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The fine line between good and great customer service

Aug. 24, 2023
Boosting customer service from "good" to "great" involves more than just employee attitudes. Many dentists don't realize that great customer service can only be delivered if it's part of a fully documented practice system.

Every dentist I have ever met believes in excellent customer service. In 39 years as CEO of Levin Group, a management consulting firm, I’ve never met a dentist who said he or she was committed to poor service. However, many dentists do not realize that great customer service can only be delivered if it is part of a fully documented practice system.

More "Practice Production, Prioritized": 

Great customer service is not simply part of a practice culture, and it will not be achieved by simply asking the team to be nice to patients. It goes far beyond that. It is a business system that must be carried out rigorously (almost religiously) to be fully implemented. It is not an accident, for example, that Nordstrom is known for excellent customer service. Team members there are trained to go out of their way to satisfy every customer every time and are given significant freedom to pursue that objective. Ritz Carlton, thought to have the finest customer service on the planet, meets every shift every day to review the principles of their values and customer service. They even have an institute that teaches it.

If you want your practice to go from good to great in customer service, then it needs to become one of your practice systems, followed every day by every member of your team. For example, do you have written protocol for implementing each of these three scenarios?

  1. This is how we talk to every new patient caller, and the scripts that we follow to build powerful early relationships with patients.
  2. This is how we greet a new patient who comes into the office. We stand up, shake hands, offer a smile (even if wearing a mask), and welcome them with enthusiasm.
  3. This is how we develop a powerful relationship between the doctor and a new patient. We follow Levin Group’s “The Golden Ten.” The Golden Ten means that you learn 10 personal things about every new patient so that you move from a strictly professional relationship to a more personal one where people like you and trust you more.

Other essential aspects of customer service include calling patients at night, calling patients who refer other patients, giving out thank-you cards at the end of every visit that also ask for reviews, asking patients if they were completely satisfied with everything, and many others.

After years of studying the concept of customer service and observing thousands of dental practices go from poor or good to great, I am certain that any practice can achieve it if it becomes a system that everyone on the team is committed to following.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the August 2023 print edition of Dental Economics magazine. Dentists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.

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