Recently, an online dental discussion group brought up this topic:
There were a lot of ideas from the group like:
Have the dentist call the new patient the night before to say she is looking forward to meeting them.
Get up from the desk and walking around to greet patients as they enter.
Recognize special events in their lives.
Acknowledge when you are behind schedule.
Provide stellar customer service.
All good suggestions. But if it comes down to numbers, you won’t be able to compete simply on that level. There are TWO DISTINCTIONS above all else that will give you an edge.
The FIRST DISTINCTION is to identify what makes you distinctive. What do you provide that your insurance-driven colleagues can’t or don’t. Are there services that you are particularly known for such as TMJ therapy, sleep apnea solutions or sedation dentistry? Is your specialization one that is unique and notable? Do you offer second opinion consultations? Do you have a comfort dog at the practice?Without something compelling, you are just another dentist. Whatever that distinction is, name it and claim it. Identify who your audience is and above all else, remember the second distinction.
SECOND DISTINCTION: Build your entire practice around this question:”How can we make our patients lives better than when they first walked in?” You see, no one goes to the dentist for no reason. People have complicated lives and one of the last things on their list is you, the dentist. They only contact you when they believe you can help solve a problem they have – then they want you to go away. And their expectations are usually low because their previous experiences (in an insurance-driven office) were probably less than stellar in part because no one cared to learn about what was important to them. So, the more you and your team develop exceptional behavioral and problem-solving skills, the more you will learn about your patients and what they care about. Everything you do from there is built around that objective: “How can we make your life better than when you walked in?” Identify the answer to this question and remember it throughout each stage of the process. Provide individualized care, fashioned just for them and keep going back to what problem, in quality of life terms, you are helping them solve.
All the other things such as calling patients to find out how they are feeling, acknowledging birthdays or asking about their vacation, even filing insurance on their behalf are nice but it won’t keep a patient from switching practices because they have insurance.
What will make the difference is your unrelenting desire to solve your patient’s problem so they feel good about the experience and can go on with their lives. That is what will distinguish you from everyone else in the marketplace and for a lot of people, that is worth the difference they are willing to pay from what insurance will cover. It’s really very easy once all the systems and the right people with the right skills are supporting you.
We help dentists evolve their practice to this new model.