Although there is no shortage of reasons for why dental practices fail, lack of differentiation is one that often tops the list. The good news is that this is a ‘choice.’ In today’s hyper-competitive market, distinguishing yourself from your competition is critical to your dental practice’s long-term success. Even when competitors offer the same service and treatment options, the right people and culture can heighten your patient’s delight with their experience, increasing the likelihood that they will remain loyal to your practice. Culture impacts many aspects of your dental practice but today we will focus on what your staff and doctors say and how that can be an effective differentiating factor.
We recently came across an article in Forbes (“Customer Service Experts Say ‘No Problem’ is a Big Customer Service Problem’ – Here’s Why,” November 1, 2015) by Micah Solomon. The writer says that the use of the phrase ‘No problem’, used in response to a customer’s ‘Thank you,’ “tends to drive customer service customer experts, trainers, and thought leaders crazy, myself included.”
Solomon explains that in his view, saying ‘No problem’ to a customer implies that the service provided has posed a problem to your organization, and that any further services may pose even bigger ones. He writes: “In other words, you can’t ask people not to think of a pink elephant without making them picture such an elephant immediately. The ‘no’ in the phrase “no problem” has zero evocative power. The ‘problem’ has plenty.” Thus, he says that in the company manuals he writes and customer service training programs he provides he tells employees to instead say something like ‘It’s my pleasure.’ or ‘thank you.’ At iDENTIfy, we wholeheartedly agree.
Our 3-year pilot study of orthodontic practices in the Western United States lent support to a finding in a study published by Salesforce Research, (State-of-Sales-Report-Salesforce, 2016): the customer experience is the “number one benchmark,” hence the key to setting dental practices apart from their competition. Following implementation of simple operational excellence initiatives, including a year-round patient feedback e-survey platform used to measure and improve the patient experience, pilot study practices saw a 450% increase in 5-star Yelp reviews in 2016. The same practices increased new business by 15% that same year. The term “customer experience” applies to the physical and cultural environment, and the formal and informal policies and procedures that govern your practice. This includes, we submit, what your staff and doctors say to patients.
Dr. Roger Levin, dentist and Chairman and CEO of the Levin Group, Inc., the largest dental practice consulting firm in North America, has said that “At a time when fiscal health of an office is more challenging than ever, it is important to differentiate your practice from competition and providing an outstanding patient experience is an excellent way to do so.” We concur: thorough on-boarding orientation and frequent refresher training that includes information about how to effectively communicate with patients is central to achieving a consistently extraordinary customer experience, unavailable anywhere else.
The key takeaways here are that reliance on the old ways won’t open new doors and dental practice leaders have a choice: continue with the status quo and accept a middling status in the industry, or focus on the pursuit of excellence (we like to refer to it as operational excellence) that can transform your practice. Besides rethinking what your staff and doctors say, there are plenty of additional ways your practice can stand out from competition. Hopefully this gives you a great place to start and some inspiration to focus on when setting your practice apart, rather than just fitting in.
A call to action: In 2018, ensure that your staff and doctors keep it positive by saying, “It’s my pleasure or thank you” rather than “no problem” during patient interactions.
Read our other articles regarding Operational Excellence and High Reliability Concepts below:
Trude Henderson is the founder of iDENTIfy, Inc., a startup elective dental and medical practice improvement software company. In 2016, she was the first to introduce High Reliability Organizational Concepts to the dental industry. For questions, contact her directly at Trude@GetIdentify.com. Follow Trude on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trudehenderson/ (no email required)
Go to iDENTIfy’s website: www.getidentify.com