One of the things about business and successful business that I see both in dentistry and outside of dentistry is that successful businesses usually are successful because of laser focus by one or more people in that business.
Look at Branson and Virgin.
Jobs and Apple.
Simmons and KISS.
Walton and Wal-Mart.
Hsieh and Zappos.
The list goes on.
They each have a crystal clear vision of what the business does, and what the business can achieve and what each of them want the business to achieve.
There is no *let’s see how this goes…*…
There is no *Make Stuff Up As We Go Along…*
Only true laser focus.
Once they have a clear vision of what they want for the business and what they want from the business, then their next steps have been to find and assemble the right people to work in that business with them to help achieve that goal…and beyond.
Everyone on the team must be committed “to the cause”.
There can be no “wishing”.
There can be no “hoping”.
There can be no dissension.
There must only be loyalty.
The outcome for the business must be based upon customer satisfaction.
How can we please our customers?
How can we BEST please our customers?
How can we BEST please our customers so that they return more often, and buy more of our products, and refer more of their friends and family to also become customers of ours?
How do we turn our customers into advocates and raving fans?
What do we need to do for each customer for this transformation of each of them to take place?
And then what do we need to do for each of our customers to ensure they stay as loyal raving fans?
Once we have these clear outcomes and visions tattooed and embedded into the brains of everyone within the organisation it is then that we have the ability to truly grow the business.
And grow it exponentially.
When everyone in the organisation has that vision, when they are all singing from the same hymnbook and pulling in the same direction, it is then that our business truly transforms into greatness.
It is the leader, the business owner usually, who has to lead his team towards the greatest outcome.
He needs to lead by example.
A strong leader with a clear vision inspires his team to follow.
A weak ineffective leader frustrates and disappoints his team.
I’m just back this morning from a ten-day trip to Scandinavia, where I was invited to speak and present a two-hour keynote to the annual Danish Dental Association convention in Copenhagen.
Coincidentally, and probably by fate, the rock band KISS began the European leg of their World Tour the following week, and so I was able to get to see them in concert in Helsinki by extending my visit an extra few days.
I also visited Stockholm Sweden, where my wife and I enjoyed the sights and the history.
Here are three of my most memorable customer service experiences from this trip:
Firstly, the Danish Dental Association were fabulous hosts. On our first night in Copenhagen we dined with our organiser and his wife [both dentists] at one of the city’s finest restaurants. Our night seemed to pass by so quickly, though when we checked our watches we had been dining and chatting and sharing stories for well over five hours!
The lesson here was that the four of us were all very likeable people, and although we had never spoken to each other, except via email, it was easy to connect and enjoy each others company purely by being truly interested in the stories and adventures that we all shared.
Throughout the rest of our stay, and even following my keynote on the fourth day, our hosts were always attentive to our well being and in making sure that we were very well looked after at their function as well as in our lodgings.
Our visit to Copenhagen will always be extremely memorable because of the way that our hosts welcomed us to their town and to their event.
Secondly, while in Stockholm, my wife and I dined twice at one particular restaurant purely because of the excellent service that we received.
On our first night at dining at Sturehof, we turned up early on spec, because our hotel had advised us that the restaurant booking was for 10:00pm, but that they might be able to seat us sooner. So we arrived at 8:10pm and were told that our wait would be about ninety minutes, if we’d like to enjoy a drink in the bar area.
Well, our table became available in forty-five minutes. So the restaurant was able to exceed our expectations with this simple act of “under promise and over deliver”.
Secondly, our waitress on the first night, Sarah, made us feel very at home with just the right amount of conversation throughout our dinner.
In fact, she was very interested in how our meals were, especially as we had asked her for her personal recommendations.
And when one dish came through over-cooked, Sarah simply had the price for that dish zeroed off our bill. Although this was not our intention, it was a gesture that was greatly appreciated. This was an excellent example of a Zero Risk philosophy operating in this business.
Our dining experience on the second evening was just as great.
The service was exceptional, although not Sarah this time. And the restaurant was able to relocate us at our request to a better table when cigarette smoke from outside wafted in through a doorway and irritated our eyes early on in the evening.
Thirdly, in Helsinki, my wife and I attended a concert by rock band KISS, as they began their World Tour 2017.
We had Meet and Greet tickets, which allowed us to attend a pre-concert intimate performance by the band [unmasked], followed by an autograph signing [also unmasked], and then later, a photo opportunity with the band in full costume and paint [them, not us], just before they go on stage in the main arena.
One of my friends recently commented that he has attended many concerts from many artists on a Meet and Greet ticket, and that the KISS Meet and Greet Experience is still the *Gold Standard* that others must be judged against.
And this Experience last week was no exception. Here’s what happened:
Paul Stanley stopped and chatted with us about Australia during the autograph signing, asking where in Australia we lived.
Tommy Thayer chatted with us about golf, having spotted a golf logo on the shirt I was wearing, while Eric Singer admired my wife’s watch and also spoke with us about drum kits for our son.
And when Gene found out that we were Australian, he discussed international variances in language such as the terms “witches hats” and “fairy floss”. Gene also shared some photos on his phone with Jayne.
Some three hours later, in the photo session, which is a real precision timing event, Paul remembered us from the earlier afternoon events and greeted us with a cordial
as we posed briefly with them for the money-shot photos.
Everybody loves recognition.
It’s easy to be exceptional at Customer Service, if you put your mind to it, recognise your customers for who they are, and make them feel important.
All three of these examples fulfil that standard.
But these examples just didn’t happen by accident.
It is attention to detail, and attention to excellence, that allowed each of these organisations to stand head and shoulders above their competitors, when it comes to looking after their guests.
What are you doing, consistently, in your business, that affords you the title of “Excellence in Customer Service”?
Are you simply “hoping” that things go right for you and your customers?
Or do you have simple to implement, easily duplicatable customer service systems operating in your business?
There has to be a point where seeking lowest price for a good or a service gives a less than optimal result.
“Isn’t the lowest price always the best result?” I hear you ask.
Sure, financially, if you can screw the merchant or the vendor down a few dollars then you can end up walking away from the transaction feeling the victor, but what have you really achieved?
Indeed, there are some vendors who set their prices with “wiggle room” so that they are able to play the “Best Price?” game.
And so every penny and every dollar for those vendors in that “wiggle room” is really cream, or a bonus, and if they surrender those wiggle dollars to secure the sale they have still achieved a win by making the sale.
But, if most vendors set their prices not to be wiggled, then are we as purchasers not thieving from our vendors by demanding a lower price?
The money that you supposedly save, that the vendor concedes to you the purchaser to secure the sale, has to be surrendered from some future transaction for that vendor, or made up for from another customer purchasing in the future [and on top of!!].
I recently had a short online discussion with a friend who mentioned that he now purchases all commodities online so as to secure best price.
His logic was that with delivery prices being next to non-existent, he is able to locate and purchase commodities quickly, and without the personal expense of fuel and parking.
Now that may certainly be the case, but what are the consequences of such a philosophy?
Really, is life that short or that tough that we need to be saving a dollar here and fifty cents there? What will we buy with all those pennies that we save this way?
His example was that he even purchased golf balls online.
Well down here we’ve seen the demise of the privately owned golf pro shop at many private golf clubs, with the golf club now employing golf professionals and managing the previously independently owned golf pro shop store themselves.
Is the service any better?
I can tell you that categorically it is not, but given time, golfers will forget the “old ways” that things used to be done.
Are golf balls cheaper online?
Of course they are.
But for the sake of a dollar or two savings per golf ball, we now have lost our old friend and comrade the club golf pro, who we have been doing business with for years and years and years.
How about your local butcher?
If you have to travel to your local butcher for the best cuts of meat, then isn’t it also sensible to purchase your vegetables and fruit fresh from a greengrocer next door where you can see the fresh produce first hand?
Rather than wrapped in plastic off a supermarket shelf?
Or by clicking a tab online?
The way I see it, the proliferation of the online retailer, the Amazons and others of the world, has seen the demise of the local store where we’ve had a relationship for years with the owner of that store.
I still yearn for those memories of the good old days of accompanying my mother shopping as we visited Mr. Olsen at the newsagency, and Mr. Horwood’s butchery, as well as Vic Bomaderry’s fruit shop.
Where are they now?
My mother even changed butcher shops when she found out one day that one of her favourite butchers had moved to another butchers’ shop in a nearby suburb.
And who can ever forget the great service we received from Merle at the fruit shop?
And I’m forever grateful to Jamie Saba and his family who bought Mr. Olson’s paper shop and then later employed me to work there on weekends while I was still at studying at high school.
You see, sometimes it’s more than about the dollars.
It’s the relationships.
Is this relevant to dentistry?
In this day and age of corporatisation and depersonalization of dental services, the discerning consumer will still seek out the dental office where good old-fashioned service is worth paying for.
“You get what you pay for” is a cliché but also a truism in this instance.
It has been shown that twenty five percent of the population are happy to pay for a service whatever the price without even wondering what the competitors charge to do a similar job.
If you can focus your business and cater to that twenty five percent of the population more than the remainder, and deliver on your promise of great service then you will build yourself a very healthy business with sufficient customers to pay you what you are truly worth.
Last week I wrote about Service Recovery processes in your Dental Practice.
On top of having exemplary Service Recovery procedures and systems, the truly World Class Dental Practices also work on a philosophy of Zero Risk.
Zero Risk is a physical state that we strive for and must achieve with all of our Service Recoveries in our Dental Office.
Does your Dental Practice follow the “Zero Risk” philosophy?
Put simply, “Zero Risk” addresses an intimidating array of issues that have the potential to produce unhappy customers, yet those issues may not always be the fault of our Dental Office.
It makes sense then that having a Zero Risk philosophy in your Dental Office is essential in order to create those WOW! Experiences for your patients that result in them become customers for life.
What does Zero Risk look like in a Dental Office?
What does it look like to your patients?
As a patient of an Ultimate Patient Experience Dental Practice offering World Class Service, our clients and customers and patients have a sense of security when they deal with us that should ever any little thing not go to plan, that we, as their Dentist, will make it right, regardless.
Thus, our Dental Office is Zero Risk to deal with.
Zero Risk for your Dental Office is having all your team members fully aware of the potential common service defects that can arise at any stage in the Patient Cycles and visits to your Office, and having the team trained and empowered to provide seamless World Class Service Recovery if and when any defects do arise.
Without ever apportioning any blame towards the patient or a third party supplier or vendor.
I’ve told the story before about when I was in practice and the time that I was called to my front office when a new patient, who I had just finished treating, was questioning the fee for the treatment he had just received at his first visit with me.
This patient said to me, when I arrived at the reception office, that he had not been told about how much his treatment was going to be, and as such had been surprised by my actual fee.
As the treating dentist, I had assumed that he had been given costing options and fee estimates when he had made his appointment over the phone, as this was our regular process.
And I’m not sure whether this patient was chancing his luck or whether indeed he had not been informed, but what I had to do then and there was to initiate the Zero Risk protocols as quickly and efficiently as possible.
And so here is what I said to him:
“I apologise. Normally every patient that I treat has been given an idea about what our fees will be, and it appears that in your case our process has let you down.
“So here’s what I’d like to do for you.
“I’d like you to pay me whatever you believe my treatment for today is worth….
“AND PAYING ME NOTHING IS OK…..”
The patient was surprised.
This is because the patient was looking for an argument…
And so I repeated to him exactly what I had just said:
“I apologise. It appears that our processes have let you down.
“Pay me whatever you believe my treatment today is worth.
“AND PAYING ME NOTHING IS OK…..”
And I left it with my receptionist.
It may not be our fault, but because it is our patient, it is our problem, and fixing that problem seamlessly for our patient without seeking to apportion any blame is our responsibility as a World Class business.
And so your Dental Office will become known as a business where there indeed exists a Zero Risk to do business with you…
And that’s a very very nice way to be.
And it’s a very nice way to be known and spoken about in your community.