From time to time in our dental careers there are opportunities in business to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
I’ve been fortunate throughout my Dental practicing career to be at the right place at the right time on a number of occasions, and I see another great opportunity presenting itself now for those dentists who grasp hold of it.
This is an interesting opportunity, because my initial thoughts about this were at odds to my core belief of offering World Class Customer Service at all times.
But having said that, I got down from my high horse and weighed up all the facts and then and only then was I able to see the wood for the trees.
The advancement I am speaking of involves the use of technology.
And as you know, I’ve written many many times about how technology has been used in the dental office to replace the use of the spoken word, many times to the detriment of the overall process.
Sometimes the process of automation has overridden the benefits of really having a human being there when we need one.
We’ve all gone through the frustration of calling a help line with a big company only to have to speak clearly to a machine that is trying with great difficulty to recognise exactly what we are saying?
Who actually trusts that leaving a ten second voice to text message on someone’s mobile phone will in fact be translated and transcribed exactly as we need it?
And even Siri has trouble decoding our questions and dictations, doesn’t she?
In the same way that trying to have a conversation with a teenager wearing earplugs attached to music is frustrating to a baby boomer, then so too is the concept of technology being beneficial to the Dental Customer Service process on every occasion.
I find it abhorrent that a pop up on a computer or a phone rung remotely from the front desk to the operatory has been used to replace the melody and theatre of the spoken word introduction about the arrival of a valued guest in our office. [Read my previous article on this here]
And yet in that instance a geek has been able to create an emperor’s new clothes situation as a substitute for a process that has multiple beneficial advantages.
So what is the new advancement in technology that has impressed me so greatly lately?
It’s the advancement in the comfort and precision of online dental appointment scheduling, especially for new patient enquiries and bookings.
I’ve been opposed to giving total strangers to the dental practice easy access to our blank canvas of our appointment schedule.
And after all, if there’s one piece of continued resistance I find in the Dental offices that I consult with it is the concept of pre-blocking and “templating” our schedule for maximum production and efficiency.
Efficiency for the dentist, efficiency for the dental assistants, efficiencies for the front office and efficiencies for the hygienists.
And all the interactions that go on between these modalities in the dental office.
Templating our schedule allows for the dental office to run seamlessly with far less interruptions and incongruences.
So my question was:
“How on earth will the granting of access to the general public benefit a dental office already struggling with efficient templating and pre-blocking of their dental schedule?”
I was pleasantly surprised.
Firstly, I found a programme that allowed us to reflect online appointment availability selectively for any new patient enquiries and bookings without causing major disruptions to our schedule.
I found a company that allowed you the office to choose which time slots you wanted to make available or not available at any given time on any given day for any given operator.
And so this allowed the Dental office to create an illusion of busyness to the online enquirer.
Important to the process of online scheduling is the creation of illusion and mystique.
We don’t need to make all our times available.
A great company will allow you to pick and choose your online availability.
The second and most important thing that I needed to let go of was the concept of needing to have someone in my office in charge of and controlling the new patient enquiry, thus verbally helping the patient schedule a time with the aid of our service and friendliness.
You see those sort of things are always nice when we receive them, but sometimes, as a consumer, we do not need to be babysat nor do we feel the need to be babysat at all.
Sometimes we just want to get in and get out quickly.
And more and more, in other fields of life, this is what’s happening.
When booking a restaurant, it’s nice to simply scan an app like Open Table or Trip Advisor and book our dining table there and then.
One and done.
Done and won.
When we’re going to the movies or a concert or a sporting game, we have the ability to book our exact seats without needing to talk to someone.
We get to see the venue map and seating arrangements right there and then.
So why as dentists are we not allowing our busy patients the opportunity of scheduling their dental appointments remotely?
It just makes no sense for us to not get on and ride this technology wave and let this happen.
So what exactly happens?
Well, assuming that your new patients can now schedule an appointment with you via an online process, what are the advantages?
Well firstly, it makes your office look ahead of the game.
If your office is seen to be one of the only offices around with this service, your potential patients will gain the perception that your office is at the cutting edge of technology.
And that may or may not be exactly the truth of the situation, but the perception received by the scheduling new patient is profoundly valuable to your practice.
If the process is relatively seamless, your new patient now has the opportunity to tell their friends about how they found this new wonderful high tech dental office that allowed them to schedule an appointment without the need for calling.
How good is that form of word of mouth advertising?
To your office?
Invaluable, I say.
Finally, the fact that someone has scheduled an appointment allows us to make contact with them and wow them even more.
Because now we have their data.
So now we can contact them with news and information and gifts ands surprises well before their appointment.
And that’s something that most other dental offices never ever do.
At most dental offices patients are lucky if they receive a confirmation text message before their scheduled appointment.
That’s a pretty ordinary way of communicating with a new patient between scheduling and the actual appointment.
I see this opportunity to WOW ands overWOW as being a wonderful way of making your Dental Office stand out and be talked about in the community at this time of oversupply and competitive cut-throat cost cutting by our opponents.
Remember people don’t mind paying extra when there is value and perceived value attached to their purchase and their experience.
And this gives the forward thinking Dental office the opportunity of standing out in a loud crowded world of vanilla.
Want to be different?
I suggest you catch this online wave…
Which company am I seeing as the market leader here?
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