When I visit Dental Offices around the world I’m surprised at how many of them simply “park” their patients in a holding pen.
And then somehow wonder why they have difficulty with those valued patients at the end of the appointment.
- Difficulty presenting treatment
- Difficulty presenting fees
- Difficulty scheduling ongoing appointments
The arrival of each patient and their subsequent waiting time presents a great opportunity for the Ultimate Dental Office to really show that patient that indeed we are truly different. Not simply different from other Dentists around, but different indeed from most other businesses around out there.
Just because we aren’t yet ready to transact with our patient, [I mean treat them], does not mean that our office cannot prepare that patient before their treatment so that they are in a state of comfort, familiarity and acceptance, as opposed to the traditional approach of “Sit there. Read a magazine. And wait until we’re ready.”
“And when we’re ready, we’ll call you. And not before.”
What then happens in this “traditional” sort of scenario is that the waiting patient starts slipping into the negative side of anticipation.
However, when the patient is concierged and attended to, and receives unexpected attention, well then, they’re in a totally different mental place than they would have expected to be…
And as such, they’re in a positive place. And when in this positive mental place they’re more likely to be more accepting and more agreeable to the treatment we have planned for today, as well as being in a more positive mind frame to discuss any subsequent treatment that we may present to them on this day.
This is because nobody likes to be ignored.
And so if we’re accidentally ignoring our “parked” patients by default, we’re simply making our lives far more difficult for ourselves when we simply do not need to be doing so.
So if your Dental Office can implement these following five simple strategies to make each arriving patient feel as though we’ve been preparing all day just for them, then you’ll go a long way towards improving some of the really important numbers at the back end of the patients’ visits.
1. Greet the patient before they introduce themselves
Easy to do. After all, we have a map.
Or rather, a schedule of who is coming to see us, what their name is and what we are going to do for them.
And if they are a regular patient of the practice, we know them, and know what they look like.
And we know what they’re like.
And everybody loves recognition.
So how difficult is it really to be waiting with anticipation for the two people arriving at two o’clock, when it says in our appointment schedule that at 2:00pm Mr. John Smith is coming for a hygiene visit and Mrs. Betty Brown is coming in to have two fillings replaced?
And so we can easily “Beat the greet” with these patients.
To “Beat the greet” we simply make sure that we are prepared in advance for the arrival of each patient, so that we can welcome them before they are forced to announce themselves.
And that’s just simply a matter of knowing in advance who’s coming in next.
And being ready…
2. Ask them how their day has been
This is a perfect question to ask from mid-morning onwards.
Because traditionally, they’re usually simply ignored at other places.
Because other Dental Offices don’t have a Customer Service plan
3. Thank them for arriving early, and explain why
If we want our patients to always arrive early for their appointments, rather than on time, or late, we need to make sure that we not only thank them, but we also must make them feel appreciated by letting them know why this indeed helps the office out.
We used to have an employee who told patients:
“You know you’re early?”
As if to say, almost, “you know you’re stupid?”
Or that’s how it sounded.
Thanking the patient for arriving early praised the patient, and encouraged this very acceptable and helpful behaviour.
We also made a point of letting as many people in our office hear that Betty had arrived early and we had thanked her. Patients hearing this soon picked up that it was indeed helpful behaviour to arrive early at our office
4. Make the act of waiting one of pleasure
Most places out there greet you like this:
“Won’t be too long. Just take a seat”
Take it where?
These are words without thought.
We always would motion towards a seat and ask the arriving patient to:
“Make yourself comfortable, Mr. Jones. I’ll go and let Dr Moffet know you’re here early, if you’ll excuse me for a moment? You never know, we may be able to get you seen earlier, if you’d like? I’ll be right back…”
5. Offer them a beverage
But don’t ask them if they’d like a coffee, because most times they’ll reply “No thank you” thinking that they’re going to be a bother.
Instead, do this.
Say to them:
“Bob, I’m just about to make myself a cup of tea. Can I make you one as well?”
In this case, Bob is far more likely to accept your offer, because if you are already going to boil the kettle, the act of making Bob a cuppa is far less bother, when you let him know that you’re already making one for yourself.
6. Discuss some upcoming event that the patient has, or maybe an event that has occurred for them since they were last in to see us
We know these patients, so it’s not easy to relate to them. After all, every time they come in they let us know about an event in their life that they’re excited about.
It’s simply up to the people in our office to make notes about what our patients talk about and share this information with other team members.
This is the collection of “Secret Service Information.” And it’s collection and later use, are important factors in differentiating your Dental Office from all the others out there that have no real idea about treating people like people.
It can be information relating to our patient, or it can be information relating to their friends or family as well.
7. Congratulate the patient on being a valued client for however many years
If it’s good enough for American Express to put it on your charge card, then it’s good enough for you to recognise your valued patients for their tenure.
And we know how long they’ve been coming, because we have their Dental chart and history.
Everybody loves to be recognised. And this is just one of those simple, easy to do ways.
Remember, it’s really quite easy to make your Dental Office stand out from the ordinary ones around you.
Because nearly all of them are just simply parking their patients until it’s time for them to be treated.
And in so doing, they’re doing themselves a dis-service.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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