Shoppers - Are They Really Looking for the Cheapest Care?
“It is a waste of my time to answer the questions of a shopper, they are just looking for the cheapest price and don’t care about quality.” Jane D, Office Manager
How often a patient continues to shop around after receiving a treatment plan is often unknown unless the patient says to you, “I am going to get a second opinion.” It is easy to assume their decision is swayed by the cost of the care and not the quality of the product and the expertise of the service. If you haven’t enhanced the quality of the products you use, then you haven’t established market value. For instance, if you say to the patient that you are providing white fillings for $380 a tooth, it doesn’t sound impressive but maybe it does sound expensive. Think about what is involved in making this filling.
“We are providing the best available composite material on the market, known for its durability and strength against fracture. We will be matching the color of this filling with your other teeth so it is as natural as the tooth you had originally. You will be able to chew normally on this tooth as soon as the numbness goes away. With proper care this filling(s) will last for many years.”
Dental services are provided in a sterile field by trained and licensed professionals. The patient is receiving a product and service with long term health value. It is up to the practice to be able to create an environment to deliver this message.
If you haven’t enhanced the value of your service to the patient, then you will be shopped for a second opinion. From the initial point of contact you are building trust by answering the patient’s questions, greeting the patient with a caring and helpful attitude, seating the patient on time and conducting yourself professionally. If there is tension in the office from friction between staff members or the doctor is in a surly mood, the patient will quickly pick up on this and will become cautious about having care in your practice. This lack of trust, not the suspicion that your fees are too high, is the main cause of “shopping” another practice.
When a person phones your office asking about your fees for a particular procedure, it is up to you to decide how much time you want to spend on this call. Generally, people who have been quoted a fee at another practice call to see if the fee they were quoted is reasonable. The patient has doubts, and in order to resolve these reservations they call offices nearby to “shop” for answers.
Take a little time, but take control of the conversation by asking:
“How did you hear about our office?”
If the patient wants a price for a crown, quote a range that includes a periapical x-ray and possible build-up fee and say, “We must verify this quote with an examination and an x-ray.”
Shoppers are not necessarily looking for the cheapest option. They want to perceive that the value of the product and the service equal the cost. Think of shoppers as people who need dental care and need questions answered. If you take the time to help them you may end up with a new patient, or maybe you’ll just create goodwill. You will be surprised to hear that offices get referrals from people who have never been patients but were treated well on the phone.
To learn about scripting for other situations that require excellent customer service skills, take the time to improve your practice by signing up today for a training course through McKenzie Management.
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