Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve been pre-judged?
Or worse, have you ever been the pre-judger?
When you are the pre-judger, all you want to do is remove your feet quickly from your mouth and run away as fast as you can, hoping that your poor victim suffers an instant momentary attack of amnesia that erases the image of your face and the memory of your poorly chosen words from their mind forever.
Yet you know that’s never going to happen.
Or you simply try to dig your way out of the hole that you just put yourself in, hoping that your customer throws you a lifeline rope of restitution for your ridiculously stupid comment?
And that rarely happens either.
Last Saturday my wife was invited to speak at an event in Sydney.
By coincidence, the Hyatt Hotel group had notified me that I had some reward points expiring, so I cashed in those points and booked a room for her to spend the night in town the Friday night before her presentation.
Now I had decided to not stay with her, but because of a poor weather forecast for the Saturday, I changed my plans and arranged to join her at the hotel after I had attended a previously organised engagement.
So picture this…..
Its 11:15pm Friday night…..I drive into the hotel driveway in my ten year old, but well kept, European RV, and the hotel attendant greets me with:
Now, maybe it was the fact that my German car did bear a sticker for my football team on the back window, and maybe because I was wearing a black hoodie and a hat….and maybe guests don’t arrive so late for a check-in there…
So I said:
“No. I’m joining my wife, who’s already checked in. And I’m valeting the car.”
Funny, I didn’t think that Uber drivers drove European RVs?
It reminded me of the time in my dental office one Monday morning when a very averagely dressed chap who did not have an appointment walked in and sat in my client lounge, and asked if we could see him.
Well, on this morning I did have time available around that time and so he waited a short while and I was able to see him.
He was wearing an old worn full upper denture and had most of his lower teeth, though they were discoloured and worn. Some were missing.
He asked what I could do for him.
Fast forward a few minutes further into the appointment and this man revealed that he had just won $10Million on OZ-Lotto.
And the reason that he was in my building was because his first thought was to have some hair replacement treatment at a well-known facility located on the floor below my office.
To cut a long story short, I ended up transforming this patient’s mouth with significant crown and bridgework.
Can you imagine how this story could have ended differently if anyone in my office had pre-judged this patient based on his looks and his attire?
You know, it’s impossible to see what’s inside a refrigerator without opening the door.
Nor can you guess what treasure lies beneath the wrapping paper of a well thought out gift.
In the same way, it’s important to NEVER EVER pre-judge a person in front of you.
How do we avoid prejudging?
We ask clarifying questions.
Sometimes more than one….
“Welcome to the Park Hyatt Sir. Are you checking in?”
“Welcome to the Park Hyatt Sir. Can I assist you with your luggage?”
The purpose of being in business is to create profit from that business to reward you for the efforts you have made in choosing to be in business.
And if you don’t make profits, then it seems pointless actually being in a business.
Why would you risk all of that capital you have invested in your business to simply lose money or break even?
Who sold you on that plan?
If the end result of you being in business is that you simply break even, then what’s the point of that?
You may as well sell your business and take the capital and invest it in stocks or property.
Why have all that money of yours tied up in a business that’s not making any money?
Are you awake?
Why are you not making a profit?
There can only be two reasons:
You are trying to work things out on your own.
You are wasting time.
You are wasting time.
The only difference between a profitable person and a less profitable person is the way they use and leverage their time.
Are you organised?
Is your day structured?
I’d guess that if you are struggling financially it is because you are not operating an organised and structured day.
And who’s fault is that?
We all have the same twenty-four hours.
Why do some people make more money than others for the same amount of invested time?
It’s because they organise themselves better.
They do the important and profitable tasks, and they delegate to others those tasks that are less profitable.
And in so doing, they then free up time to do some more of the more profitable tasks.
I see dentists filling in forms and writing referrals when other people in the office could be preparing those documents, while the dentist then goes and does other more profitable things.
[Usually what happens is that those *other people* are simply sitting and watching while the dentist performs those other menial duties…]
I see dentists doing their own cleans on patients rather than employing a hygienist?
And while he is doing those cleans, the dentist is turning away patients in pain and patients with restorative work to be done, purely because the dentist fails to see the forest for the trees…
Not very clever….
You are trying to work things out on your own
Unless you are trying to cure cancer you will find that for whatever you are trying to do, someone else has already done it and they are usually happy to provide you with advice.
This is called coaching, or mentoring.
The more you try to work something out on your own, the longer it will take and the more off course you are likely to travel in the meantime, meaning that the correction back to the better way will also take more time than if you had simply bitten the bullet and sought the original assistance early on.
And sometimes, when long periods of time are involved, bad habits and poor ways become entrenched and ingrained.
And are impossible to correct.
“That’s the way I’ve always done it….”
And that’s why you are where you are.
And not where you want to be.
And not where you should be….
Take a big mirror…
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself:
“Am I where I want to be?”
“Am I where I deserve to be?”
Where you are right now is totally due to your activity, or your lack of activity, and is totally independent of any form of entitlement you think you have.
Your education and your financial investment in your business only create a starting point for you to extend yourself as best you can from….
It is entirely up to you to capitalise on this starting point by managing your time and heeding good advice.
Clocks are cheap, and so is free advice.
Good advice, well that costs.
If good advice was free then everyone would be successful?
A lot of dental offices out there say that they are providing great customer service.
But who says so?
Is it simply the owners saying so?
What are the parameters being used to back up these claims?
A lot of businesses out there say that their customer service is world class because they have a philosophy of providing great service.
But philosophy means not much if the team ain’t doing what the boss wants them to do.
As Laurie Guest says:
“It doesn’t matter how good the baker is if the cashier spits on your cake.”
Everybody in the team needs to singing from the same hymn book.
So many times I see a dental office where the owners are saying one thing and the team are doing another thing, that is at odds to what the owner is saying.
I see the doc being great down the back, and yet the people up the front are pushing their weight around on the phone, and with the patients checking in and checking out.
Have you seen this sort of behaviour?
If that’s the case then the team members who are out of line need to change their behaviours to fit in with the company philosophies and visions.
Or the team needs to change the team members.
If they won’t change then write a letter to them introducing them to the local careers adviser at the nearest employment office.
There is no reason to retain rats on a ship that is sailing.
The rats serve no purpose.
Recently I received the following message from a friend of mine in the USA about her recent dental office experience:
“Been thinking of you lately, in regards to my very own dentist, his front desk personnel and their customer service. Today again I had to call there and allow the front desk girl to make me feel bad when I address my concerns or confusion on the plan of action towards my boys’ dental plan. Their client- doctor communication lacks as well. And the front desk doesn’t pick up the ball. Thought I’d share 🙂 Wish your practice was closer. Hope you’re well…..”
Frankly, if a client is confused there’s no reason to make them feel bad.
This is not a desired outcome for any business to client communication.
If confusion is created for the client at any point in their dental office experience, then it is the role of those out the front to resolve that confusion for the client.
And not to make them feel bad about being confused.
I’ll bet the dentist doesn’t even know that this sort of thing is going on out the front of his dental office.
Because nobody would give the front office person any authority to create this sort of feeling in their clients.
A disgruntled client that does not feel valued will tell at least eleven of their friends and family about how poorly they have been treated.
Is this a good outcome for the dental office?
I don’t think so.
Do you conduct exit interviews of patients leaving your dental office?
Or do you simply assume that everything is OK?
It might be worth looking at your deliverables….
Before it’s too late.
If your office doesn’t want to make each and every patient feel important and valued well that’s fine.
There’s another dentist a few doors down the street just waiting to be of service to your unhappy patients…..
“The Commission require and authorize you to inquire into the following matters:
(a) whether any conduct by financial services entities [including directors…employees…] might have amounted to misconduct and, if so, whether the question of criminal…proceedings should be referred to the relevant…agency…
(b) whether any conduct, practices, behaviour or business activities by financial services entities fall below community standards and expectations;
(c) whether the use by financial service entities of superannuation members’ retirement savings…. does not meet community standards and expectations and is otherwise not in the best interests of those members;
And so it goes on….
One of the admissions that came to light today was from the AMP society who admitted to keeping customers in high paying products when there existed less expensive products with better features and performances and benefits within the AMP umbrella of products.
And the AMP considered for a period of time that this was an acceptable thing to do.
My point is, that this behaviour from AMP was exactly the same behaviour that I was copping from Telstra with my phone and internet services, and that the people that I spoke to at Telstra considered this way [their way] of doing business to be totally acceptable.
As you know, the Telstra people I spoke to said it was not Telstra’s responsibility to make its customers aware of better plans that they were offering. Telstra said categorically that it was totally the customer’s responsibility to research and keep up to date on the plans being offered.
Despite the fact that in the past Telstra used to cold call its customers offering them these better plans.
What did I think?
I complained fiercely that their approach should have been far more transparent, and that when they developed a better product that they should have actively offered that product to their clients, rather than simply just letting their clients “discover” that a better, less expensive plan did in fact now exist!!
My point is that as of this Royal Commission, this failure to disclose is considered to be not OK in the banking and finance industry, then it certainly shouldn’t be OK in the telecommunications industry.
So what does this have to do with dentistry?
Well not too much actually.
You would hope, as I would hope, that the industry of dentistry is exempt and devoid of charlatans and thieves.
And to the greater part it is.
And this is simply because the face to face nature of doing business in dentistry is certainly a deterrent to the silent act of “clipping” that allows Telstra and AMP to skim from their clients.
Why not in dentistry?
Sure, there is price elasticity and price flexibility in dentistry.
But because dentistry is a SERVICE industry and not a business of providing a commodity then fees being charged are open to market forces and customer expectations.
This is why there exists a difference in price between a $200.00 per head lunch at Quay restaurant and a $5.95 Happy Meal lunch at McDonalds.
One would consider the price of lunch at Quay to be grossly over the top yet people are happy to dine there and keep dining there.
Yet in twenty four hours after dining at either restaurant the food is nothing but a distant memory.
Why is a Ferrari a $500M car and yet a Mazda can be picked up for under $20K?
Both will get you around town from A to B in a pretty much the same amount of time, but being seen in one will certainly turn a few more heads than being seen in the other….
What’s my point?
My point is that so long as you are ethical and that you believe that the fee that you charge is indeed reflective of the fine product you deliver and the exceptional service that you provide then you should indeed be being appropriately remunerated by your customer for those levels of quality.
In the cases of AMP, and of Telstra, they continued to charge higher fees for inferior products when within their own stables better products existed.
What they did was clearly fraudulent and was totally unethical.
What we need to remember as dentists is that offering the best treatment firstly is always in the best interest of the patient.
We need to diagnose everything as if dentistry is free, or as if the patient is a multi.
And then let the patient choose whether or not they want best.
Or whether or not they want to ask you for second best.
And sometimes second best is not what we do.
For me, I chose not to offer second best if it was clearly inferior.
What was the point if it was not going to last as long and was going to put the patient in a state of compromised health from that point onwards?
You can’t dine at Quay restaurant and order a $5.95 Happy Meal….
It’s not on the menu…
I’m sure they could whip up a burger.
But a $5.95 burger is not reflective of the BEST that they so well do…
An article came across my desk today that reminded me and reinforced to me the whole notion that a business’s success relies a great deal on the customer service skills of its employees.
In particular, it is the investment in training the employees that really drives home the returns of providing great customer service.
Sure, you can employ people who are inherently “nice”, but if you really want to hit home run after home run after home run then your business needs to be training and training and training your team members to do those right things at the right time each and every time without fail and without question.
Is this too difficult to ask?
Well apparently it is because if it was easy then every employee in every business would always be “following the script” and saying what needs to be said and doing what needs to be done in each and every interaction with the customers of those businesses.
But we know that this doesn’t happen each and every time.
In a report published in the USA in 2016, fast food giant Chick-Fil-A saw that the employees in their drive through facilities at their restaurants were the most likely to say “please” and “thank you” and to smile at their customers, compared to those at fourteen other chains.
In fact, this occurred 95.2% of the time at Chick-Fil-A compared to 78.4% of the time at McDonald’s restaurants, putting the Golden Arches at position fourteen out of fifteen chains reviewed.
“It’s all about speed and accuracy, but we know our customers appreciate that we can be nice while being fast and accurate,” Mark Moraitakis, senior director of hospitality and service design at Chick-Fil-A, said. He added, “Eye contact and smiling go a long way in the drive-thru experience.”
Chick-Fil-A say they invest more into Customer Service training for its employees than other companies do.
And I should know… in 2016 I had the honour of being a guest at their headquarters in Atlanta and seeing their training facilities first hand.
And the results speak for themselves….in 2015 the average Chick-Fil-A restaurant generated nearly USD$4M per restaurant, working on a six-day week!! [Chick-Fil-A restaurants are closed on Sundays].
Meanwhile in 2015 the average KFC store sold USD$1M….
What does this mean for Dentistry?
Firstly, you need to ask yourself whether you are investing sufficient time and capital in training your team members to be World Class in the Customer Service they deliver to your patients.
Are you coaching your team on a regular basis to hone and perfect their Customer Service interactions?
Secondly, here’s what else I gleaned from the visit…. each Chick-fil-A franchisee is only allowed to open one Chick-fil-A restaurant location.
What this means is improved training and more hands-on supervision of staff and their Customer Service interactions.
This fact should be a game breaker for single operator privately owned Dental Offices.
It will be the major reason why your customers will choose your office as opposed to choosing one of the chains or one of the Corporates for their dentistry.
Remember that 20-25% of all consumers out there are happy to pay a fair price for a good or a service if they feel that their service is exceptional value.
And the value comes from the service you provide.
And it is the little things your team does that make the big differences.
It is the “pleases” and the “thank-yous” to start with.