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Customer Service: What Does It Mean To You?

August 22, 2018

Everyone has been a customer or patient.  In these roles, what are a few defining experiences that set companies or offices apart in your stories?  What was the core reason for making that a good or bad experience?  These are great questions and can lead the way to a productive discussion with your team.

When we think about customer service and best in class service we think about brands like Starbucks, Disney or Southwest Airlines.  We know there are many people that don’t care for SWA, but we have become raving fans.  This loyalty is built from our own experiences and from many stories from others.  Here is just one experience.


Southwest Airlines Proudly Sponsors Honor Flight Network

Southwest donated more than $20,000 in air travel for nearly 50 Lone Eagle Veterans and their guardians to participate in a special Honor Flight and V.E. Day 70th Anniversary commemoration events in Washington, D.C. and visit the memorials that honor their fellow soldiers who lost their lives in battle.  They didn’t stop with the monetary donation they did so much more.  I was lucky enough to be in the Baltimore airport when one of these honor flights was due to land.  Southwest agents throughout the terminal announced the arrival and asked anyone who had the time to join them at the gate to show our appreciation for their service and sacrifice.  As the plane land and proceeded to the gate two fire trucks created a water arch for the plane to drive under.  As the Veterans came off the plane they were greeted with cheers, flags and many heartfelt thank you messages.  It was an experience I was honored to be a part of and one of the many reasons I love Southwest airlines.


In our dental offices we strive to emulate experiences that reflect our core mission and values and deliver a patient experience we can be proud of.  But what does that mean and what does that consist of?  It may be different for every office and it may have different unique touches that truly reflect who they are as a dental office.  There are many key areas to evaluate and polish when you are working on your patient’s customer experience.  Here are our top 10:

  1. Marketing: Your marketing, no matter the vehicle, reflects your office brand and sometimes the first impression for a new patient.  Make sure it reflects the office and delivers a consistent message about your practice.
  2. New Patient Phone Call: The quality of this interaction can make or break a new patient experience.  Teams should be prepared and have clear expectations set on how every new patient call should be handled and the proper verbiage to use.
  3. Non-Verbal Communications: When is the last time you really looked through all the non-verbal communication that your office uses?  Review every written communication piece that leaves your office along with all the signs and written statements found throughout the practice on a regular basis and make sure they are on target.
  4. New Patient Visit: This sets the tone for your future relationship with this patient.  Make sure the office and the entire team is well prepared and ready for this visit.  This is your chance to connect and bond with this new patient and to build trust, all important elements in any relationship.
  5. Handoffs: When a patient visits the practice and interacts with each team member; are the exchanges reflective of your office?  Make sure key information is exchanged properly in front of the patient, never make the patient repeat and pay attention to body language of the patient and team member.
  6. Office Aesthetics: Your office aesthetics play an important part in the overall experience.  With a fresh set of eyes walk through your entrance as a patient.  What do you see?  What catches your attention?
  7. Technology Efficiency: We love technology, but technology should enhance your patient experience.  It should never get in the way or hinder the importance of human interaction.  Make sure your office systems are efficient and supportive.
  8. Team Dynamics: The dental team is an extension of the practitioner.   They need to be engaged and understand the mission and vision of the practice.  Continual education and regular communication is key to everyone delivery the same experience.
  9. Focus on Service: It sounds simple but how often do you discuss or train on the importance of customer service in your practice.  Make it a priority and keep the conversation going.
  10. The “It” Factor: What sets you apart?  What are those memorable items that stay with patients when they leave your practice?

The things to evaluate and look at are simple. What’s not simple is the consistent application of the behaviors. Excelling in best in class customer service takes thought and effort. But, once you make them habit you can go just about anywhere.

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