When the economy becomes a factor and people get nervous about investing in their health, it is customer service and relationships that will transcend the obstacles.
The truth is there will always be dental patients who will continue to strive for ideal care, invest in their oral health, rise above insurance obstacles, and pay any fees, if 1) they like you, 2) they value their experience, 3) they are committed to a lifetime of health, and 4) the team can make their treatment affordable.
Focusing on enhanced customer service will create strong relationships and increased commitment from patients, which is the secret to maintaining viability in all circumstances. Unfortunately, providing patients with an experience that exceeds expectations may feel like “fiddling while Rome is burning” when there are feelings of fewer patients. We woefully undervalue what it means to provide an ever increasing level of service to our patients, because we assume that if we are good people and provide excellent dentistry, the rest will take care of itself. That is just not the case!
It’s easy to get stuck and focus on the clinical aspects of care, and forget the very important “human agenda” that goes with that care. Patients will judge your quality of care first and foremost by how they feel, not how long a restoration lasts or whether you use the latest technology. It is always appropriate to start any strategic plan with a long, hard look at your customer service. Customer service, in theory and in practice, is comprised of four basic elements:
1. Designing expectations for new levels of service and results
2. Working every day to exceed those expectations
3. Providing feedback/testimonial opportunities so that customers can focus on the positives of their experience, and
4. Never resting on your laurels
An ever evolving, continuously improving practice in the best and worst of times must always have a core service strategy plan to continuously surprise and delight customers. Patients who are raving fans get that way because of your care. There is no better secret to survive any and all economic twists than to enhance your customer service. My challenge to you is – what are you going to do in the coming months to serve your patients in new and unique ways? Figure it out, and go with it!
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