I have a U.S. dentist friend coming Down Under next month to visit Australia for the first time.
When he’s in Sydney he’s asked if we can have dinner, as well as a game of golf.
So I thought I’d entertain him at my own club. It will be Saturday afternoon, after the members’ competition.
I made the booking with Ben at the pro-shop, and when I did I was surprised at what was offered.
Because my friend won’t be bringing his golf clubs with him, Ben told me that when my guest arrives, they’ll try to match him up with some clubs that will be as close as possible to those he uses back home.
How good is that?
I just thought he’d be loaned any old set…. I guess that comes from being a left-handed golfer and getting used to a lifetime of “take what you’re given” because there’s not ever much good left-handed gear around for this type of match up.
It’s also from years of being given a plate of vegetables [often the main meal with the beef or chicken removed] as the pescatarian option at a business dinner function….
I have to say that I was “blown away” by Ben’s “we aim to please” approach.
Which reminds me….
Many years ago and many hairdressers ago, I used to visit a salon where every time that I came in for an appointment they would ask me:
“How do you take your coffee?”
I know it was a while ago because I don’t drink coffee any more [although I read today that two cups of coffee a day can extend your life].
My point is, that although I was a regular client of this salon, the salon had no system for recording little things about their customers, like the way the customer preferred their coffee.
Yet, downstairs from my dental office, at one time, there was a coffee shop manned by one of the best ever superstar sales people ever, Christina, who not only knew every client by name, but knew their coffee order without having to ask them or look it up.
Just like Norm gets served in Cheers the TV show.
“And how do you like your coffee?”
Do you ask this question of callers when they ring and schedule that first appointment in your dental office?
We used to…
It’s a great way of welcoming the new patient to your practice and by letting them know that your dental office is different.
What’s even more impressive, when the new patient arrives, and you’ve introduced yourself and welcomed them to your dental office and enquired about their well-being etc., is to say:
“And it was piccolo latte, wasn’t it?”
It’s not just about the coffee…
Your dental team’s attention to the detail, and the small comforts that will make the visit of each patient feel, for them, like a visit to the home of a dear friend, is what sets your dental practice apart from others that your patients could well be choosing.
But they don’t.
They come to your office because of the way that your team make them feel welcomed, comfortable, important, and understood.
Make sure that your team are always going the extra mile, and stretching to see how your dental office can indeed be truly different.
And remember, it’s not a one-off.
It’s not JUST about offering the patient a coffee.
Or when we can….
It’s about having the systems, the complete systems, and the culture, that in-grained culture of knowing and wanting to deliver that World Class Customer Experience to each and every customer each and every time.
Do you want a website that looks good or one that draw’s traffic?
Can’t it do both?
I don’t think so….
I recently looked at a template design for a webpage that had so many glaring errors in design functionality…. yet it looked good.
Do you remember that scene in the movie Heartburn where Jack Nicholson talks about the new kitchen being added onto his house? Trouble was, to enter the kitchen from the house you needed to leave the house and walk in through an outside door.
Nobody had thought to have an internal doorway from the room in the house into the kitchen!
Sometimes people have websites without connections. Or logic. Or reason.
I watch the superbowl ads and sometimes I wonder what is being advertised.
And yet these companies spend all that money on the advert and on the airtime. But forget the message. And the purpose.
What’s missing in most cases is these three things, eloquently put by advertising guru Leo Burnett:
“Here’s what I’ve got, here’s what it will do for you, and here’s how to get it.”
Burnett, one of the greatest ad men of the 20th century, said this is what advertising needs to say to people.
I say it’s what your website needs to say to people…
The latest trend appears to be to have left and right corridors of space on a website, yet the eyes naturally gravitate towards the top right for instruction and direction.
I guess it originates from reading old style snail-mail letters.
Name. Address. Phone. Email.
All on the top right corner of the letter….
So I think the top right of your website should say:
How to contact you.
What to contact you about [an offer]
With a button.
Social media buttons:
You spend all that money getting visitors toy your page, and the first thing you offer them is a button to click to your Facebook page?
They click it, see they have 5 Notifications on Facebook, and a friend request….
And poof. They are gone.
Do not put social media icons and links in prime places…. hide them at the bottom of your scrolled page.
If you have to.
They are a distraction.
They are not Boy Scout badges.
Or war medals.
They are one-way escape routes from your website….
Watch the fold:
Most websites have a continuous scroll.
I like it. It’s clean.
But here’s a tip:
Make sure that your next subject appears “above the fold”.
So many times I see the next item below the fold…. or I don’t see it because that’s where it is…
Your site visitor must see that there is an image poking up at the bottom of the page…tempting them to scroll…make this your priority…
Make sure that it is understood by the visitor to your webpage that there is something at the bottom that they need to scroll to…so make it glaringly obvious for them to do so…
If you are going to have a call to action on your page, have multiple buttons with the same call to action.
I would not have calls to multiple actions. I’d have multiple calls to the same action.
Make it clear that this is the next step for your viewer.
“Download your free report now!”
“Make an appointment now”
Use one bait to catch one type of fish now.
Don’t go fishing for multiple fish types at the one time.
And have your buttons lead to a landing page that captures their email and name on that page. Don’t try to capture this data with boxes on the home page. That’s a turn off.
Hopefully these tips can have your website looking like it has a purpose.
Otherwise, you have a website that is as effective as winking in the dark.
When you wink in the dark, you know what you are doing, but nobody else knows you are doing it….
I was surfing the web looking at dental websites recently and came across a picture of a front office area that horrified me.
What horrified me was the thought that in 2018 anyone would actually have an office that looked like this, and then it horrified me that the dentist actually believed that this picture of their outdated office would be a magnetic drawcard for new patients.
Let me tell you what I saw in this picture…
Firstly, the staff of the practice were not visible in this photo. The photo showed a window opening in a wall, and I’m assuming during general duties of the day the dental team are partitioned away from the general public behind this window opening in the wall. And the window opening was indeed that, an opening with a sliding glass window in the frame of the opening.
The window was positioned at about four to four and a half feet above floor level, so that patients [on the outside] would only ever be able to stand at this window.
And I’m imagining that on the office-side of the window there is a desk where staff can sit but not be seen by any people sitting in the waiting room.
The picture on the website was rather low resolution for some reason. Beside the window was the [mandatory] water cooler and beside that in the centre of the picture was a waste bin complete with overhanging plastic insert.
This attribute [of making trash cans centre stage in photos] is not exclusive to dental offices. You’d be surprised how often a waste bin pops up in a real estate magazine photo.
Would you rush out to make an appointment because of the picture I described?
I’m guessing not.
What if you had called for an appointment and this was your first vision of the inside of the dental practice when you arrived?
Would you keep on coming in, or would you back out the door and hope the security camera had not seen you?
Partitions, walls, and upstands do nothing to welcome new patients to your dental office.
And they do nothing to create “we” relationships between you and your patients.
In fact, they do the opposite.
They are barriers.
They are physical barriers that promote a separation mentality both in the patients’ minds and also in the minds of your dental team.
These sort of physical barriers, with or without the glass window, were initially invented for the olden days of dentistry to prevent departing patients from dribbling blood from their dental wounds across our dental office front desk.
Back in the days when you just wanted to usher that infection control nightmare out of your office with a trill:
“We’ll post you your bill…”
Nowadays things are a lot different.
The great dental offices have client lounge areas at the entrance where there is a sense of community.
And departing patients are able to spend time seated, across a table from the scheduling coordinator on a level and equal eye-to-eye basis.
Creating the correct environment promotes better connection, and with this increased connection more desired outcomes are created.
Take a look at your patient flow areas.
Are these areas presenting hurdles for your business and for your patients to negotiate unnecessarily?
I received an unexpected EXPRESS POST envelope in the mail this week.
It was addressed to me and the sender was marked as my being my favourite restaurant in Sydney, where I dine with my wife three times each year to celebrate her birthday, my birthday, and our wedding anniversary , which are conveniently spaced across the calendar.
It’s something we’ve been doing as regularly as night follows day.
So when I opened up the envelope I was surprised to find it contained a silver envelope, which is the restaurant’s signature paperwork. Inside this envelope I expected to find a copy of their menu, which we regularly receive on the day of dining.
To my surprise the envelope did contain a menu, successfully disguised as a gift voucher.
Who was the gift from?
I know we’ve been regular diners there for a very long time….
On close examination, the voucher was a gift organised by an American colleague and came totally out of left field.
It was a gesture of thanks to me for an action I took that I thought nothing of, because what I did was the right thing to do…
Let me tell you…
A few months ago a friend of mine in the US told me he was writing a new book and wanted to run the title of the book by me.
You see he was a little worried about the title he had chosen because the sub-title of the book he wanted to use contained the word “Ultimate”, a word which has been synonymous with me and my marketings, writings, and teachings for the past six years.
It is indeed a long stretch to think that anyone could think that they are entitled to claim worldwide exclusive use of one word in the language, so I felt honoured that he thought to be ask me for my permission.
I told my friend this, and I told him to go forth with my blessing.
I suggested to him that I could possibly pen an endorsement for the back dust cover of the book, if he so wanted?
To my surprise, my friend, who I have known for some seven or eight years, asked me whether I would write the foreword for this book.
I was honoured to be asked, and so that’s what I did for him.
It’s what friends do….
I was recently contacted by several friends in the USA to let me know that my IP and TM were being used in someone else’s marketing.
Sadly, this happens from time to time.
Low life gutter snakes will appear and will feel that it is their right to steal and copy and reproduce and repackage any or all content and IP developed by others, with brazen hide and gay abandon.
In this case, this serpent in particular, who has been around for a long time, has chosen to ignore my letters, phone calls and correspondences asking for an explanation.
If you’ve ever googled “enter a room without opening the door” an image of this little reptile comes up.
A colleague of mine in the US posted a rant this week on social media about someone whom he had mentored and who he had then invited into his inner sanctum only to have that person start to copy his business model and then also start approaching my colleague’s clients.
I understand my colleague’s feeling of betrayal.
I had a client who I helped for a significantly long time to grow their dental practice substantially. Within five months of ending our long-standing coach:client arrangement, my ex-client then launched their own dental coaching business, putting themselves up as a “self-made” success.
History [and google] will show that this ex-client was not much more than a frustrated and disillusioned nomadic generality before engaging my services. However, as a writer they are not, and their postings do include clear examples of cut and paste theft and plagiarism…
C’est la vie. Karma will have its day…
Out near my farm, I never feel sorry when I see the remains of a snake flattened on a roadway…
On a brighter note, I’m really looking forward to receiving the finished product when my friend in story number one gets that book published.
Last week I read a very long discussion on a chat forum that began with a dentist asking a question as to how to reduce “Cancellations and No-Shows” in his dental appointment schedule.
What ensued in this discussion was a distinct polarisation of viewpoints.
On the one side was the group suggesting that more appointments would be kept and less would be cancelled or conceded if the patients were made more aware of the urgency for their treatment and the consequences of delay.
On the other hand, there was a significant group of respondents who adamantly believed that patients cancelled appointments because they were not made aware of the dental office *Policy* and that if time was spent outlining and going over the policy or policies with each and every patient then these patients would certainly never consider missing an appointment.
Such policies that were suggested was to provide written copy of the *Cancellation Policy* to each patient, to have said copy on the practice website and to direct all patients to said page, and to even sit with the patient and read the policy to the patient, presumably until the patient cried for mercy.
Thank goodness there are dental practices out there offending their patients and driving them away by lecturing and scolding them in this manner.
Those actions of pre-scolding simply create a wave of dissatisfied patients looking for a dental office that will treat them with respect and courtesy.
I really could not believe what I was reading.
On top of this, these offices made it clear to each and every patient that they would be billed a “Cancellation Fee” if they ever failed to attend their appointment or rescheduled with insufficient notification in advance…
Here’s my take:
Every time that you find that you have a patient who does not want to go ahead with their next scheduled visit, and who cancels or no-shows, then take a look in the mirror.
Firstly, it is you who has failed to create sufficient urgency and concern in that patient for the state of their mouth, or specifically, their next tooth to be treated.
It’s your fault. You did not tell them enough for them to be motivated to take the necessary action.
Secondly, you and your office may have attracted the wrong patient.
It’s a fact. There are idiots out there who do not see reason.
If an idiot finds their way into your dental office and fails to possess even a skerrick of sense or reasoning, then simply send them on their way.
Don’t make them another appointment that they are most likely never going to attend.
Finally, don’t become reliant on automation to schedule and confirm appointments.
Use your voice. Not an SMS.
The cost of employing the right person to engage personally with your patients is insignificant compared to the cost of broken appointments that do not get filled, and usually block others being put into those times.
Punishing and threatening patients does not work.
People do business with people they like. Patients will keep appointments if they are made to feel valued and understood.