(In the first of two installments: iDENTIfy is honored to feature Ben Motteram’s interview with Dr. Vadi Vojdani. Part 2 of 2 will be published tomorrow 6/7)
Vadi has been practising dentistry for 17 years and continues to learn about new ways that she can deliver more to her patients and maintain the point of difference at Island Dental – its customer experience.
Her CX journey started years ago, with the intention of changing the mindset about dentistry from the often-unpleasant trip to the dentist filled with anxiety and negative stigma to one which was inspiring, hospitable and memorable.
I recently caught up with her to find out how she’s using customer experience to differentiate Island Dental and create a loyal customer base.
I know that you’ve been interested in customer experience for quite a few years, Vadi. What first led you to start researching it?
I have always been driven to give my best in the belief that any kind of work is a service to others, whatever “work” that may be. There is no reason why the service we provide to others cannot be done with the utmost care, attention to detail and of a high standard.
This principle became instilled in my dentistry early on and inspired me to learn about extra facets of my profession clinically as well as in building my patient base.
I wanted my patients to leave my hands feeling good – not just about their care, but also about themselves! As though they have left a place they look forward to returning to, and would confidently recommend to the people they love.
What a wonderful vision! So what’s your philosophy when it comes to customer experience?
It’s simple: our patients are important to me and they deserve to be treated with integrity and respect. I need to know who it is that is walking through my door. Simon Sinek talks about knowing your WHY. It is up to me to know the WHY of my patients. The more I understand what is behind the façade of this anxious patient, or cosmetically driven person for example, the more I can understand how I can meet their expectations – clinically, physically, and emotionally.
This critical information needs to be delicately collected, stored, and even more delicately used. There is nothing worse than having your private information stored in a sterile dot point format for a stranger to regurgitate with no compassion or understanding!
The dental “business” is about relationships. When we can connect with other people, we share a level of trust and respect which allows a long-lasting loyal relationship to form. To connect with people, we need to provide a personalised experience.
The only way this type of experience can come about is with exceptional staff. They need to believe in the principles of the practice and be on the same quest for excellence. Without staff that have high standards and values, you cannot implement your desired result and you end up with a compromise. That’s non-negotiable.
We do a lot of other things like run regular meetings, staff training, staff functions to bring about staff unity and try to bring about an attitude of gratitude with positive quotations, and acknowledgement of our colleagues for work that is “above and beyond”.
I completely agree: engaged staff are the bedrock of great CX. So how do you track Island Dental’s CX? What metrics do you use?
I keep a lot of statistics. Some of these include numerical values of the people coming and going, but we keep a close eye on how patients feel following their dental experience. We personally call every single patient the following day to see how they are doing after their treatment with us.
Their feedback may include anything from how well their tooth ache was resolved or how beautiful they think their new smile is now, to how they felt when leaving our reception area at the end of their visit. We record this information and provide advice or assurance when needed to ensure our patients receive the optimal support.
One of the important by-products of a happy patient is their likelihood to refer us to their friends or family. Referrals are our most important marketing tool. To date, we have done very little marketing and only recently joined the world of social media. We have relied solely on word-of-mouth and are very careful to acknowledge those that recommend others to us. It is important they know we appreciate that they have trusted us enough to recommend the ones they love and we assure them that we will look after them.
We ask all our new patients who referred them so that we can thank them. We keep a record of who people refer so that we get to know their network better, we send them a letter of thanks acknowledging that they have entrusted us with their friend or relatives care, and ensure we thank them personally when they are next in.
What a privilege for us to see someone’s family and friends! In my eyes, there is no greater compliment.
Dr. Vadi Vojdani, Practice Principal at Island Dental
Ben Motteram, CXpert
Ben Motteram is an unabashed believer that Customer Experience is the last true differentiator. With over 20 years of experience in customer acquisition, customer retention and customer service, Ben has been recognised many times for the thought leadership articles that are regularly published on his blog. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome insights on everything to do with customer experience, customer service, and employee engagement.