When you are in business you can make your own rules.
The rules don’t have to be fair, or even logical.
They can simply be YOUR rules.
Your customers, who want to do business with you, can choose to either play by your rules, or go elsewhere.
It’s that simple.
Your only duty, as a business owner, is to find the balance between your rules, and your business being a viable entity that is fun.
After all, if it isn’t fun then what is the point?
The point needs to be that your business can provide you with either a living, or a way of life, or simply an existence.
As the business owner you get to choose.
If you do not like your business, create a harsh environment that makes it difficult for customers and they will leave and go elsewhere.
If you want to work three days each week and have some “Lifestyle” you will need to create certain rules to attract and keep the correct type of client who is happy to do business with you on this sort of basis.
If your clients expect you to be available at their beck and call 24/7, then this will be a different business model.
Your level of serving, meaning the level of service that you provide to your clients while you are dealing with them, will determine how patient they will be should you ever not be available when they decide they need you.
Imagine this. If you have a busted pipe at home on a Sunday, and your regular plumber is out sailing for the day and is uncontactable, then maybe you might switch your allegiances to the plumber who you phone and hears the urgency in your voice and drops everything to come and help you out.
One of the dumbest things a business can do is to presuppose about their new clients without taking the time to get to know that new client.
Have you ever heard of a business that insults its new clients unwittingly without taking the time to get to know them?
The funny thing is, that with Google Maps now, you can get a good look at the home of the person you do business with so long as you have their address.
This is just one easy way to investigate whether or not the person is who they say they are….
Anyway, it’s amazing how the actions of one careless employee in a business may begin an avalanche of negative reactions towards that business as a result of a seemingly flippant or careless decision.
I’m constantly reminding the dentists that I coach that we need the whole team on board at all times and pulling in the same direction with the same enthusiasm, when it comes to interacting with our customers both existing and new.
Because if ever there is a fault or a weakness in the message that we are sending, then even the most grateful long term customer can become offended and take their business elsewhere.
And tell one hundred of their friends along the way.
Recently my son was disappointed that our home internet service provider was not offering consistent service, and we were regularly experiencing “service interruptions” and difficulties.
He convinced me to apply to switch carriers, and here is where we are up to so far:
The new carrier has just sent me the same letter twice to let me know that:
“We’ve taken a close look at all your details, and unfortunately on this occasion we’re unable to approve your application”
This application is for a postpaid account with the supplier.
The thing that got me about this was that to enquire why they made this decision required numerous online applications and a delay of possibly “10 working days” to receive an explanation.
There was no simple dispute resolution process available.
Calling the phone number on the website took three minutes of button pressing before being placed in a queue to speak to an operator with an expected wait time of “twenty minutes”?
No thank you.
On top of this, their website says:
“Optus aims to lead Australia in delivering outstanding customer experience…”
I don’t think so.
It’s all good and fancy talking the talk in your business.
But if your website says one thing but your processes say another, then you’re simply just a smoke and mirrors operation.
Here is a tip Optus:
Make it easy for my injustices to be heard.
In the meantime, I won’t give you my business, and I’ll tell a hundred people how difficult you are to deal with…
And your management would probably not even know which employee sent the letter to me…twice.
Whoever did your homework did not do their homework.
When they finally do, they’ll see that I have an exemplary credit record over a period of 39 years so far.
We’ve all heard the stories about never pre-judging a customer by the clothes they wear.
I can remember a disheveled older new patient walking into my Dental Office and enquiring about treatment, only to divulge later in the appointment that he had won ten million dollars in the lottery.
He subsequently restored his teeth with my office.
Had we pre-judged on circumstantial evidence and first appearances, he may have taken his business elsewhere.
One of the reasons this chap completed his treatment with me was because my Dental Office took the time to make him feel welcome and heard.
And everybody in the office was singing from the same hymnbook.
I don’t know who turned down my application for $120.00 per month of internet?
I hope they find him, and I hope he doesn’t make the same mistakes at his next job….
It is not being the world’s greatest occlusion expert….
It’s about making people, particularly your patients, feel special.
At the end of the day the thing that puts food on your table at night is not applause.
It’s money in the bank.
Money in the bank paid to you by valued clients who appreciate your work and your efforts and are happy to pay a fair price for your services.
And one of those services is NOT ceramic staining of occlusal grooves on inlays for upper second molars.
[And although I talk about money in the bank, I’m not just talking about making money and accumulating it. I’m also talking about the ability to do things of a benevolent and philanthropic nature with the money that you collect.]
And one of the benefits of running a profitable dental office is that you can grow the office and employ more people.
That benefits your community, doesn’t it?
You can also invest your money, and you can spend it locally in your community.
Or you can keep telling your mum what an expert you are at Rubber Dam….
I’ve yet to hear anyone tell me that a Rubber Dam course changed their life, but I do have had dentists write to me and tell me how my book has changed the way they practice their dentistry.
I have had dentists from across the globe contact me for further advice on how to implement Customer Service systems into their practice as the “missing link” in the way they practice their dentistry.
Because customer service is the “thing” that was never taught to them in dental school.
I have had dentists from across the globe seek me out when they were visiting my home town of Sydney to simply meet with me and chat with me over coffee, or dinner…
Or seek me out when I am travelling overseas…
And I’ve been more than happy to do that.
Because it’s all about them, not me.
It’s about making THEM feel special.
And making them feel important.
And that’s exactly what is needed in your dental practice with your patients.
Make THEM, the visitor, the patient, feel important.
It’s not about you and your line up of cerec machines.
It’s not about you and your certificates of memberships of the ABCD, the DEFG and the WXYZ.
Or whether you’re an admin on some social media secret group….
Those things are things to impress your mum.
What impresses your patient is how quickly you respond to their requests.
What impresses your patients is how well you listen, really listen to their requests and questions and concerns.
And the way that you answer them.
With sincerity and warmth.
And not with arrogance.
And not only you, doctor.
Your team members, all of them, need to also be singing from the same hymnbook.
Not just sometimes.
All of the time!
Customer service is a culture…
I’ve seen some of the most dexterous dentists I know fail dismally at building great practices because they were lousy at business and lousy with their customer service and their customer retention.
And yet I’ve seen some dentists not exceptionally gifted with their hands who were able to develop extraordinary followings of loyal patients because they did one thing really really well.
They made their patients feel as though they [the patient] was the most important person in the whole wide world for that entire moment of time that the patient was in their office.
They did not obsess at their own skills at rubber dam.
They did not espouse ad nauseum at the wonders of CADCAM technology to their patients.
They simply got onto the patients’ side of the ledger and did not stay on their own side wearing mirror sunglasses with reflectors on the inside.
It really is so simple.
Look at the world from the patients’ points of view and not from your point of view.
It is that simple.
So if you’re still working at your mate’s practice because you haven’t got what it takes to go out on your own, then change yourself….
Self-praise is no praise….
Begin praising your patients about how wonderful they are.
Have your team do exactly the same.
Always tell the patient how wonderful they are and what a pleasure it is to see them.
Tell them how wonderful they are as people.
And watch them keep coming back.
And watch them refer their friends and families to you because to them, you are the best dentist on this Earth….
Whether their opinions are valid is another matter.
Some of the most opinionated people I’ve heard of are simply “All Hat and No Cattle”.
They talk the talk but there is no walk to back up their talk.
I recently learned about a motivational speaker who talks on stress management who was seen backstage to be as nervous as heck just before going on stage in front of his audience.
I was horrified when I found out that one of the high-ranking administrating dentists at one Dental Corporate had never owned and run a successful dental practice.
There will always be smoke and mirrors.
Your duty is to always source through the smoke and mirrors.
I always wonder why in the investment world those who are successful investors need to teach others their methods [and earn income from their teaching] if their methods are so successful?
After all, why would they not just keep investing and doing what they’ve always been doing, if it is so profitable?
Especially if it’s intellectual business rather than physical business?
Where there is physical investment of either labour or time, then those are finite rather than infinite commodities.
I see the point of leveraging the intellectual property associated with those.
After all, you can only work so hard?
Or there are only a certain number of hours available in any day….
So why do some quit doing and then start teaching?
While others continue doing and also teach?
And others simply just mouth off, and never amount to anything except hot air?
Some of the people who came to my first dental seminars have gone on to achieve amazing results.
Some managed the information on their own. Others hired me to privately consult with them.
One dentist recently told me that after attending one of my workshops his collections are now fifty percent higher than they were two years ago…. now that’s a handy ROI [return on investment], isn’t it?
Another attendee saw her monthly collections improve 250% in less than two years once she started working with me.
Sadly, I heard this week that one attendee at one of my lectures is flying interstate to work three days per week in an insurance clinic, while still working [and not owning] part time in a private dental clinic the rest of the week…
What went wrong there?
They should be on a better wicket than that?
I guess, some people go into making decisions without making any real commitment.
They’re not willing to burn their boats…as the Romans did when they invaded Britain.
When you commit, when you truly commit, when you burn your boats, there is no going back.
Burning your boats ensures your progress.
Frederick B. Wilcox said:
“Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.”
It is very easy to sit in the grandstands and do nothing and just keep mouthing off.
When you have a list of goals you have the ability to tick them off and nobody can take those successes away from you.
There’s something to be said about climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and visiting the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, and St Paul’s Dome, and the Great Wall of China.
Not quite the same as looking at postcards?
Not quite the same as yelling at postcards either…
So what are you going to do this year?
Are you going to leap forward and make progress?
Or sit back, and wonder….
The help that you need to succeed is readily available.
What it does not do is it does not magically come to you.
As we begin 2017 it’s appropriate to look at the whole reason for wanting to engage in exemplary service in your business.
The reason is, because if you do not strive for greatness and for excellence, then you are accepting mediocrity and that’s not a very nice place to be coming from.
A friend of mine says that fifty percent of all dentists are below average.
And who wants to be known as being below average?
In fact, who wants to be known for being only average?
Customer Service expert Shep Hyken says:
“The customer service experience shouldn’t happen by accident. It should be planned.”
“The best companies design the customer service experience.”
A lot of small businesses, including dental practices, do not have a customer service system in place.
A lot of dental practices do not even have a detailed Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] manual in place for all of the routine procedures that go on in a Dental Office.
You have to wonder that if they don’t even have a written down policy guide for setting things up in their dental practice, then what the heck goes on whenever there is a hiccup in the customer service processes for that business?
Do they just wing it and hope that it somehow turns out OK?
Sadly, that seems to be the case in most instances.
And guess what happens?
The end result is never optimal.
Because the end result is achieved on the run.
Backpedalling, most of the time.
And that’s amateurish at best.
And more often than not it finishes in a poor result for both the practice and for the patient.
Because failing to plan is planning to fail.
So How Do We Fix This?
Obviously you need guidance.
You could buy a book?
Or you could attend a workshop, or listen to a CD?
And like learning piano I would say:
“If only the answer was simply that easy…”
Books and CDs and workshops will provide you with some ideas.
It is then up to you to implement those ideas and turn them into a system and then train and keep training your team until the necessary behaviours for your team members become a habit and a reality rather than a thought or a memory only.
But most of the time this never gets done.
And so the team stumbles onwards, blindly hoping to be doing “their best”, but really, “best” is pretty ordinary…
And so who then accepts second best?
Or is it ever even second?
Sometimes it’s second only by placing but not by achievement of level.
In customer service, often it’s daylight second and then a long way back to third.
And why should our valued clients, customers and friends be believing that this low level of customer service is anywhere near acceptable?
They do accept it because often it is taken as the “norm”.
And this is why being better than the norm allows your business to stand out as being exemplary in the world of customer service.
Because most of the time, nobody out there is doing anything at all….
And so being better than bad is seen as being good.
Well imagine how well received your business would be if you were indeed great or world class?
And not just occasionally…
Because you had systems and protocols that your team lived, ate and breathed each and every moment.
You see, it’s so much more than just one little thing.
It’s a culture.
There’s plenty of room at the top of the mountain for those willing to make the choice to climb the mountain.
But not many are willing to do what it takes to get there…