I’ve been in dentistry for 11 years and I still consider myself somewhat of a newbie. I am constantly learning from people who have been delivering exceptional patient care for decades. From what I’ve learned, there is a “secret sauce,” and it’s quite simple: give more than you take.
Dental teams are in the business of providing services that can be life-altering. For that, we take two very precious resources from our patients—time and money. At the end of an appointment, our goal is to make sure patients feel that we gave more, much more, than we took from them.
Give patients the attention they deserve
To know what to give patients, we need to know what they want. The trick is, “want” changes from patient to patient. So, we seek information and understanding by asking leading questions with genuine curiosity. Then we listen and pay attention. The more leading questions we ask, the more we know about our patients. The more we know, the better we’ll be able to deliver exceptional patient experiences.
One of the best leading questions I’ve found is, “Mrs. Smith, our patients want different things for their dental health and their experience here at our practice. We want to make sure we give you what you want and need. What would make you happy?"
Mrs. Smith will now share with us what her top priorities and expectations are when it comes to her dental experience. She will tell us what the “minimum” is, but we will work hard to give her even more! Of course, this is just the start. We want to know more about Mrs. Smith as a person, so we will ask more leading questions about her family, hobbies, job, dreams, vacation plans, and more because that’s how we create a long-term relationship.
We continue to give patients attention throughout the entire patient journey. When patients call, it’s no ordinary person answering the phone. It’s a “sunshine pumper,” who has the responsibility of giving patients the attention and care they deserve from the very first, “Hello, Grove Dental Associates.” When patients arrive for their appointments, there’s a person at the front desk with the sole responsibility of ensuring everyone in the reception area is comfortable. This sets the tone for the entire dental experience, so it’s very important.
Give patients little things that surprise and delight
In addition to meeting patients’ unique and specific expectations and needs, we’ve put a lot of effort and thought into our patient experience. We’re lucky enough to have a wonderful garden and koi ponds surrounding the practice. The area is so lovely that patients have asked to hold events and weddings here, and we’re happy to give them the opportunity. We love celebrating life with our patients. For instance, when the braces come off of our orthodontic patients, we usher them to a photo backdrop complete with props and take pictures. This gives them a moment to celebrate their new smiles.
We take kids to feed the koi. We give patients cappuccino, coffee, hot tea, or water. We have a signature fragrance, so we don’t smell like a dental office. We have a tech bar with charging stations. If it’s raining, we greet patients in the parking lot with an umbrella. If patients don’t drive, we will pick them up and take them home. We want to give patients every opportunity to get to our office and become healthy.
We do all of this “giving” because we’ve found it’s the small and unexpected things that can make a big difference. It’s the small things that are memorable, and that patients tell their friends about and post on social media. And it’s the small things that add up to great care, which is why we do them.
Give patients choices
It’s important to remember that patients have choices. Choosing you as their dental provider is just one choice they’ve made. We purposefully give patients options whenever we can. For example, we ask them how they would like to receive communications—by text, phone call, or email? Then we honor that choice. As I mentioned earlier, one of the things we receive in exchange for our dental care is patients’ money. We want to make this exchange as easy as possible, so we provide patients with choices, including a financing option through the CareCredit credit card.
When we give, we receive
My journey to a career in dentistry was a bit unique. I started as a patient in the practice, became friends with the doctors, and was offered a job. I went from school administration to practice administration and have absolutely no regrets. When you see the metamorphosis of patients who have been provided with life-changing dentistry, I think you can become hooked for life. That’s the other secret—the more you give, the more you receive. Now, I’m not talking production, treatment acceptance, referrals or revenue, although we do receive more of these necessary things. I’m talking about trust, appreciation, and goodwill.
The doctors and I also try to give a lot to our team members. We believe in communication. Everyone on the team has a voice and everyone’s opinion is valuable. In fact, if you’re inspired to become more of a giver, I suggest you have a team brainstorming session and give everyone an opportunity and voice to develop ideas and ways to implement them. Finally, we are committed to constant training, helping each individual grow, learn, and excel. We are committed to taking the time to celebrate the team’s personal and professional successes. Not surprisingly, we have found that the more we give our team, the more we get back in return.
Every human interaction consists of give and take. In our practice we have found the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive” is our secret to success.
Jamie Perryman is director of operations has been acting as the office manager of Grove Dental Associates on Grove, Oklahoma, since 2008, In 2016 he was recognized as the Dental Practice Administrator of the Year. Perryman reminds the staff that the impact of what they do superficially rests on the dental treatment itself, but ultimately, success is dependent on the relationships developed with patients and the personalization each action should have. When not in the office, he loves spending time with his wife, Jenean, and their children and grandchildren. He stays very active in the community, church, biking, and outdoor activities.
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