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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.

Systems? What are they and Why do we need them?

August 7, 2018

Filed under: Communication,Marketing,Systems,Teams — Tags: , , , , , , , — Laci Phillips @ 11:09 pm

If you have worked outside the dental industry in a business setting, chances are you are familiar with the term Systems. However, in the dental world, the term and the concept are not used as readily. But they should be. Think of systems as a set of organized instructions forming an entire network of how to. Or as one client put it “If I was hit by a bus tomorrow, this is how you do everything in the office!” We know systems and protocols are important and we know we should have them in place.  And yet this seems to be one of the biggest area’s we are lacking. For us creating effective systems in a dental office is a vital step in the process of obtaining consistent results that reflect the practice vision.

Your documented systems are your building blocks for delivering the care and experience you envisioned when you opened your practice.  When well-organized systems meet excellent customer service you have a recipe for success.  They ensure that new team members have clear guidelines on how to deliver results and existing team members know what expectations they are living up to within your vision.  Every practice is different, and every practice is ever-changing which means the systems need to change with your growing business.  These documents should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.

We find that most offices have some systems documented but not organized. Most of them may even be in your head. Finding a place to start is usually the hardest part of this process. We start by assigning categories such as Ownership, Administrative, Business, Clinical, Hygiene, and Marketing. Next, if you don’t have systems in place currently start by outlining the ones that may be needed. A nice organized checklist could be the easiest to gather your thoughts.  If you do have some in place, review them and see what’s missing or what needs to be changed or updated.

Here is a good partial list to get you thinking but remember they should reflect the practice, the vision and the systems already in place.

Accounts Receivable Scheduling Patient Retention
Posting Payments Blocked Scheduling Recare System
Posting Insurance Confirmations Correspondence
Patient Billing Open Time Mgmt. Scripting
Insurance Management Emergency Time Broken Appointments
Fee Schedule Mgmt. Office Communication Clinical Team
Verification Team Meetings Tray Setup
Claim Mgmt. Morning Huddles Supply Ordering
New Patient Daily Communication Lab Case Management
Phone Scripts Hygiene Department Clinical Notes
Scheduling Appointment Protocol X-ray Protocol
Patient Handoffs Perio Protocol Procedural Guidelines
Arrival Same Day Treatment Day End Procedures
Chairside Open Time Emergency Patients
Dismissal X-Ray Protocol Software Protocol

These are just a few items that are key to your team understanding how you expect your practice to function. Some systems will be detailed and lengthy. Others may be as simple as a checklist that needs to be accomplished each day.  The systems you create do not need to adhere to a standard format in the beginning, they just need to be clear and concise.  If at some point you want to create and implement a systems manual it will be easier to accomplish once you have the initial steps in place.

 

Now that you understand systems a bit more, you probably also realize you have some in place right now. They may not be organized and documented, but you have them. Now is the time to take those policies out of your head and put them into a workable space. It is easy to get bogged down in the details and overwhelmed by where to start. Start with your category breakdown, then your checklist. The next step is to start documenting, then formatting. It can seem like a huge project, but we promise it is needed, appreciated by the team and well worth the time and effort.

As always, the team at Practice Dynamics is here to help you accomplish Balance Driven Success by utilizing Systems Teams and Technology. Reach out with any questions you may have. We are excited to hear about your successes!

 

 

Dynamic Tuesday 07/2018

July 31, 2018

Internal & External Marketing

Marketing, like many other things in dentistry, has changed greatly in in the last five years. Where the words “Marketing and Sales” were once taboo, they are now expected and even in demand in our world. Many of us have jumped on the social media bus, but there are other factors to marketing we cannot forget.  First and foremost, make sure you have a marketing budget that is part of your yearly planning.  Once you have the budget then it’s important to target the right areas. There are two physical aspects that often get overlooked once in business.

Let’s start with the physical aspect of external marketing. When was the last time you drove to your office a different direction than your normal route? How is your signage? Can it be seen from multiple directions? Is it congruent with your brand? Make sure you also do an outside inspection of your building, the parking lot, as well as your entry way. Keeping those outside appearances is just as important as how the inside of your office looks.

https://mailchi.mp/8df9f2f1d497/internal-external-marketing?e=d6b1ffa36a

 

 

 

Strategic Thinking: Blue or Red?

September 22, 2016

Strategic Thinking: Blue or Red?

 

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I spent a large part of my dental career in the corporate environment, 23 of my 28 years. Strategy and strategic thinking were constant companions. Strategy sessions were always exhilarating and scary at the same time. Planning, creative thinking and organizing are all things I love but predicting the future can be challenging.

When is the last time you lead a strategic discussion about your dental office? If you find yourself resisting being strategic because it sounds like the fast track to irrelevance you are probably not alone. We survive in the day to day activities of our dental office and our tendency is to deal with what is right in front of us because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if we get stuck in that habit we can put our office’s success at risk. While we concentrate on the navigation of our daily business we can miss excellent opportunities that will propel us to the future.

I love a quote by Jack Welch, well respected past CEO of GE and business executive, which speaks to this very subject. It’s a bit long but it captures what I’m speaking about.

You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.

* Jack Welch –

We are entering into the fall months and summer is behind us. Now is the time to start thinking and planning for our strategic sessions that will set the tone for the future of the office. Get all your data ready and make sure you have the historical successes. Then start preparing your research and thinking about changes and additions to dentistry on the horizon.

In addition, do some research on strategy and planning. There is no shortage of books on this subject out there. I recently finished reading “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim and Renne Mauborgne. The book discusses the competitive marketplace and the difference between a red ocean and a blue ocean. In a red ocean environment you compete for the same patients and you’re a battling with other offices for the same set of patients. Too many sharks in the water if you will. If you find and develop a blue ocean strategy you’re competing in an

untapped space with unique offerings that set you apart. Finding these opportunities in your community for your practice is what will set you apart and open up your pool of patients.

Start researching, start thinking and set goals to lay out your blue ocean strategy for your dental office.

Happy planning,

Bonnie

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Great Leaders Compliment Their Team

July 6, 2016

MARK TWAIN ONCE SAID, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” While this statement may be impractical, we can understand the profound truth that the renowned author was emphasizing: there is power in a compliment.

As the leader of your practice, you are in a position to either positively or negatively affect your team. One of the most efficient ways to bring out the best in your team is by giving frequent, heartfelt praise. Whether your practice is big or small, you’ll find that sincere compliments have the power to increase productivity, performance and morale.

Tips On How To Compliment (And Why It Makes All The Difference)

A simple compliment is great, but well-thought-out praise is even better. So, how can you make your compliments more meaningful?

Recognize your team’s efforts. The first step to complimenting is taking an active role in trying to see how well your team is doing. Watch for things your employees do to help you, another teammate, a patient, or the practice as a whole. If you start noticing someone going above and beyond on a repetitive basis, don’t let it go unnoticed, reward them for it! While it doesn’t have to be after every procedure or patient, verbal appreciation should happen on a daily basis.

Know your audience. The key to complimenting is knowing who you’re complimenting and how they’re going to receive it. Some personalities enjoy being complimented in public, like in a morning huddle, while other personalities may appreciate more privacy, without any attention brought to themselves.

Make your compliments specific. Saying, “Thank you!” to your team as you walk out the door at the end of the day is great, but it isn’t enough to reap the positive benefits of giving genuine, personalized praise. For example, something like, “I noticed that you really took care of Mrs. Brown today. I appreciate you doing that, it really helped me out,” or, “My schedule looked amazing today. We were on time and it made all the difference in my day. Thank you!”

Go out of your comfort zone. We understand that some people may not be comfortable giving compliments or recognize the need for them, but giving praise is an important responsibility for any effective leader. If offering compliments is difficult for you, lean into the uncomfortable and look outside yourself to your team and their needs.

The Benefits: Heartfelt Praise Cultivates Ownership Mentality

The number one thing we’ve had dentists say to us is that they want a team with “ownership mentality.” Ownership mentality means that while employees may have no ownership stake in the practice, they are still invested in the company’s success and their work reflects that attitude.

If you start appreciating your team and the job that they do both publicly and privately, they are going to have your back. They’re going to want the practice to succeed, the patients to be healthy, and they’ll support and respect you as their leader. By recognizing your team’s hard work and making an effort to compliment them, you will empower them with ownership mentality and reap the benefits that come from having satisfied, engaged employees.

Helping You Build Your Business, One Step At A Time

There is no denying that a lot goes into building a successful practice. Recognizing and praising your team along the way is an important aspect to that success. If you’re wondering how to better incorporate the art of complimenting into your practice or have any additional questions, contact us today or leave a comment below! We’re here to to help you build your business, one step at a time.

We’re grateful for our awesome clients!

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