Patient is king. He is always right. He knows best. A happy patient is a flourishing practice.
As business owners, we hear this all the time. These statements are considered a given for the success of any practice or business in any field; yet they are seldom applied with purpose and can be frequently forgotten. As a result, not only business suffers, but its reputation too.
Below are 15 Golden rules for top notch patient support that you need to understand and incorporate into your business immediately. Doing so will not only enhance your patient experience but will generate surprisingly greater monetary rewards.
1. Treat Technology as an Enabler Rather Than a Replacement
We live in the Digital Age. This fact can neither be ignored nor overlooked. We need to incorporate newest technology in our business practices in order to stay relevant. However, this technology should be used to support rather than replace parts of the overall customer/patient experience. Human to human interaction is extremely important. So while an automated email can be used for sharing news or information, it should not be used for patient follow-up.
2.Don’t Just Focus on the Core Product
So you know how to fix a crooked smile? Great! But so do thousands of other dentists. What will set you apart from your competition is the value that you offer along with the basic services. Why a potential patient will choose you over other practices is the quality of service and other incentives that you may have to offer.
3. Don’t Be a Price Taker be a Price Setter
What this means is, don’t be in a competition with others based on price, or try to match their offerings and services. Rather, you should focus on setting the prices by offering your own unique set of products and services.
4. Compete for Value Not Commodity
Similar to the previous point, you shouldn’t only focus on problem solving, but rather the overall patient experience. So as a dentist, rather than investing in the priciest surgical chair as an upgrade, you could focus on more customer related investments like maybe a play area in the waiting room or charging docks (like I personally have done) or even a small café on the side.
5. Managing the Intangibles
What is the first thing a dentist would do if you asked him how can he help you? More often than not, he will tell you about the school he went to, or the number of years that he has been in practice, or the expensive equipment he uses. That’s all great right? But what, as a patient, you really want to know is how will he calm your nerves before a procedure? So it’s important to focus on the intangibles, because that is what your patients are really interested in.
6. Patient Comfort- Going the Extra Mile
Customers are not just looking for a product or service, they are always on the lookout for solutions to their problems. You wouldn’t just go to a hairdresser and tell them you want a haircut get it done and leave. You want to know that you can trust the hairdresser to give you a style you will be happy with, give suggestions if need be, heed to your nervousness and confusion, provide support if something goes wrong, and most importantly, make the whole experience worthwhile.
And that’s just a pain-free experience of getting your hair cut which will eventually grow back. For someone coming to a dentist, all that nervousness and confusion will be multiplied several times. So you need to be able to convince patients that you’d heed to all their queries and confusions with utmost dignity and respect.
7.Offer More than Your Competition
Being in business is not just about opening a shop and waiting for a sale. It is about waking up every day and asking yourself what you can do to make it better than yesterday. Don’t try to level up with your competition but rather offer more. This doesn’t have to be just about better products, but, as discussed before, a better experience.
8. Talk about Your Value Added Services
Do you offer childcare services for patients who can’t leave their small kids at home? Awesome! Do your potential patients know about it? More often than not, businesses fail to capitalize on the services and incentives that they offer or simply fail see what it is that they can offer!. Even if you offer something as basic as a few board games or an activity center for children, make sure you mention it on your website, pamphlets or while marketing your services.
9. Recruit the Right People
You may have great people skills, but not all potential patients would be initially interacting with you. They’d first be speaking to your receptionist, and if they aren’t friendly, helpful and welcoming, the chances are your potential patients would not be calling back. When recruiting focus more on a candidate’s personality rather than experience. You can teach skills but not personality.
10. Customer is Right, Preserve their Egos
This is the underlying rule for all great businesses. A patient comes to you to want to feel better, and that’s exactly the kind of experience he should walk away with. Avoid the need to correct them, regardless of how badly you want to. They should be walking out that door with their egos preserved, that is very important for them and extremely crucial for attracting repeat bookings for your practice.
11. Accept Your Mistakes
Mistakes will happen. You need to accept that. As humans, we are wired to be defensive. Fear of having unhappy patients can be debilitating. And that fear in itself makes us defensive and unwilling to accept our mistakes. Just saying ‘I am sorry you are in pain’ will help make patients feel better.
12. Be Kind
The success of your business does not just depend on how good of a dentist you are but how good you are with your patients. The most successful dentists aren’t those that went to the most lauded dental schools or the ones with most experience; they are the ones who know how to treat their patients well. Be kind to them, ask them if they have any concerns or confusion that they’d like to speak to you about.
13. Follow Up With a Call. Your Job Isn’t Done Yet
A little follow up call wouldn’t take much time, but it would go a long way in terms of retention and referrals. Personally following up with patients going through major treatments or parents of younger patients, is great for relationship building .
14. Spend On your Existing Patients
If you have been reading my work, or listening to my podcasts, you’d know how strongly I feel about the retention of existing patients. Rather than spending thousands of dollars and endless time and energy chasing new patients, you should invest in looking after the patients you have. If only you’d spend a fraction of that time and effort on your current customers, they’d do all the marketing for you. Value your existing patients and let them bring in more business.
15. Do Not Ignore After Care Support
Okay this might sound like a moot point, but it’s surprising that most practices don’t understand the value of aftercare support. An unhappy patient can end up a great advocate for your practice. Listen to complaint and fix the issues as quickly and kindly as you can.
P.S. Whenever you’re ready …. here are 4 ways I can help you grow your dental practice:
1. Grab a free chapter from my book “Retention – How to Plug the #1 Profit Leak in Your Dental Practice”
The book is the definitive guide to patient retention and how to use internal marketing to grow your practice – Click Here
2. Join the Savvy Dentist community and connect with dentists who are scaling their practice too
It’s our Facebook group where clever dentists learn to become commercially smart so that they have more patients, more profit and less stress. – Click Here
3. Attend a Practice Max Intensive live event
Our 2 day immersive events provide access to the latest entrepreneurial thinking and actionable strategies to drive your practice forward. You’ll leave with a game plan to take your results to the next level. If you’d like to join us, just send me a message with the word “Event and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here
4. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take your profit from 6 figures to 7 figures …. just send me a message with the word “Private”… tell me a little about your practice and what you would like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details! – Click here