How should dentists treat their patients? Part Three
Dentists, do you ask how I should provide a dental office experience?
Remember to recognize them and build a sense of belonging
When was the last time a business you deal with sent you a thank you note or made a follow-up call to thank you for your patronage? Imagine how good it would feel if you had spent a particularly significant amount of money. Imagine how good it would make you feel if the note was handwritten on a nice card or stationery instead of a generic letter spewed out by a computer. At a New Year’s Eve fundraiser for a local regional charity, the president of the local medical clinic explained to the guests seated at his table that they were able to double the size of their clinic because of a conversation he had with his personal dentist. He related that he had a difficult procedure done and his dentist called him at home that evening to see how he was doing. He was so impressed with that act of kindness that he required all of his doctors at the clinic to do the same. The result has been a huge increase in their business.
“Flowers are an excellent way to express thanks, especially to female patients. Patients who receive a flower arrangement after a long procedure are excited and will tell their friends about it for weeks.” – Christian White, CEO, White and Associates Dental Practice Consultants
Do not be lured into taking the easy way out and giving a discount or some kind of freebie from the office as an expression of thanks. These gifts are self-serving and are usually recognized as such. Giving a $50 certificate applicable to their next visit is uninspiring and not meaningful. Please remember that an expression of thanks should make patients feel appreciative of the office for being the kind of office that really went out of the way to thank them for their patronage. The gift should communicate to the patient that they have been “heard.” Gift cards suggest a lack of thought as do items that look as if they were purchased in bulk or were given by a vendor.
A practice in Minneapolis discovered that their recent new patient was from a law office in their building. When they got to know the patient during the new patient experience and throughout treatment, they discovered that he was a baseball nut who traveled to different stadiums across the country on his vacations to see the games. He also had a sweet tooth. When they completed the last seat appointment, the entire team and doctor was on hand to present him with a chocolate baseball bat they had ordered. He was surprised beyond belief that someone would go to all that trouble for him. Do you think that he told this story to his colleagues at the law office? And how many became new patients? The doctor and team became members of the “eyebrow raisers” club which inspired them to do more for the next new patient.
Dentists, Belonging is important for you too!
Why do people stay with the same doctor for years? It’s because they feel that the doctor knows them and their history and cares about them. This is the realm of the team who can remember children’s names, the name of their dog and where they vacationed last summer. It helps to have a computer to keep track of all this personal information so that you can seem more knowledgeable when memory fails.Recently a metropolitan office wanted to really push hard for new patient growth. The doctor’s novel idea was to engage a professional clipping service to send him news-paper clippings out of selected magazines, etc., on topics which he knew his patients had an interest. He then filed them by subject and periodically the team would include a clip from a magazine with a personal handwritten note from him indicating that he ran across this article, thought of (the patient) and thought that they would like a copy. Patients loved the personal attention and referrals grew commensurately.
“Find ways to make patients feel recognized, special, valued and appreciated. Get to know them and take an interest in them.” – Jay white, Dental Practice Consultant
With the arrival of e-mail and Facebook, there are even more opportunities to “reach out and touch” patients. Give them a reason to be loyal. This will pay dividends when insurance companies change and patients can go elsewhere a bit cheaper.