned you twelve dollars every time that you put in one dollar, how many dollars would you put into that slot machine? As many as you can!! Even if your ROI was only three times your investment, wouldn’t you keep feeding that slot machine? Well, sadly, the answer is “no” for some dentists…. Some dentists just don’t get it… Some dentists still feel they need more new patients… Yet their internal systems and trainings are so skewwhiff… Don’t you just hate it when a patient with severe perio only wants Zoom Whitening? Really? The answer to your patient problem is as plain as the nose on your face. Is it time to look in the mirror? Are you trying to ignore your catcher? Are you still just buying more baseballs? ****** Have you read my book , How To Build The Dental Practice of Your Dreams [Without Killing Yourself!] In Less Than Sixty Days. You can order your copy here: Click Link To Order ***** The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that 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 firstname.lastname@example.orgDid you like this blog article? If you did then hit the share buttons below and share it with your friends and colleagues. Share it via email, Facebook and twitter!!
How should the Dentist greet the new patient for the first time?
It’s said that first impressions count.
“You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.”
You know the drill.
So what’s the best way of greeting the new patient?
I guess it depends upon your Dental practice philosophy.
Who in your practice routinely brings the patient down from the client lounge?
Is it the Dental Assistant? Or is it the Dentist?
In my office, as you know, I worked out of alternate treatment rooms with a Dental Assistant in each treatment room. So while I was treating one patient in Room Number 1, Room Number 2 was being torn down and set up for the next patient. When I was finished in Room Number 1, there would be a patient in and seated and ready in the chair in Room Number 2.
So I always greeted the new patients exclusively in the treatment room.
One of the key drivers for this was I liked it for my other team members to have an elevated role in the patients’ visits, and for me, the Dentist, to have a lesser role.
If the patient, be they new or existing, has people spending time with them prior to their physical treatment, they are mentally in a much better space than they are if they are simply just “parked” in a waiting room until it’s time to meet the Dentist.
When they are attended to by a Concierge then they feel valued and respected.
When they are told to “take a seat” and wait their turn until they are called, they will feel more like a number and less like a person.
So it only goes to follow on that if the Dental Assistant can bring the patient from the Client Lounge to the treatment room, then she too can accept a “concierge role” now in your office, and spend time “visiting” with the patient until the Dentist is available to treat the patient.
Remember, children spell “love” T.I.M.E.
And patients spell attention the exact same way. T.I.M.E.
When someone spends time with us we tend to like them.
In that same way, when a business spends time with us, we tend to like that business much more than if we are left alone and ignored until someone is ready to do business with us.
So in this way, it then makes logical sense that the Dentist greeting the New Patient who has been “concierged” is simply being brought into a conversation and joins that conversation and then takes over that conversation.
Whereas the dentist who goes to the front and greets his “waiting” new patient can sometimes be starting from a handicapped position, especially if for some reason the patient has truly been kept waiting.
And by “waiting” I mean any time frame longer than they should have been.
On their own.
That’s not going to be getting this new relationship off to a good start.
If you have the right people greeting your patients and concierging them out front, and if you have the right people assisting you in the treatment room who can also concierge and spend time with your valued patients, then the transitioning of you the Dentist into an existing conversation is a far more comfortable Segway than any other.
Unless you want to be the ALMIGHTY DENTIST!
If you are so enamored with your own importance that you believe that nobody else in your office should be doing the greeting other than you, then keep on doing it that way, because I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be difficult to change your ways.
When you as the dentist enter the treatment room to meet a new patient engaged in conversation with your well trained Dental Assistant and are brought into the conversation and you take over the conversation, then a transferal of trust occurs.
The feelings of trust and liking that the new patient has begun to develop because they have been attended to are simply transferred across to you the dentist far more easily than if you greet them in a cold lonely waiting room.
So as such, the Dentist would simply be joining in the conversation.
My Dental Assistant would announce my arrival into the room [the doors in my treatment room were located behind the patient] and I would greet the patient with a firm handshake and introduce myself as “David”.
I would then stand beside and in front of the patient to offer my next sentence, whatever that would be. Depending upon the transfer from the Dental Assistant, I may continue the topic of conversation with the patient, or I may begin questioning the patient about what we can be doing for them today.
It just depends upon the nature of the handover from the Dental Assistant as to which way I would take the conversation.
I would then listen attentively to whatever the patient was saying, and at the appropriate time, I would then and only then take a seat myself on my doctors’ stool so as to join into a conversation with the new patient on an “eye to eye and knee to knee” basis.
Remember, the new patient that you are now meeting has most likely already met you virtually.
They’ll have been online, seen your pictures on your website, and watched your online videos.
They’ll have already read your bio, and decided that you’re the Dentist they want.
The behaviours of your concierging receptionist and your concierging dental assistant have only added to the new patient’s belief that they are indeed in the right place.
And so the entrance of the Dentist into their experience should only be to “rubber stamp” and confirm their educated decision and belief.
The feeling the new patient should experience should be more like they were being introduced to a new friend at a cocktail party or social gathering.
Remember in the movie “The Wizard of Oz”, as Dorothy journeyed along the Yellow Brick Road she became more and more convinced that the Wizard was going to be the person to get her back to Kansas. In the end it did not matter to her that he was just a little old man behind a curtain.
For Dorothy, it was much more about the journey than about the wizard himself.
One of the joys of owning a business is to maintain its uniqueness.
When our business fails to be unique it loses its point of difference and fades back to blend in with everybody else.
It becomes vanilla.
There’s a weird equilibrium that needs to be established as you strive to gain your competitive edge in your marketplace.
Because what sets you apart from your competitors and makes you stand out from the crowd can also be easily copied by your competitors.
And I suppose that mimicry is the greatest form of flattery.
But it kind of gets frustrating sometimes when your point of difference starts to pop up in places that it should not.
The way that McDonalds Corp dealt with its competitors who copied was to not try and sue their pants off but rather to just keep getting better and better at what they do, so that the competitors were left behind eating the dust of yesterdays gone by.
It is disappointing when you see your intellectual property used, or misused, without permission.
The trouble is, there’s so much vanilla around that it’s not hard to see when something else stands out from the crowd.
Dan Kennedy used to say that the best way to be successful in business is to look at what every one of your competitors is doing and then simply do the opposite.
And similarly, you can take note of those who are doing what you think is different from the crowd. They could be onto something that you could tweak to your advantage.
I’m not suggesting “borrowing” someone else’s hard work.
And through the years I’ve seen some obvious blatant theft of Intellectual Property by those who should know better.
I’ve seen the name “Active Dental” pop up in other places across town. Hmm. Haven’t those other dentists got an original bone in their body?
And the practice name Fine Dentistry. I know it originally belonged to a friend of mine, but it sure appears in a lot more places than it should.
But what’s in a name?
What’s in the words?
As I teach and write and coach there are those who say they do what I do.
But they don’t.
They’re simply mouthing it.
If they didn’t invent it how could they believe in it?
And deliver it with passion?
It’s just lip service.
“Word Class Dental Customer Service” and “Ultimate Patient Experiences” are best learned from the inventor and not from some cheap plagiarist adding it into their presentation and going along for the ride.
Because it’s more than just a ten minute segment, or five pages in your book somewhere.
Sure, there’ll always be copy watches for $20.00. And fake LV bags.
But there’s no substitute for owning a TAG Heuer watch.
And I’m sure that telling your mum that you dragged off a European car at the lights is not the same peace of mind you would have as parking one in your garage each night.
Seek out the innovators. And seek out those who have done the hard yards.
Because they’ll always have great ideas. Not just other people’s copy.
Remember, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…
Last week I began a discussion on the best way of reducing cancellations and no-shows in your Dental Office schedule. Paramount in this is the ability of the Dentist and the Dental Team to “frame up” the next appointment for the patient in such a way that they are in complete and total certainty that they will be there to have the next stage of there treatment.
The antithesis if this is an unclear patient who has no idea at all why they have to come back. Nor do they understand or remember what is the reason for their next visit, because at present they just feel fine and nothing is hurting.
Without the creation of this clarity of purpose in the eyes of the patient, even the best receptionist in the world is going to have a difficult time in reversing the cancellation call.
Nor will she be able to persuade the patient who needs to “check their diary” or needs to “think about it” to make that appointment then and there on the day.
The primary driver of low cancellation rates and patient compliance in your Dental Office is the creation of an Ultimate Handover protocol for the transference of the patient, and their information, from the treatment room to the front office reception area.
To me, this process needs to be verbal rather than written, typed, or electronic.
And it needs to be a multi-session process, where repetition of the verbal communications creates greater acceptance and compliance.
The More Times We Hear Something, The More We Understand.
If we hear something once only there is less chance of us retaining the message than if we hear it twice or three times over.
And that’s the whole premise and purpose of creating a systematic process of handing over and checking out the patient.
I have seen offices where there is an excessively high rate of cancellations and no-shows and that is primarily because of the poor or non-existent handovers that occur in those offices.
At these offices they tend to rely on computer networks to convey to the front desk the sizes of restorations just competed, and also the difficulties, and challenges experienced by the dentist, and the patient, during that just completed appointment.
As if this ever really happens?
The sad thing is that even if computers could convey all this information from the back to the front flawlessly and comprehensively, which they do not, these computers can’t ever engage the patient in an agreement of sorts that these events really did just happen.
Whereas people can.
And there in lies the magic.
Because the impersonal “virtual” electronic transfer won’t hold a patch on the multi-step person to person Ultimate Handover of the completed patient.
On top of this the Dentist must complete the Ultimate Handover with Five Non-Clinical steps that create true connection with the patient on a non-treatment level.
And it is these five steps that truly set your Office apart from your Dental neighbours.
Because your patients won’t ever be treated this well anywhere else on a consistent basis.
So here they are:
The Dentist needs to look the patient in the eye, and thank them sincerely for their time.Each and every patient. Each and every time.There is no point in being haphazard when it comes to consistency. Genuinely thanking each patient for their time each and every time you see them truly creates world-class connection with your patients
The Dentist needs to compliment the patient on being such a great patient for you today.Everybody loves recognition. No matter what their age, everybody loves to feel appreciated and complimented.
The Dentist needs to farewell the patient with sincere wishes of best wishes and good health. Genuinely telling the patient to “keep well” and saying, “look after yourself” goes far beyond just being polite.
The Dentist needs to recognise or re-recognise any significant event coming up for the patient that will occur before their next visit. This may be something that the patient may have discussed with the Dentist already, or it may be some information the patient has shared with a team member that has been acquired by the Dentist via Secret Service Systems. Either way, patients always feel more valued when they feel they are considered to be more than just the “next tooth”.
The Dentist needs to look to create any Above and Beyond Experiences for the patient. If the patient has mentioned something personal, the Dentist may have an opportunity to provide an article or small gift that may be appropriate in that situation.The ability of the Dentist to create an unexpected *WOW* for the patient truly will differentiate your Dental Office to be above any other office in your area.
These five personal points delivered on top of the five clinical points that I discussed last week are extremely important and crucial in creating the perfect Ultimate Handover and differentiating your Dental Office as being truly different from every other practices around.
These five steps truly help to establish you and your Dental Office as being a friend. The patient leaves feeling like they have just been visiting a friend. Most other Offices around are treating their patients so impersonally that they feel like they are just a number or an item on a conveyor belt.
When the Dental Assistant transfers the patient to the Front Office for the handover out there she too can create an Ultimate Handover with the Dental Front Office team member if she duplicates these ten steps into her handover.
Obviously she can personalise her farewell to be relevant to any private discussions she has had with this patient, rather than duplicating the Doctor’s conversation.
A personalized Ultimate Handover is so much more powerful than an impersonal one, and even more powerful than a digital or virtual transfer of the patient.
Patients leaving with the total clarity created by the personalised handovers also understand the reasons why they will be returning. But they also return because of the bond, and the connection they have with our valued team members.
These simple common courtesies extended each time to every Patient at each and every visit go a long way to setting your Dental Office apart as being truly World Class.