You all know the story about my Dental Practice….
In 1997 I attended an evening presentation put on by a Dental Management Firm.
I had just come out of a very sour arrangement with my first ever Dental Coach, but I knew that a Coach was indeed what I needed.
Anyway, at this presentation the Coach said:
“We can go into a dental practice and find an employee costing that practice $200,000.00 per year”
And I said to myself:
“That’s my practice!”
In 1997 I knew that the front office employee that had worked for me for eight years was indeed working against me.
And so the coach said:
“We’ll either change her, or we’ll change her….”
And so we did.
She did not change, so we replaced her.
And things just magically improved…
You see our checkout process leading up to 1997 was so, so abrasive, that all the good work on service being done in the treatment room was being completely undone in the reception area when our valued patients were checking out, or settling up and making their ongoing appointments.
Well, they were and they were not.
They were settling up, but they were not making appointments to have their remaining treatment completed.
Because our front office person was so abrasive in nature she was scaring the patients away with her lack of care and compassion.
So how do we “frame up” our checkout procedures, to give the best result for the patient and the practice?
How indeed do we do that?
1. We begin with the end in mind.
Before the checkout process even begins, we must know in advance what we have done today for this valued patient, and with that knowledge we must then know which outcome we will want to achieve from our checkout of that patient that will give the best outcome for our patient.
With that in mind, we know the outcome we need to achieve and we work towards that outcome for our patient.
It is our role as the front office person to ensure that the patient leaves with their next appointment scheduled, and with an understanding of the consequences of delaying or putting off this necessary treatment.
If the patient leaves without an ongoing appointment we have let them down.
Understandably, they will always need further treatment, or hygiene. That’s the nature of dentistry. So they need to have that scheduled. And it is our duty of care to them to organise that next visit.
“The purpose of an appointment is to make another appointment”
2. We Are Ready For Them
As an invited guest visiting a friend’s home, nothing disappoints more, I think, than getting the feeling that our friend hasn’t really made an effort with our visit.
You know the feeling?
The lawn is not mowed. Bikes and toys and pairs of shoes adorn the front porch and doorway. The living room looks like a cyclone has just hit.
And the kitchen is full of dirty dishes….
Well maybe I exaggerate….
But if they knew we were coming, why didn’t they make an effort?
It would be so much nicer.
At our Dental Front Desk it’s the same.
We have a schedule. We know pretty well what time patients will be leaving the operatories to come sit with us in the front office and go through the checkout process.
Yet our desk is messy. We have paperwork strewn across the desk. Sometimes piled up?
Maybe some product catalogues?
Maybe we’re on the phone to a rep, or supply company?
In all these cases, we’re failing to offer an inviting environment to the departing patient.
And that’s got to weigh on their psyche, that maybe there’s a nicer place to get my teeth done than this place?
After all, they might think, that if this place is unorganized on the outside, they could very well be unorganized inside my mouth too?
3. There are no interruptions
Call it what you will, but the checkout process is indeed a business meeting, and deserves to be respected as such.
And as such, primarily, as a meeting, there should be zero interruptions to upset the flow and the purpose and the desired outcomes of the meeting.
Nobody likes to watch a movie with repeated interruptions.
We want to enjoy the film from go to whoa, in one sitting.
And it’s having that same continuity during our checkout process that raises our levels of success in trying to ensure that the patient leaves with all of the desired outcomes, especially the securing of the next appointment time.
Any distraction or interruption to the flow of our checkout process is about as welcome as a bathroom visit while on an important date.
4. Time is of no consequence
Nobody likes to feel rushed.
Or passed over.
Nobody likes to feel as if they are just a number.
So the checkout process, though purposeful, should always be relaxed.
So the patient feels as though it is a chat between long time friends. Almost like having a coffee, if you will.
So that the settling of the account, and the scheduling of the next visit, are handled with a feeling of “whatever I need to do” and “whenever he wants me”, because I’m really just visiting here with my friend.
And when you take the time to create this relationship, and this environment with your patients, it all just begins to happen effortlessly.
Yes it does….
5. Nothing is too much of a problem or a concern
Mary Kay Ash said that everybody out there is walking around with a large invisible sign on them that reads:
“Make me feel important”
And the best way to do that in the checkout situation is to let the patient feel that they are in control, while you gently “schmooze” and “romance” them into the desired treatment and necessary appointments.
We don’t want our patients ever to leave their appointment feeling like they’ve been a bother, or an interruption to our day.
To the contrary, we want them to leave feeling as though we’ve been waiting all day just to see them, as they are the most important person visiting us that day.
And when we create that perfect environment for the checkout, life becomes so much easier for us and our patients, because that seeming “tug-of-war” that they usually feel becomes non-existent.
And that is indeed a wonderful feeling.
For not only us.
But for our valued patients as well.
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The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.
Email me at email@example.com
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