Have you ever looked at restaurant reviews online?
You can learn a heck of a lot if you do…
Last night I was browsing through Trip Advisor looking at the local restaurants and eateries in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, where our farm is located.
One restaurant that really stood out amongst others was the local Burrawang General Store and Café.
The reason it stood out to me was that every review it had received on Trip Advisor had been commented upon by the owner.
If a patron had left a great review the owner had added in a personal thank you comment to the reviewer, and thanked them for their review.
If the reviewer had left comments about expectations not being met then the owner had made comments to resolve any issues with a favourable win-win outcome being sought.
In both type of responses the owner had taken a few minutes only to engage with the reviewer.
Everybody who writes a review does so primarily to seek recognition for their comments.
To be reached out to by the owner of the restaurant in a prompt and courteous and grateful manner is certainly a way for this café owner to say:
“Hey, we’re different here.”
So many times a point of difference is all it takes to achieve substantial results.
In this case, the courteous and friendly contact from the owner provides a significant point of difference.
Why is it a point of difference?
Because not many other restaurants out there are doing things this way.
Most restaurants out there aren’t engaging with their patrons at all.
By so doing, this café owner can easily stand head and shoulders above her competition.
What are you doing with your dental office’s online presence to make it stand head and shoulders above your competitors?
In this day and age the social media tools out there are working *with* us as business owners to help us gain a more prominent online presence.
You see, now when you check in on your Facebook page that you are visiting a certain place or restaurant or business, that information about your visit is fed back to you at a later hour or later date.
And this mainly comes in the form of a request for more information from the social media site or review site.
Have you noticed this?
Have you noticed that as you are hurtling along through the airport after de-planing that your cell phone receives a message from your airline requesting information about the following question:
“How was your flight?”
And I know that it’s often the last thing you feel like doing at that moment, but some people take the time to answer these surveys right then and there….
I noticed last night that my personal Trip Advisor had a list of ten venues on it that I had visited but was still yet to review.
And that list serves as a memory jogger for me until I finally get around to leaving a review for those places.
How can we use this in our dental practice?
Nearly everybody out there is carrying a smartphone.
So why not ask your patients to check in on Facebook when they visit your Dental office?
Straight away your patient is now at this point running an advertisement for you on their social media, because they’re letting their 350-1500 friends on Facebook know that at this point in time they are visiting your dental office.
And some of those friends of your patient will click onto the link to *your* Facebook page to see what sort of a dentist their friend likes to go and see.
Secondly, your patient will receive a prompt from Facebook to leave a review of your business/Dental Office experience on your business’s Facebook page.
By making sure that your team and your office are on the ball giving great service to all of your customers, you leave your customers feeling that it is their duty to share their positive experience about your great customer service.
And that’s what they will do.
It is important to let your customers know that this sequence of events is what is going to happen, and to have a designated person in your Dental Office available to help with these patients and their Social media needs if required.
The thing is that online reviews are one of the important things that new patients are looking to find when they seek out a new dentist.
New patients are looking for good solid Social Proof to support or to validate their choice of business, be it a dental office or be it a café.
And because of restaurant review sites, and because of travel review sites and because of book review sites, and all the other review sites out there, the public are conditioned to be looking out for “what others are saying”.
So it’s important to be helping your happy customers find independent places to spread the word.
One dentist I know in Queensland was seeing a significant number of new patients who were finding and reading the Google reviews about her practice online. [Google reviews are an independent review site].
This dentist had over thirty Five-Star-Reviews while her nearest competition had something like four or five reviews.
When a new patient starts reading these reviews, there’s a great chance that they’ll be more likely to choose the dentist with the significantly larger number of reviews.
This is social proof in action again.
Throughout my travels I see location after location after location where Social Media and Review sites are not being utilised.
And who misses out here?
The patient misses out.
Because the patient doesn’t get led to the best possible dentist.
It is important that your satisfied patients know how to leave reviews of their great experiences at your Dental office on independent sites.
People too stupid to pay for good advice and instead asking laypeople to give them advice.
You see it on the golf course.
You see it at the cafés and restaurants.
And you see it in the workplace.
Have you ever seen someone ask a layperson for a medical opinion?
“What do you think this thing is on my arm?”
That has to be one of the dumbest things you can do.
Does the person being asked have a Masters Degree in Dermatology?
They may have some skin of their own?
They may have watched one of those medical “freak shows” once or twice on the Television?
And yet there are plenty of real Doctors and real medical GPs around…
And still people ask the opinion of a layperson…
I see it on the golf course.
Average golfers taking unqualified advice from other average golfers.
Neither of whom are trained golf professionals or instructors….
Neither of whom are trained to diagnose faults in a golf swing.
Neither of whom are trained to correct faults ina golf swing….
And there are plenty of golf professionals and instructors around to give lessons…. real lessons that really count!
And in Dentistry it is no different.
There are dentists who seek advice about their businesses from other dentists, those of whom who may never have been or are yet to be successful in running a Dental Business.
Down here in Australia there’s a corporate dental entity whose practice principal handler has never successfully run a dental practice of his own.
So we have an absolute tosser telling dentists what’s best for their practice of dentistry, and yet he’s taken more paychecks from corporations than he would have taken from real life actual paying patients.
Someone who admits to the dental office staff at one of the poor practices he’s meant to be advising that he’s never actually ever had to do any of the stuff that he’s espousing that they now need to be doing…
How can that person ever *BE* an authority, let alone be placed as an authority?
The mind boggles.
Now don’t get me wrong….
There will always be people who know business who can come from one business to another and be successful in both and in all.
Because the principles of business are common sense.
And there are people who are successful in all aspects of their business despite the fact that they may never have performed all aspects of that business.
And there are others who know their niche back to front.
And stick exclusively to that niche.
On the whole it is important to do your homework and research on who is giving you advice
And yes, sure, there are people who by their very nature can be successful and an authority easily no matter what sort of business they turn their hands to.
But remember these results:
95% of people are unable to retire themselves voluntarily at age 65 and still maintain the lifestyle they had when they were working
Put simply, only 5% of the population can afford to quit working at age 65.
Only one in twenty people out there has gotten it right by age 65.
Interestingly, only 3% of the world’s population have written down goals that they read regularly.
Do you think that there may be a correlation between this fact and the previous statistic?
Lastly, ask this question of others:
“What are the last five books that you’ve read?”
There is a direct correlation between success and successful mindset and self-education.
The answer to this question will astound you….
[And “Fifty Shades of Grey” should not be one of those books….]
Before taking advice from someone, make sure that they are headed in the right direction.
There’s no doubt that out there in the big wide world that Customer Service in Dentistry is at best disjointed and at worst very non-existent.
And it’s simply because the processes of “Review and Improve” are never put into place for a dental office.
Who is doing the reviewing?
Who is doing the training and the education that result in the improvement?
In most cases the answer to both of these questions is:
And the answer to the question as to who the team believes should be in charge of both of these processes?
And he is usually too busy doing the dentistry to be checking and reviewing and then allocating time necessary to be training to improve skills for his team members.
Dentistry is a different model compared to other businesses.
Yes it is.
In traditional retail, or in food, you’ll have a maître de, or a concierge, or a supervisor out walking the floor, helping to check things and to schmooze with customers and staff and to make sure that things are going as they should be, or as they need to be going.
But that’s difficult to do in dentistry.
Because the person who owns the store is usually running the store and doing the work, or the dentistry.
Down the back somewhere.
And because of that, he usually has his head down in someone’s mouth all day long, and rarely has the opportunity to observe and nurture his team.
Most of what is going on in his practice is happening behind his back while he is busy doing what he needs to be doing, which is the dentistry.
He’s busy doing something else other than supervising and observing.
Because he just can’t.
Not only are the majority of the patients’ experiences with the practice occurring behind the dentist’s back, but they are also occurring outside of the room that the dentist spends most of his day inside of.
And so if he’s busy fixing teeth, he really has no inert idea about all the “other things” going on in his practice.
How the phone is being answered
Whether the phone is being answered well
Whether the patients are being greeted well
Whether the waiting patients are being concierged or ignored out the front
How the patients are being greeted and called by the clinical staff
How the patients are being entertained by the clinical staff while waiting in the treatment room
How are the patients being cared for if the dentist needs to leave the treatment room for a moment
How is the patient welcomed at the front following treatment
How is the patient greeted when they arrive at the front following treatment
How is the patient discussing ongoing treatment needs with the office staff
What are the office staff saying to help the patients accept their necessary treatment
How is the patient being farewelled at the end of their appointment
Who is supervising the education and the training of the team members?
And is the team playing by the practice “play-book” when the lights are not on them?
Or are they making up their own plays while there is little supervision, and little accountability, and little interest in training and results?
Some dentist owners believe that the perfectly run dental office is purely and simply a pipe dream that is unachievable.
However, some dentists out there have achieved success in building a well-oiled and well-orchestrated team of customer service professionals who have all of their systems and protocols in place and being acted out with precision.
And when you work in one of those offices where everyone knows their role and the result for the team of what can be achieved by everyone doing what they should do and what needs to be done is magnificent, well then, then, we have a business.
A systemised business that delivers world-class service.
Where the patient sees, feels and knows the difference between what your business is offering, and what every other business out there is simply slapping up and dishing out as “adequate”.
Because adequate just doesn’t cut it any more.
Adequate is the new unsatisfactory.
To succeed and rise above the ashes of mediocrity we need to know what is going on out there and we need to know how to make things different.
And when we achieve this, we have then achieved a significant point of difference.
And you know what?
Out there in the market place, as we see the intrusion of corporatisation into dental supply, there is still opportunity to stand out from the crowd by offering good old fashioned home grown Customer Service.
Of a World Class nature.
And if you build it, people will beat a path to your door.
Because a world of everybody doing the alternative, being only adequate, is not a very attractive proposition.
And it won’t be embraced by all.
There will always be people who will seek out good old-fashioned down to earth customer service.
And they will be happy to pay for that service when they find it.
Do You Need A Dental Accountant Or A Regular Accountant?
And the answer is simple.
The answer is:
It depends upon you.
Some dentists need a dental accountant.
It makes them feel “safe”, knowing that their figures, their books, and their performance, are being overseen by someone who “knows” their industry.
“How am I going compared to my colleagues?”
This is a common question being asked by clients of a dental accountant.
There is some surety to know that, in a pool of dentists associated with each other by who does their books, you have a benchmark to make comparisons.
“Your collections are above the average for my clients.”
“Your staff expenses are higher than the average for my clients.”
“You’re paying more rent per square foot than my average dentist client is paying.”
The list goes on….
How about this one?
“Your spouse is spending 46% more than my average dental client’s spouse is spending…”
There is a *surety* of association knowing that if we dentists are all together with this firm who specialises in looking after dentists then we must be better off than if we were simply using an accountant who looks after a wide range of businesses.
And I get that sense of togetherness.
And for a proportion of the profession there is peace of mind with that surety.
Others prefer to be running with a different crowd.
There’s a counter thought for the entrepreneurial dentist…
Would he be better off being looked after by an accountant who looks after other entrepreneurs from a variety of industries and careers other than dentistry?
Is there something to be learned by associating with industries other than our own?
There’s certainly an argument for this case as well.
Staying with the pack may stifle the entrepreneur dentist.
He might be better off learning and hearing about some non-dental successes and failures?
After all, every business, be it dental or non-dental, is really trying to make more money and to make more profit.
And the easiest way to achieve this at the end of the day is to
Collect more. Have more dollars coming in to your business.
Spend less. Have lower outgoings and overheads.
Invest better. Put your profits to work wisely.
All these can be achieved in an environment away from the gatherings of similarity of source of income.
It’s a tough decision to make….
A dentist friend of mine has jumped from accountant to accountant to accountant.
He’s had some interesting stories with a variety of firms, and found underperformance and disappointment both in specialist firms and non-specialist firms.
It’s a decision that you need to make for yourself, that depends upon your comfort levels according to your knowledge requirements and your own profiling in personality and in performance.
There is always debate as to the best way to answer the dental office phone.
Which greeting should you use?
The phone greeting that we found worked best in our office was this:
“Thank you for calling ABC Dental. This is Elizabeth. How may I help you?”
This greeting was constructed as the combination and integration of three very important and necessary parts.
Together all three unite to create a truly transformational and magical greeting for your caller to hear.
Let’s look at those components and see why they work so well.
“Thank you for calling ABC Dental.”
This sentence sets the tone for the whole call.Firstly, the use of the words “Thank you” tells the caller immediately that we are appreciative of them making the call to our office. We are leading on the front foot here with gratitude.
We are also identifying the name of our Dental Office.
I make this comment, because I often hear of Dental Offices where they do not identify their office by name, when calling on the phone or answering the phone.
Sometimes I hear them call themselves “The Dentist”.
It’s always important to use the Office name.
After all, the caller could be a wrong number, who will be so impressed with your greeting that they will remember you, and tell their friends about you.
Lastly, the use of the “Thank you” reduces the need to greet the caller with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”. And when we use those time related greetings, there wills always be checking, hesitancy, errors, and corrections.
Eliminating the time related greeting adds to your professionalism by reducing unforced errors.
“This is Elizabeth”
Short and sweet and succinct.We need to let the caller know with whom they are talking. We need to let them identify that team member by their name.
This eliminates the question in the callers’ minds as to which employee is answering the phone, and what is their name. By doing this, we are identifying ourselves on an even more personal level for the caller to connect with us as people and not simply as an Office that performs dentistry.
We found this line to be far more professional than saying “You’re speaking with Elizabeth” which implies that *you should be so lucky to be speaking with Elizabeth* or “Elizabeth speaking” which implies a touch of boredom that *Elizabeth would rather be doing something else than answering the phone*.
“How may I help you?”
This is the most important part of the three-part greeting.Because it really is telling the caller that we are ready for them to let us know what is wrong with them and to let us know about their situation.
We are giving the caller immediate permission to start letting us know why they have called.
Remember that whoever is asking the questions during the phone call is the person in control.
So we need to open service with a question.
The beauty of this question is that although it asks a question, what it really is saying to the caller is this:
“I’m here to help you.”
And so this magical greeting let’s the caller know that our Dental Office, and Elizabeth, are here to solve their problem.