By Roger P. Levin, DDS
In today’s economy, dentists need more than ever to treat their patients like gold. If a patient walks out of the practice and does not think, "This is an incredible office!" then the appointment was not a complete success. This can easily lead to broken appointments or patients leaving the practice.
The true cost of unhappy patients
Unhappy patients exact a toll on every practice. They require more time from the doctor and the staff. They have more questions, complaints, and concerns about everything from billing and insurance to quality of care. They are also likely to tell others about their perception of having negative experiences in your practice. Too many unhappy patients will mean lost patient referrals and decreased production. The practice’s objective should always be to avoid making patients unhappy.
Fortunately, extraordinary customer service prevents this from happening. It is a process that begins with simple steps, such as:
- Greeting all patients properly upon arrival
- Calling patients by name throughout the visit
- Asking, “How was your visit today?” when patients leave
These are the building blocks for delivering a pleasant, memorable patient experience. But it does not end there.
Guidelines to superior customer service
To deliver what Levin Group calls Stage III Customer Service™, the right systems need to be in place. Begin by following these five steps:
- Review the customer service policies in your practice.
- Establish a standard set of operating procedures for customer service to ensure that every patient will have a positive experience.
- Survey your patients regularly to determine their satisfaction levels.
- When getting together with referring doctors, ask them about how they view customer service in your practice.
- Develop a system to handle any patient concerns or complaints quickly and in a manner that achieves total patient satisfaction.
Remember that customer service is a management system — not just a random series of actions. A true customer service system includes a specific set of strategies, techniques, and measurements.
Customer service is critical to practice success. The practice’s goal should be to provide exquisite customer service, with 100% of patients enjoying an excellent experience every single time they interact with the practice.
Stage III Customer Service™ helps your practice grow. You want your patients to become friends of the practice. Why? Because friends refer friends. When your patients become your friends, higher profitability is the inevitable result.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is chairman and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Levin Group may be reached at (888) 973-0000 or www.levingroupgp.com.