Most practices have good customer service, but good is no longer good enough. To stand out in today's crowded dental field, you need to provide great customer service. Patients are always at risk for leaving your practice, especially when your customer service is less than amazing.
You might be saying, "But, my patients love me and my team. Most of them will be with me until the day I close up shop."
10 reasons why they leave
My response is simply this: "Yes, your patients might love your practice today, but they still may leave you tomorrow." That sounds like a blues song, doesn't it? I can give you 10 reasons why some of your best patients may be gone before their next appointment:
- They changed their dental insurance.
- They lost their dental insurance.
- They moved, even a short distance away.
- They heard a friend rave about another practice.
- They received a coupon in their email about a free exam from another practice.
- They miss your former hygienist who left under mysterious circumstances.
- They had a bad or so-so experience at your practice.
- They heard about someone else's bad experience at your practice.
- They don't believe they need to go to the dentist every six months.
- They canceled an appointment and were never rescheduled.
3 ways to differentiate your practice
Providing great customer service cements your relationships with patients and keeps them coming back to your office. As the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar has said, "There are no traffic jams on the extra mile."
Exceptional customer service separates you from the pack, but it's not a one-time commitment. No, it has to be an all-time commitment. If not, you'll find yourself stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic with the rest of the good practices.
Ready to upgrade your customer service? Do the following three things:
1. Find more ways to say "yes"
Patients love hearing the word "yes." It makes people feel good ...
- Yes, Dr. Jones can see you on Wednesday afternoon.
- Yes, we accept that insurance.
- Yes, I'll be happy to take you back to the treatment room.
But what if they ask a question and the answer is "no"? That's simple. Never reply with the word "no."
In fact, strive to banish all negative language such as "can't," "don't," and "won't" -- from the practice.
Instead of telling them what you can't do, tell them what you can do. Instead of saying "Dr. Jones can't see you on Tuesday afternoon," tell the patient, "Dr. Jones can see you on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon. Will either of those times work for you?"
2. Show your patients that you know them
People love being recognized, hearing the sound of their own names, and talking about their families and their interests. When patients come in, greet them by name. Ask them about their kids, jobs and vacations. Pick up the conversation from the last time patients visited. In fact, you should keep a file with updated personal information in the patient record.
In large practices with multiple doctors, it can be hard for team members to form a connection with patients. That's not a problem with smaller practices. In fact, that should be one of your strengths. Continue to build strong relationships with your patients, and they will gladly tell others about your practice.
3. Surprise your patients
When was the last time you threw your patients a party? Did you hold an annual patient event recently? Have you ever celebrated a patient's 10th anniversary with the practice?
My point is, don't take patients for granted. There's a lot you can do to tell patients --especially long-time ones -- that you appreciate their business. For instance, when patients reach their 10th anniversary, you could give them a thank-you card and a gift card to the local coffee shop. It's a seemingly small gesture, but it can have a big impact.
The business of relationships