According to a November 2016 report by Salesforce, “The customer experience is now the Top Sales Benchmark.” With this said, we at iDENTIfy believe that the power is in the people – your dental patients and your employees, all stakeholders – and it is they who determine if your dental practice excels or falls behind. We recently lighted upon an excellent blog (“7 Foundations of a Great CX Program,” CCW Fall Executive Report, February 21, 2017), by Ben Motteram that we think illuminates the truth of this assertion, and we would like to share it with you, the dental practice leader. The blog’s author, a proud native of Adelaide, Australia, says that he derived his “foundations” from the 9 principles for building the city from scratch enunciated by Edward Gibbon Wakefield in the 1820’s.
Below you will find Motteram’s 7 foundational principles for building a superb CX program, accompanied by some responses of our own:
1) Identify your purpose. Ask yourself why you are in business, what your organization is trying to accomplish, and, Motteram adds, “connect to your customer base, employees and other stakeholders by defining your mission, vision and values and communicating them widely.” We at iDENTIfy, couldn’t agree more, and often recommend that dental practices take time out of their busy schedules, away from the practice, to have a collective discussion about this topic. For example, we suggest that at least once a year, teams review the practice’s mission statement, identifying strengths that the practice as a whole, a team or an individual has to offer patients. Jim Collins, bestselling author of Good to Great, estimates that companies that remain mindful of their purpose outperform their peers by a factor of six!
2) Understand your customer’s distinctive value proposition. As Motteram writes: “Empathy is the key to your success!” Ask yourself why your customers come, stay with you, and go; conduct focus groups and surveys, observe customers as they use your products and services, and then “create a Customer Advisory Board and mandate that all executives are to spend time talking to customers on a regular basis.” We wholeheartedly agree and would add that because patients have more options open to them than ever before, it’s important for everyone in the practice to understand the unique value the practice has to offer. If it doesn’t align with what patients want or need, or if they don’t perceive it early enough, they might choose a competitor who they believe offers better value. That competitor may be right next door or on in another state, but in any case, people are willing to travel for a better value.
David Shen, DMD, recognized as one of the top 5 Invisalign® practitioners in the world, observes:
Late engagement leaves opportunities, patient relationships and potential revenue on the table. iDENTIfy addresses the value gap by facilitating early relationships between a practice and their patients— before they have their hearts set on any practice and before they have ever set foot in your door. In a society where people are hardwired to want things now, this is truly a game-changing strategy!
3) Focus on employee engagement. The author reminds us that many studies have demonstrated that disengaged employees have a negative impact on an organization’s CX. You should provide your employees with everything that they need to succeed, make sure that your hiring and training procedures are up to snuff, insert a CX-related feature into every employee job description and develop suitable company rewards for achieving CX strategy goals. We agree and invite you to take a look at our October 2, 2017 blog for a more in-depth look at the subject of employee engagement, as well as Gallup’s work on helping leaders combat poor employee engagement.
4) Strive to identify what your customer is looking for. Says Motteram: “The experience you give customers is too important to leave to chance so define your aspirational customer experience as part of your CX strategy, sense check it with your customers, and then work towards making it a reality.” At iDENTIfy, when we talk about making sure that people have a good “patient experience,” we mean not only showing patients that you care about them, but successfully meeting their physical and emotional needs as they relate to treatment.
Based on our experience, many practices focus on what they can do ‘to’ their patients, rather than striking a balance between the treatment they need and what they (the practices) can do ‘for’ them.’ One of the best ways to ensure that your patients are valued, appreciated and well-cared for is to utilize a good e-survey platform, with virtually burden-free analytics and alerts. One thing to remember, though: “Never ask a question about an issue that you are unwilling to address.” Collecting feedback and then failing to act on it has negligible value.
5) Then, strive to understand what your customer is currently undergoing during their entire experience with you. The author suggests that you do this by charting the route taken by the customer: “Develop a customer persona, select a discrete customer journey, list all the touchpoints that a customer has with you on that journey, then at each touchpoint determine what a customer is thinking, feeling and doing and how your organization is impacting their emotions.” An advanced Patient Communications Platform like iDENTIfy is designed to give you, the dental practice owner, the opportunity to listen to, analyze and act on information, at each touchpoint, from the patient’s point-of-view, thus enabling you to achieve operational excellence and delight them. These insights, combined with a customer journey map, can produce a number of benefits, among them: peace-of-mind that you’re consistently delivering high-quality care in a comfortable, compassionate setting.
6) Be nimble. Nowadays, customer demands change at a lightning pace, and your organization must move with equal alacrity if it is to adapt. It is best, however, to desist from transformative changes; says Motteram, “be comfortable making small incremental, frequent changes as you move towards your aspirational experience.” We agree and would add that it’s important, when it comes to your staff, to ensure changes come with plenty of good communication, appreciation and fun.
Our 3-year pilot study revealed, for example, that saying ‘Thank you!’ often helps foster resilience. Employees who feel appreciated are more likely to endure the inevitable bumps in the road and continue moving forward, favorably impacting the patients in your practice. In addition, we recommend that you discuss and resolve issues on-the-spot, rather than waiting for the occasional conference room meeting, but make sure that all conversations regarding these matters are held out of earshot of your patients.
A daily huddle, if executed properly, can be one of the most effective leadership tools at your disposal for making small real-time, incremental changes. In fact, a well-executed huddle of five minutes can be more effective and inspiring than a twenty-minute, poorly-executed one.
7) Then, “measure and communicate success.” The author suggests that you use metrics to enable customers, employees and everyone else involved, to understand and appreciate the extent of your gradual progress in making the aspirational experience a reality. We would add that based on our experience, dental practices that encourage transparency usually have higher-performing teams than those that do not. As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.”
Transparency and trust go hand-in-hand. People who are open and honest generally inspire greater esteem and confidence than others. The same applies to leaders, customers and organizations. Our advice: utilize visual metrics in daily huddles to reward ‘right’ behaviors and help your team understand where they are now. Then, ask them ‘what or how’ questions like this: “What are the gaps that need to be filled in order to get where we want to be?” or “How do you propose that we accomplish this task?”
In short, we suggest that you, the dental practice leader, remain mindful of these 7 pointers while honing your CX program.
Read other articles by CX expert, Ben Motteram:
Watch iDENTIfy’s doctor video:
Connect with iDENTIfy on Twitter: