Today I’m going to discuss the best way that I found to complete the regular patient’s hygiene appointment so that the patient schedules and keeps their next appointment, AND is also eager to bring that appointment forward should a vacancy arise.
This article is Part VI and is the final part, or piece, of a weekly series of articles that explains IN DETAIL the hygiene process that I used to transform the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient away from being considered to be “it’s only a clean”, and to be ANULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Five weeks ago I began by reviewing the important role that a dental hygienist plays in the creation of an EXPERIENCE for their patient so that the hygiene visit for your regular loyal dental patient is not simply “just a cleaning”, including the important role of the hygienist in creating a perfect platform at the start of the patient’s hygiene appointment, truly “setting the stage” for the remainder of the visit to be a World Class Experience.
Then four weeks ago I wrote about the level of trust that gets established between the hygienist and the patient during the first forty minutes of the hygiene appointment, and how with that, the subsequent time taken by the dentist to do the examination and explain treatment inside the hygiene room is significantly reduced compared to when the hygienist takes no part in any uncovering and discovery of areas of concern prior to the arrival of the dentist.
Three weeks ago I reviewed the best way for the dentist to be alerted about the hygiene exam, and how to turn that notification into a systematic, structured and discrete internal advertisement for your dental practice and your world class customer service systems.
Two weeks ago I wrote in detail about what exactly we did at the examination process for the dental hygiene patient who visited our dental office for their regular hygiene appointment, and how we transformed that process into an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Last week I wrote about the handover process between the dentist and the hygienist that occurs in the hygiene room following the dentist’s examination for the loyal regular dental hygiene patient.
Today we’re going to cover BUILDING BLOCK #5 of The Ultimate Patient Experience for the dental hygiene patient: The Ultimate Post-Appointment stage of the hygiene patient’s visit.
Following on from the Handover from the Dentist to the Hygienist.
After the dentist has completed the handover of the patient back to the dental hygienist, he then departs from the treatment room.
The patient is now left in the care of the hygienist, whose role it is now is to make sure that the patient’s “CLEAR. NEXT. STEP.” remains front of mind for them.
It is important firstly, that the hygienist clarifies with the patient exactly what they are going to have done at their next visit, and the scheduling of that next visit is what they are going to now do.
This could be as simple as saying:
“Ok then Betty. Let’s go on up the front and see Jayne and see when we can get that next visit with Dr Moffet scheduled for you.”
The hygienist could also add:
“We don’t want to let that crack get any bigger now, do we?”
to reinforce the dentist’s handover point about what will happen if we do not do the treatment NEEDED in the time frame recommended.
The hygienist then assists the patient with their appearance so that they can present their “best face” to the outside world, and also helps the patient gather up any bags, or goods, or coats or umbrellas they may have brought in with them.
Just as in the pre-appointment stage of this visit, there is a protocol for walking with the patient from the treatment room back to the front office area.
This protocol is designed to keep the patient’s next dental visit required in that FRONT OF MIND location, so that when the patient then sits down with Jayne out the front this next visit is the first thing that is organised, before any social discussions are raised.
The Front Office Handover.
The handover of the hygiene patient to the front office person by the hygienist will follow the same ten steps that all Ultimate Handovers follow.
The hygienist brings the patient into the appointment scheduler’s office and motions for Betty to sit across the desk from Jayne.
The hygienist, Emily, then stands on the same side of the desk that Betty is sitting, and then begins to speak to Jayne.
This purposeful positioning allows Jayne to alternate her attentive look [as it is needed] between the eyes of Emily and the eyes of Betty.
Emily is NOT positioned on the same side of the desk as Jayne, as this creates an intimidating two-on-one positioning that must be avoided.
Emily will include Betty in the conversation with Jayne.
So Emily would say something like this:
“Hi Jayne. Today Betty had her regular hygiene visit and I’ve already scheduled her next visit with me. Dr Moffet has done the examination today for Betty, and there are a few things that need to be done, which I have listed here for you. The first thing Betty needs doing is the upper right first molar, which has a big crack in it, and Dr Moffet wants to see Betty next week so as we can put a crown on that tooth to protect it from the crack spreading. Dr Moffet also asked that if there’s a change to our schedule, he’d like to see Betty sooner.”
During this whole conversation, Jayne is looking across to Betty at the appropriate times to receive a nod of acknowledgement from Betty about each point that Emily is saying.
Jayne is looking for understanding from Betty that she knows what treatment she is going to be having next, and when it needs to be done, and what will happen if it is not done in the time frame recommended.
Emily is also relating to Jayne that Betty wants to be called and have her appointment brought forward if there is a change in Dr Moffet’s schedule.
Once this restorative information has been conveyed to Jayne, Emily then farewells Betty by thanking her for coming in today, and thanking her for being such a great patient, and wishing her well.
Emily also mentions some future moment [of Secret Service] coming up for Betty, and if she has opportunity, Emily creates an Above and Beyond experience for Betty as well.
When Emily then leaves Jayne’s office, Jayne then goes ahead and schedules the next appointment with Betty.
After the scheduling, Jayne then processes Betty’s payment for today’s visit and then Jayne and Betty relax and visit about what’s going on in Betty’s life at the moment.
This “social visit” with Betty at the end of her visit can be as long as it needs to be.
Finally, Betty is farewelled by Jayne with the same five social steps of the Ultimate Handover [that are all about Betty].
She knows exactly when she will be returning, and she knows what treatment she will be having.
More importantly, she’s looking forward to seeing Jayne and Emily again, and she’s hoping to receive a call from Jayne to bring that next visit forward.
Betty truly has been the recipient of World Class Service and attention during her regular hygiene visit.
It has indeed been an Ultimate Patient Experience.
It only takes one bad egg to put you off your omelette.
It only takes one bad prawn to put you off eating seafood.
But often there is more than one bad egg, or one bad prawn…
It’s the same in business. There will sometimes be bad eggs in business that can drag down the reputation of an industry.
And yet, there are some businesses that seem to just brush off adversity, as they go from bushfire to bushfire, from disaster to disaster.
How do these businesses survive?
How do industries of catastrophe keep going?
Are these industries so essential that they can carry on regardless of bad publicity?
What is it that makes the public forget some BAD NEWS over the course of time?
And yet other bad news becomes indelibly printed into the memories of all and sundry?
Will Trevor Chappell ever live down the notoriety of being the “underarm bowler”?
And what about Dr Walter Palmer DDS, the LION KILLING DENTIST?
What’s my point?
Your office, your business, your lifestyle all need to be reflective of the values of your world and your community.
You need to walk the walk and talk the talk.
It’s much easier to live a noble life.
You can’t ever be:
“DO AS I SAY, NOT DO AS I DO…”
Down here, Down Under, there’s a Royal Commission into some pretty horrendous behaviours by member organisations of the banking community.
Big member organisations.
And the fact is, that behaviours involving the ongoing billing of the bank accounts of dead people for insurance policies and the continued ongoing charging of people for services never provided are both pretty low acts.
And these are not one off behaviours.
More often than not, the first misdemeanours discovered by investigation are often the tip of some pretty offensive iceberg of behaviours.
I’m a firm believer in the fact that just like icebergs, there’s a lot going on below the surfaces and behind the scenes in a lot of places that we can’t see and are often horrified to find out about.
Sometimes the trails leading to the discovery of these behavioural patterns form a torrent leading investigators toward some fairly unsavory practices.
“GO DEEP” I say.
Leave no stone unturned.
Flush out the pathology.
Don’t dismiss findings as a once off…. there is often much much more….
Today I’m going to review the handover process that occurs in the hygiene room following the dentist’s examination for the dental hygiene patient who visits your dental office for their regular hygiene appointment.
This article is Part V of a weekly series of articles that explains the hygiene process that I used IN DETAIL to transform the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient away from being considered to be “it’s only a clean”.
This regularly scheduled visit must ALWAYS be an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Four weeks ago I discussed the important role that a dental hygienist plays in the creation of an EXPERIENCE for their patient so that the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient is not simply “just a cleaning”.
In that article I wrote about the important role that the dental hygienist plays at the beginning of every patient’s hygiene appointment. I discussed the important role of Emily the hygienist in creating a perfect platform at the start of the patient’s hygiene appointment, truly “setting the stage” for the remainder of the visit to be a World Class Experience.
Then three weeks ago I wrote about the level of trust that gets established between the hygienist and the patient during the first forty minutes of the hygiene appointment, and how with that, the time taken by the dentist to do the examination and explain treatment inside the hygiene room is significantly less than when the hygienist takes no part in any uncovering and discovery of areas of concern prior to the arrival of the dentist.
Two weeks ago I wrote about the best way for the dentist to be alerted about the hygiene exam, and how to turn that notification into a systematic, structured and discrete internal advertisement for your dental practice and your world class customer service systems.
Last week I took a look in detail at the examination process for the dental hygiene patient who visits your dental office for their regular hygiene appointment, transforming that process into an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
The Dental Hygiene Room Handover
Following the completion of the dental examination, the dentist must now HAND OVER the hygiene patient back to the dental hygienist and then depart from the hygiene room and return to his restorative patient.
This process needs to be systematized and choreographed correctly to have maximum positive effect on the hygiene patient so that they move forward with their next visit with certainty.
This is regardless of whether that next visit is for restorative dentistry or for another hygiene visit.
The purpose of the handover is to create a result of clarity for the patient as to what their next step must be.
A poor handover creates confusion and uncertainty within the mind of the patient.
A perfect handover has the patient enthused and excited about their next visit.
Here’s what needs to happen:
At the completion of examination the Dentist initiates the return of the dental chair to the vertical and he rises to come and stand in front of the Patient as they re-orientate themselves after having been reclined.
It’s at this point that the Doctor then clearly hands the patient back over to the Dental Hygienist in readiness for the patient’s transfer from the Hygiene Room to the Front Office.
It is important and imperative that at this stage the Dentist informs the patient, and the Dental Hygienist, the following key pieces of information.
It is also imperative that both the patient and the Dental Hygienist truly grasp and understand fully the Dentist’s clear and thorough instructions and explanations.
Here are the five things that the Dentist must tell the patient when he hands over the patient to the Dental Hygienist at the completion of their dental hygiene examination.
Exactly what the dentist did today.The dentist must let the patient know that the examination is now complete.
The Big Picture.The Dentist needs to let the patient know the result of the examination. Not so much a blow by blow, tooth by tooth, and surface by surface description of what is wrong and what needs to be done. I always found that ball park numbers were appropriate at this time.
Exactly what treatment the Patient will be having at their next visit to the Dental Office.It is the dentist’s responsibility to let the patient and the hygienist know exactly what treatmentthe patient will be having at their next visit to the dental office.
The time frame or urgency of the remaining treatment required.It is the Dentist’s duty to inform the Patient when exactly he next wants to see the patient.The Dentist’s role here is to create urgency for the treatment as opposed to creating a *Lack of Urgency* in the Patient’s mind. Creating urgency assists the Dental Hygienist and the Front Office team members in securing the next appointment for the Patient.
Exactly what will happen if the next treatment is not carried out.The Dentist must inform the patient of the consequences if treatment is not carried out. The patient must understand that taking action is imperative for them.
Along with this, the Dentist must ensure that both the patient and the Dental Hygienist have a clear understanding of exactly what he has just said.
The Dentist needs to also:
Look the patient in the eye, and thank them sincerely for their time.
Compliment the patient on being such a great patient for you today.Everybody loves recognition.
Farewell the patient with sincere wishes of best wishes and good health.
Recognise or re-recognise any significant event coming up for the patient that will occur before their next visit.This may be something that the patient has discussed with the Dentist already. Or it may be some information the patient has shared with the hygienist or with another team member that has been acquired by the Dentist via Secret Service Systems [information passed to the Dentist with the specific purpose of creating a *WOW* factor for the patient].
Look to create any Above and Beyond Experiences for the patient.If the patient has mentioned something personal, the Dentist may have an opportunity to provide an article or small gift that may be appropriate in that situation.
These last five points are extremely important and crucial in differentiating your dentist and your Dental Office as being truly different from every other Dental Practice around because no other Office around is taking the time to treat every patient as a friend, or as a person and not just as a number or an item on a conveyor belt.
Because most dentists don’t do this!
Most dental offices have the dentist come in to do the examination when it suits the dentist, and subsequently there is no handover.
I’ve even seen dental offices where the hygienist has moved on to their next patient and the dentist walks in to do the examination cold, on a lukewarm patient.
[What could possibly go wrong there?]
When you systematise and choreograph the hygiene visit in the way I have outlined, you will see a dramatic increase in the number of patients booking AND KEEPING their next appointments.
It’s all about creating clarity for the patient.
CLEAR. NEXT. STEP.
Patients who are clear on what needs to be done will make and keep appointments.
patients who are unclear will make fewer appointments and cancel them more often.
Next week we will close off this series of articles when I discuss the Ultimate Post-Appointment Process for the departing hygiene patient and how it acts to reinforce the hygiene visit as a truly World Class Customer Service Experience.
One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was from a medical doctor who told me:
“The Purpose of an Appointment is to Make Another Appointment.”
This statement is profoundly correct.
If you want to stay in business you either need lots of new business or you need to create repeat business.
And if you want to create repeat business you need to create a compelling reason for that customer to re-engage with you and your business.
The hedge trimmer.
Have you ever marveled at those perfectly shaped and manicured English-styled Leightons Green hedges, and how well maintained they look?
The reason for that is because of the regularity with which those hedges are trimmed.
These hedges are trimmed regularly and routinely. They are not allowed to grow wild and out of control. If they grow out of control without regular tip pruning, then any subsequent pruning will result in a woody appearance.
Putting it simply, to maintain their excellent appearance, they need to have regularly scheduled attention.
They do not look nearly as good if they are allowed to grow to an “out of hand” condition and are then stripped back to a woody framework.
The hedge trimmer who has a bevy of regular clients who he services on a pre-arranged systematic basis will always have a more successful business to own, and keep, or sell, than the hedge trimmer who only provides services to clients who call when those clients feel like it is time for a visit.
Do you see the difference?
The business that gives its customers a reason for additional or continuous business will always be more secure and more successful than a business that does not and sits there and waits for the phone to ring.
The Medical Doctor.
The medical doctor who asks patients to return to review their condition and re-evaluate their health will be twice as busy as the medico who farewells his patients with a simple:
“Call me if that hasn’t resolved and is still bothering you…”
Are the medical patients receiving better care because of the follow on appointment being scheduled?
You bet they are, that’s for sure.
But its more than just the extra appointment…..
It’s really about your business showing that it cares about the wellbeing of its customers.
It’s about building relationship with your customers.
The more times you see your customers, the more times you have an opportunity to add to your relationship with them.
The more you see them, the more they will get to know you and like you and like what you do for them.
The less often you see your customers the more opportunity you give them to forget you and forget who you are and forget what a great job you do for them.
If you don’t value your customers they will leave you.
Give them time. Give them service. Anticipate their needs. Alert them to those things that have them valuing what you do for them.
The more times you see your customers the more opportunities you have to make them feel welcome, comfortable, important, and understood.
Don’t ever take time spent for granted.
Time spent with customers is a valuable investment.
Today it’s time to look at the examination process for the dental hygiene patient who visits your dental office for their regular hygiene appointment.
This article is Part IV of a weekly series of articles that explains the hygiene process that I used IN DETAIL to transform the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient away from being considered to be “just another cleaning”.
This regularly scheduled visit truly can be an ULTIMATE PATIENT EXPERIENCE each and every time.
Three weeks ago I discussed the important role that a dental hygienist plays in the creation of an EXPERIENCE for their patient so that the hygiene visit for the regular loyal dental patient is not simply “only a clean”.
In that article we discussed the important role that the dental hygienist plays at the beginning of every patient’s hygiene appointment. We looked at the important role of Emily the hygienist in creating a perfect platform at the start of Mrs Smith’s hygiene appointment, truly “setting the stage” for the remainder of the visit to be a World Class Experience.
Then two weeks ago I discussed the level of trust established between the hygienist and the patient already during the first forty minutes of the hygiene appointment, and how with that, the time taken by the dentist to do the examination and explain treatment inside the hygiene room was significantly less than when the hygienist took no part in any uncovering and discovery of areas of concern prior to the arrival of the dentist.
Last week I wrote about the best way for the dentist to be alerted about the hygiene exam, and how to turn that notification into a systematic, structured and discrete internal advertisement for your dental practice and your world class customer service systems.
The Dental Examination.
The dentist arrives into the hygiene room.
The purpose of the dentist’s visit to the hygiene room is to examine the patient and review the findings of the hygienist, as well as to discuss all areas of concern that the patient may have raised.
When the dentist arrives in the room, it is always at the designated time that the practice has predetermined, and it is always AFTER the time that the hygienist has gone to notify the dentist that he is now required.
The dentist DOES NOT EVER arrive unannounced.
The visit of the patient for their regular hygiene appointment is structured to provide MAXIMUM experience for the patient.
The appointment chronology is organised so that the hygiene patient never feels as though they are an appendage to the dentist’s day.
The regular hygiene patient must always be made to feel as though they are the ONLY appointment that matters on that day.
So here’s what happens:
The dentist enters the room and is greeted by the hygienist and his arrival is announced to the patient.
The dentist thanks the hygienist, and greets the patient.
The hygienist then updates the dentist about any social topic that she has been discussing with the patient. This could include any recent travel, any family events, or any work related stories that they have been discussing.
The dentist then joins into that social conversation with the patient, as the hygienist [aurally] removes herself from that conversation.
At the appropriate time, the dentist decides that it is time to perform the patient’s dental examination.
As the dentist assumes the examination position and adjusts the chair, he asks the hygienist:
“So Emily, are there any areas that you would like me to look at?”
The hygienist then replies:
“Dr Moffet, I’d like you to take a look at [this area]”,
and then goes into detail about her findings and observations.
During this process of discussing this first area of concern, the hygienist will also present to the dentist any relevant images and radiographs that she has taken.
The hygienist also lets the dentist know of any treatment options that she has discussed with the patient.
These initial area[s] that the hygienist raises with the dentist are major areas of concern discovered by the hygienist, along with any areas that the patient has raised already with the hygienist.
It is important that the patient feels that these areas of concern are being conveyed to the dentist BEFORE the dentist begins the regular dental examination process, as opposed to being raised DURING the examination itself.
By doing this, the dentist and the hygienist HEIGHTEN the urgency and relevance of these primary areas.
Once these areas have all been discussed and treatment planned, the dentist and the hygienist then continue with the examination process.
In my office, this process involved the hygienist describing EACH individual tooth and its condition, one at a time, beginning with the Upper Right Third Molar and finishing with the Lower Right Third Molar.
Each tooth is mentioned as to its presence, its restorative status, and whether there is any pathology [or perceived pathology] present that the dentist needs to review.
By doing the examination in this way the importance of the hygienist in the process is raised and elevated in the patient’s eyes.
The patient now sees the hygienist now as an important pre-diagnostician, and not simply as “the girl who cleans my teeth.”
When done correctly, this examination process can be an efficient time saver for the dentist because his examination then becomes a matter of “review” as opposed to “discovery”.
The dentist’s role is to review all of the findings of the hygienist and to finalise the correct treatment path for the patient.
Following the completion of the oral examination by the dentist, the hygienist then clarifies with the dentist which area exactly the dentist is going to start treating first, and the time frame is clarified as to when exactly as well.
The dentist explains to the patient what is being done next, and when, and whether he wants the patient to be seen sooner, should anything become available.
The dentist also informs the patient exactly what will happen if this first treatment is delayed and not carried out in the recommended time frame.
Next week I’ll be discussing the farewelling of the patient by the dentist, and the subsequent completion of the hygiene appointment process by the hygienist and the front of office team members.
Remember, that during all of this process, the patient is always feeling care and attention from the dental hygienist, the dentist, and the whole office team.
The regular hygiene patient must always be made to feel that they are the MOST important client of the day.
Recently a good friend of mine decided upon a change in career.
It was a big decision.
Having previously carved out significant careers in hospitality and also in food technology and sports nutrition, my friend decided on the challenge of a new role in an area that she had previously not worked in.
She had applied for a job in “retail”.
And she was one of the successful applicants.
And so began the induction…
The thing that surprised me about the induction process that this organisation used for new employees was that acceptance to the role required some SIGNIFICANT pre-employment training.
Pre-employment training? That’s fairly normal, you would think?
Well, as I said, this role involved some SIGNIFICANT pre-employment training.
The pre-employment training involved a four-week educational process followed by a two-week on the job training “live” before applicants were then allocated a position within the retail organisation.
So I asked myself, what could be so difficult about training for retail?
After all, it’s not life or death.
Well that’s what I thought….
Really, how much harder could a retail induction be compared to an induction to work as a dental assistant or to work as a dental front office receptionist?
Well, let me tell you this:
The training manual that my friend received was a two-ring binder with three inches thickness of pages.
Within said binder were more than ten modules of education that my friend was required to learn and to master in order to complete her PRE-employment training.
As an example of the attention to detail of this organisation, here are just five of the many topics that my friend was required to learn and master in order to complete her pre-employment onboarding process:
Greet customers in a polite and friendly manner within designated response times and make them a priority over other workplace duties.
Show interest in customer’s needs and maintain a welcoming customer environment free of complacency.
Selling to the customer by establishing customer needs, providing advice on any product or service, and facilitating the sale.
Use questioning and active listening to facilitate effective two-way communication.
Take opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell products and services that enhance customer request and maximise profitability of sale.
I found the attention to detail within this strict onboarding process to be quite extraordinary.
For a retail position, where I thought the staff attitude would be simply “you’re in our store because you have a NEED”, my feeling is that we have certainly come a long way, in terms of the impressions given by this organisation.
My observation is this:
In dentistry, sadly, the onboarding process is often as hurried and as brief as:
“You’ve answered the phone, there’s the phone, go answer it….”
A heck of a lot of the time.
Can we do better when hiring?
We need to live by the edict:
“Hire slow and fire fast.”
If we do not, other industries are going to pass us by….