Another great article from Shep Hyken came across my desk last week.
The article, titled “A Purposeful Customer Experience Shouldn’t Happen By Accident” was written by Shep in response to a comment from someone he was talking to about long-term strategic plans.
There’s a very good correlation from this article to the practice of and the business of Dentistry.
You see, in business you need to have long-term strategic plans.
And in dentistry it’s no different.
I was recently explaining to a dentist how he could easily add $100,000.00 to his collections over the next two years by simply looking at his customer service systems for retaining patients, by improving the way his phone was answered, and by gently adjusting his fees.
Well actually the increase I showed him was so simple it would add $158,000.00 in revenue, so he’d only have to have a two-thirds result of not much change at all to be adding that extra six figures of collections…. More about that in this Friday’s blog coming up.
Anyway back to Shep. He wrote:
“She asked me how I planned to make those [future] goals a reality. I told her what had been successful in the past, and how it should continue to take me into the future. Her response took me by surprise. She informed me that I had been successful by accident. While I had my goals, the detail about how I planned to achieve these goals was minimal.”
This is much like how most businesses, and most Dental Offices, run their businesses.
They bumble along, hoping that what has worked in the past will keep working, but not really knowing exactly what it was that did work, and why it worked, and whether it will continue to work.
Most dentists I meet get to the end of the financial year and ask their accountant “How did I go? How much did I make?”
And they don’t really have any idea where what they made went…
“That made me think about how many organizations go about delivering great customer service. In effect, they do it by accident. They hire good people and hope they will deliver based on their past experience. Some companies take it a step further and have some training. Still they are just hoping to achieve what the customer would consider to be a great customer service experience.
Customer service doesn’t happen by accident.”.
This is exactly what I’ve found in Dentistry.
Dentists “hope” that Customer Service happens.
They have no detailed plan.
In fact, many don’t even consider Customer Service need to be even a system or a policy in their Office.
And that is really, really sad!
“The best companies don’t take a chance. They actually design the experience.
“It starts with hiring the right people and training them, but that still may not be enough.”
And that, right there, is the answer.
A lot of Dentists out there “hope” that they hire the right people, and “hope” that their instructions to those people will turn them into great customer service people, but they don’t train them.
And keep training them.
They’ll maybe tell them how something should be said, but they won’t have regular time allocated to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse and rehearse.
Nor do those dental practices have a detailed script and protocol guide crafted purely and entirely from the viewpoint of the visiting customer.
Think about professional football teams for a minute.
They just don’t “turn up on game day” and wing it?
They have daily practices of the routine procedures of a game.
Day in and day out.
Week in and week out.
Over and over and over and over.
Until it’s learned and repeatable.
Until those plays are learned and repeatable.
Over and over and over and over.
They protect that football and treat it like gold.
But very few Dental Offices show that same respect for their valued customers and patients as these footballers show for that football.
Very few Dental Offices come anywhere near this detail at all.
“So here are a few steps in the process to help you move from accidental to purposeful amazing customer service.
1 . Already mentioned is hiring and training. By the way, training should be ongoing – not a one-time thing. Training isn’t something you did. It’s something you do. It doesn’t always have to be a big training session. If you have a weekly meeting, take several minutes to highlight customer service and share a tip.
2 Create the customer journey map. This is plotting out all of the touch-points that the customer has with your organization. This shows the obvious places where the customer can form an impression, and where the opportunities are to make that impression a Moment of Magic®.
3 When you are looking at the journey map, determine what goes on behind the scenes that drives the experience at any particular touch-point. For example, a server at a restaurant may take the customer’s order and five minutes later come back with the food. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes to ensure that food comes out in a timely manner and is prepared the way it is meant to be. What are the friction points that could hurt the front line touch-point? How can they be mitigated or even eliminated? What can you do to enhance or make the frontline touch-point better?
4 Train people on how to deal with mistakes and complaints. It’s not a matter of if you will ever have one of these Moments of Misery™, it’s when. The best companies make mistakes and have complaints, but they have trained their people and have a system that turns that Moment of Misery™ into a Moment of Magic®.
When I talk to Dentists and Dental Offices these are the exact same points that I emphasise that need to be put into practice to take an ordinary Dental Office and transform it into an extraordinary one.
1. Regular training. Ongoing. Just like the football teams do it.
2. Know your Dental Customer Experience Cycles and each and every stage that your clients pass through each and every time that they visit and connect with your office.
3. Know the components of each and every stage. Know the various standards and opportunities that exist at each point of the patient’s visit that we can WOW them and delight them.
And surprise them.
4. Know each of your potential Service Defects that can occur at any time during your patient’s visit to your practice, or even while connecting with your practice.
And know your Service Recovery Systems intimately, so that they can swing into action immediately if required.
Our Service Recovery should always attempt to be even more impactful than the experiential point where the customer just encountered a rare defect.
“Don’t rely on chance or luck to make you successful. Be purposeful. Plan with detail. A long-term successful customer service initiative doesn’t happen by accident.”
And that’s it in a nutshell.
Plan with detail.
And rehearse, practice, and perfect.
It is no accident that the successful companies are successful because they have a specific purpose.
And the procedures and protocols and practices to match.
Success in dentistry need not be any different….
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
Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset. For more information contact +1 (314) 692-2200 or www.Hyken.com
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