A common obstacle we face when working with clients is the doctor’s sense of isolation in his or her own practice. That is, doctors often feel as if they are the only ones pursuing their practice vision and moving toward greater practice efficiency, case acceptance and other important goals. The team seems to have no sense of urgency with regard to helping patients understand the treatment diagnosed or with helping patients move forward with acceptance and completion of the treatment at hand.
At Jameson, we firmly believe in the team approach to case acceptance. Each member of your dental team has the power to make or break the relationship with a patient and, in that vein, has the power to help patients say yes to the treatment they need or want. How engaged is your team in the customer service experience for your patients and in the education and support of diagnosed treatment?
The Power of Excellent Customer Service
According to a survey by American Express, 78 percent of consumers have declined to make an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.1 Translate that into dentistry: Every time a patient calls your practice, every time they walk through the door, every interaction that they have with you or your team members — these instances are a part of the experience. They are the building blocks on which patients will make their dental decisions. Whether we agree with that process or not, it is human nature.
Horst Schulze, chairman and CEO of Capella Hotel Group and former president and COO of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, says that customers will make a significant decision about their experience upon being within 6 feet of the first person they come into contact with in your business! That is staggering! What are you as a team doing to ensure that every interaction and every experience builds upon your brand and the value of the treatment you are providing? Every moment builds the patient’s perception of your value.
As a team, take a walk-through assessment of your facility. Come in through the front door, sit in the reception area for a few minutes, sit in the dental chair, and look up! Look for areas that need updating, cleaning or a reset — whatever is needed to enhance the perception of the value of your practice and your services.
Work together, as a team, on improving your telephone skills. Listen to phone calls and record the interaction. Help your team improve clarity and warmth on the phone. Use a patient communication slip to ensure you are gathering the necessary information to schedule the patient appropriately, and to convey the important details to the team regarding the patient’s needs so that what we call “linkage communication” takes place. It is a fantastic way to make the patient feel important and feel heard, and it allows your team to be heroes in that patient’s experience at the time of the appointment.
Clinical Photography’s Role in Supporting Diagnosed Treatment
Hygienists and clinical assistants need to feel completely comfortable and confident in the use of intraoral cameras to capture needed treatment and to show and support the diagnosis when the patient is in the dental chair. Our recommendation is to have a camera in every operatory, or, at the very least, one camera for the dentist and one for the hygienist. Use these cameras on your patients every day, every time. This visual support helps open the doors of conversation with what is going on in your patient’s mouth, the benefits of the treatment diagnosed and the risks of not proceeding. Photographs will also support treatment that has already been completed because showing before and after photos of the patient’s mouth can support the result and show the patient the benefits of the decision to move forward with the investment.
On a regular basis, practice taking intraoral photos with each other as a team. Practice talking about the dentistry in the photo with the “patient” in the chair. By practicing and role-playing regularly, the team can become more comfortable and confident in what to say and how to say it, and more efficient and effective with the technology.
Case acceptance is a team effort. When each member of your team embraces their all-important role in this system, and enhances their skills and confidence in that role, your patients will feel, see and experience the value you provide and build their trust in you to a place that gives them the comfort and confidence to say yes.
Carrie Webber is Chief Communications Officer and co-owner of Jameson, a dental management, marketing and hygiene coaching firm that helps dentists and teams become more productive, more profitable and ultimately more fulfilled in their practicing lives.