2.24.12 Issue #520 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Does Your Practice Have the "Xcellence" Factor?
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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When it comes to customer service, there's an interesting twist that occurs depending on what side of the table you are on. When you are the customer, you expect service to be superior. The same is true of your patients. They expect that same level of excellence whether they are standing at the counter, sitting in the treatment chair, calling on the phone, or waiting in the reception area. However, when the situation is turned, too often staff forget the importance of excellent customer service.

When we work with dental practices that struggle with customer service, we typically find two common themes:

1. Staff think they are delivering at least “good” customer service.
2. They have a host of excuses for why they can’t deliver better customer service - too few employees, too little time, not enough money, poor technology, and the list goes on.

In most cases, it comes down to a lack of awareness and a lack of professional training.

Dental teams muddle along trying to figure out the best way to handle this “tricky” patient situation or deal with the “complainers” or just consistently convey a friendly and helpful attitude. In the past, weak customer service was a problem that might affect a practice over time, and through word-of-mouth the practice’s reputation might suffer. But my, how times have changed. Today weak customer service is a problem that could affect you not over time, but overnight. Before social media, when customers were dissatisfied they would tell between 9-15 people. With Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the like, the few dissatisfied people in your patient ranks can tell hundreds, if not thousands of others, in mere seconds. Never has it been more important for the entire team to consistently deliver excellence. Read on.

The latest American Express Global Customer Service report, which was released in May of last year, showed that people feel businesses are slacking when it comes to customer service. In fact, 60% believe that businesses have not increased their focus on providing good customer service, which is up from 55% in 2010, and 26% think businesses are paying less attention to service.

Additionally, nearly 80% of those surveyed indicated that they did not make an intended purchase because of customer service. Consider this in terms of treatment acceptance. How many patients were ready and eager to move forward with your treatment recommendations only to be treated poorly when they called to schedule the appointment and subsequently cancelled? How many new patients came to the office once, only to be “educated” on the practice’s strict payment policies and never make another appointment?

Ours is a culture of high expectations when it comes to customer service. But what is important about the survey is not the numbers of individuals who willingly leave a business because of poor service, but the percentage of those ready to invest in businesses that provide quality customer service. What is particularly interesting about the survey is that it revealed Americans are willing to spend some 13% more with businesses that provide excellent customer service, up from 9% in 2010. Some patients may not be spending as much as they used to, but one thing is certain. They are more likely to invest in your services provided that quality customer service is consistently delivered.

Nearly 60% of customers will try a new business or service provider if they believe the customer service experience will be better. This is an opportunity waiting to be seized. Can your practice provide the customer service experience that the majority of patients are looking for? Turn this number into new patients, satisfied patients, and long-term patient retention. There is a goldmine waiting to be tapped in superior patient experiences.

We've been touting the importance and value of customer service for decades, but never has it been more critical in separating the average dental practice from the truly excellent. If you are interested in improving your customer service, call me at 877-777-6151 or email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com

Want more of me? Click here to visit my blog, The Lighter Side, for more Dental Practice Management info.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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