12.20.19 Issue 927 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Focus on customer service to grow your practice

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

When you provide patients with an exceptional experience, they become loyal patients who accept treatment and refer. These types of patients are vital to practice success, allowing you to recoup the costs of attracting new patients to your office while also establishing a solid base of patients who keep you productive. Happy patients help your practice thrive, and one of the best ways to keep patients happy is by offering superior customer service.

You and your team members should focus on providing exceptional customer service at every patient touchpoint, from the time they make that initial phone call to learn about your practice until they’re checking out after their appointment. This also includes social media and other online interactions, which are becoming an important part of how patients communicate with dental practices.

Bottom line: Making customer service a priority is an easy, effective way to grow your practice. Here’s why:

It costs less to retain patients than it does to attract new ones
Getting new patients in the chair can be expensive. In fact, it costs five times as much to attract new patients to your office as it does to keep the ones you already have. Most dentists spend more time and effort on getting new patients through the door than they do trying to keep current patients happy. The problem is, all those new patients won’t do much good if you never see them again.

What’s the best way to ensure patients come back to your practice? Offer them an experience they won’t forget. Train team members to greet them with a friendly smile and to do what they can to put even the most nervous patients at ease. Offer them coffee or water as they wait in a comfortable reception area that feels more like a cozy living room than a dental office. Patients will remember these small touches and will reward you with their loyalty.

Patients will be more likely to refer your office
When patients are wowed by your practice, they’re going to talk about it to family and friends. They might even be prompted to write a positive review or share their experience on social media (Don’t be afraid to ask. Many patients are happy to do this). You’ll get new patients on the schedule without having to spend a dime on marketing.

Of course, patients are also going to talk if they have a negative experience. Instead of singing your praises to family and friends, they’ll tell them to stay away from your practice. Making customer service a priority will help you avoid this scenario.

Patients won’t mind when you raise your fees
If patients feel connected to your practice, they won’t be upset when the price of dentistry goes up. If your office provides top-notch care and invests in technologies that make their experience more comfortable, they’ll expect fee raises from time to time.

Many dentists are hesitant to raise their fees because they’re afraid they’ll lose patients, so they keep prices the same year after year. This, of course, costs them money and ultimately hurts their practice.

I suggest establishing a solid fee schedule for each service you provide and then adjusting twice a year. The first increase should be 2% followed by 3% for an annual yearly increase of 5%. Patients will barely notice these increases—especially if they’re happy with the practice and the customer service you provide.

Patients will be more likely to accept treatment
Patients say no to treatment for many reasons, but one of them is because they simply don’t trust the dentist’s recommendation. If you take the time to develop relationships with patients by offering exceptional customer service, they’ll feel more connected to the practice. They’ll be more likely to stay loyal and to accept the treatment you recommend, boosting practice productivity and your bottom line.

You’ll know what improvements need to be made
Part of offering stellar customer service is listening to your patients—especially when they’re unhappy. So instead of attributing complaints to the patient having a bad day, really listen and try to understand what the problem is. Thank the patient for bringing the issue to your attention, and then assure him or her you’ll correct it.

Taking patient complaints seriously offers two main benefits: patients see you value their opinion and care about the experience they have at your practice, and you get a chance to address problems you didn’t even know existed. Maybe you didn’t realize patients were waiting on hold for 15 minutes to simply schedule an appointment, or that your website is difficult to navigate. You can use this information to improve your practice and provide an even better experience for your patients.

Establishing a solid base of loyal patients is key to practice success and profitability. Making sure your team members are focused on providing exceptional customer service during every patient interaction, whether on the phone, in person or online, will make more patients want to call your office their dental home. Your practice will grow and so will your bottom line.

Next Thursday: How to Improve Customer Service In Your Practice Share this Newsletter

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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