You Canít Make These Things Up!
I often get calls from offices around the country with stories and questions that are pretty amazing. If you have been in practice for any length of time, you probably have quite a few stories as well. Clients of McKenzie Management receive information and training on how to handle a vast array of situations. When the staff is equipped with scripts on what to say and ideas on how to handle certain circumstances, problems are easier to deal with.
However, here are a few stories from the “You Can’t Make These Things Up” file:
Dr. M has a welcoming and homey practice in a small town. Most of his patients have been with him for years; in fact, many were patients as children and are now bringing their children to him. His office is located in a residential area and patients sometimes walk or bicycle to their appointments. It is not unusual for an older sibling on a bicycle to accompany a younger sibling on a bicycle for their appointment, with parents available by phone if any “permissions” are needed.
Last week, Joey, an older brother age 14, accompanied Anthony, a younger child of 10, to his recall appointment. Joey was planning on waiting in the reception area until Anthony was finished. When Pam, the dental assistant, went out to get Anthony, he calmly got up and walked with her down the hall. But then he broke into a run, ran to the back door of the office, opened the door, ran to his bike, got on it and rode away! It all happened within seconds. Pam was left standing in the hall in shock. She quickly told Dr. M what had happened and he went out to the older brother, Joey, to inform him that Anthony was gone.
Joey was quite disgusted with his younger brother and left on his bike right away. Dr. M told Joey to please call when he got home so the office would know Anthony was safe. Meanwhile, Pam called Anthony’s mom to give her the news. Luckily, while Pam was on the phone with Mom, Anthony came in the door of his house. Mom told Pam that she would reschedule his appointment for later next week. Pam told her, “Please come with him. He gave us a heart attack today!” As clients of McKenzie Management, as well as students of experience now, the office has made a policy that an adult must accompany all minor children to appointments.
Here’s another example. Marie is a patient of a McKenzie dentist now, but was formerly a patient of Dr. S. She had been new to Dr. S’s practice, having found the office by way of a friend at her work. Marie had a new patient exam, adult prophy, and several restorations. She was happy with her treatment, although she thought the fees were a little high. Even so, she had decided to become a regular patient. That is, until she was approached by staff at the conclusion of her last appointment and pressured to film a positive testimonial for Dr. S right then and there.
The office manager and Dr. S both accompanied her into a private office area equipped with a video camera and a sample script. They asked her to express how happy she was with her treatment and how reasonable their fees were. The script had the language they wanted her to use. They told her that they planned on posting the video on social media including Facebook and Twitter. A release form allowing for the posting was included at the bottom of the script. Marie was flabbergasted! She told them she had no intention of filming a testimonial and hurriedly left the office. Needless to say, she never returned.
Word-of-mouth and written or filmed testimonials are very powerful for obtaining office referrals, but should never be solicited in such a heavy-handed manner. A McKenzie dentist knows that at the conclusion of treatment it is appropriate to say, “We have loved taking care of you. If you have any friends or relatives who need dental care we would be very happy to see them.” Then if a patient is referred, a thank-you card and gift are sent. If the dentist or staff happen to see a positive review on social media, it is also a nice idea to send a “thank you for the kind words” type of letter. Pressuring patients to provide positive reviews will not work, and in fact will likely backfire.
Here is a final story. Petey was a six-year-old boy who received two restorations from Dr. B. Petey had gotten along very well throughout the appointment. He was cooperative, calm, and seemed to be unperturbed by the entire process. Dr. B congratulated him on his behavior at the end of the appointment, and got down on one knee to be level with Petey while talking to him. He said, “Petey, you did a great job today. That wasn’t so bad, was it?”
Petey looked at Dr. B, made a fist, and punched Dr. B in the nose. “That wasn’t so bad was it?” he said.
Working in a dental practice can be an adventure. Certain things will happen that you just can’t make up!
Carol Tekavec RDH is the Director of Hygiene for McKenzie Management. Carol can improve your hygiene department in just one day of training “in your office.” Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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