by Tom Orent, DMD
In Part One, we had greeted Shirley at the door, welcoming her with open arms. Since writing the last article, I was fortunate enough to witness the epitome of "wowing" new patients at the front door.
The "new-patient experience"
I had the pleasure of witnessing the orchestration of one of dentistry's finest five-star teams anywhere. Drs. Roy and Chris Hammond have created their own version of the "dental spa" in Provo, Utah. Their 15 full-time team members all wear wireless two-way radios fitted with earpieces and tiny microphones. To watch them in action is no less thrilling than to experience the Boston Pops on July 4th.
They have no front desk. They are a truly "front deskless" practice. The front door opens to an expansive, but homey, living room. Paula catches sight of the new patient coming up the walk. It's Shirley. They had discussed Shirley's first visit during the morning huddle. Paula quietly keys her microphone and alerts the entire team to Shirley's arrival.
Imagine the surprise of a new patient to literally have your personal treatment coordinator hold the front door open as you enter.
The new-patient tour
When we left off last month, we had just offered Shirley an array of drinks from our juice bar. The most common entrée to a medical or dental practice usually begins with, "Here is a form ... could you please fill this out for us?" Paperwork should be the very last thing you address with your new patient — just before the team or doctor interview begins. There will be time for paperwork, but first, create an incredible lasting impression.
Why do you perform the new-patient tour? Shirley is an honored guest in your home. You would naturally show her around. Now, add a certain normal level of anxiety on the part of the new patient. The tour is an opportunity for you to put her mind at ease. It also is a chance to "show off" your team and your office. Once they've had a chance to meet some of the team, they'll feel far more comfortable.
Many years ago, when we first started giving a new-patient tour, we noticed an odd phenomenon. When offered the tour, 10 percent of our new patients told us they preferred not to have one. "I'd rather just sit down here," they'd say. Funny thing, this 10 percent was almost always made up of the patients who would have benefited the most. So, from that point on, we no longer told them we were going on a tour. We simply say, "Shirley, please follow me!"
Every office will script an entirely different tour. As you walk through, introduce your new patient by name to each staff member and doctor. If team members are with a patient or on the phone, introduce the new patient very quietly. A simple nod and smile from the team member or doctor will acknowledge the highly honored welcomed guest.
As you move through the office, various locations should spur you to mention important facts about the practice. When you pass by the doctor's "brag wall" (all the framed certificates), tell your guest just how proud you are to be working with a doctor whose devotion and focus is ... (brag about some of the advanced courses or training your doctor has completed).
When passing by hygiene, let your patient know just what an incredible hygienist she is about to meet!
Just as there are no two identical practices, there never will be two identical new-patient experiences. One thing is common to all VIP 5-Star offices — an urgent sense that every detail of the new-patient experience can make or break the potential relationship you desire to create.
Dr. Tom Orent, the GEMS GUY, is a management consultant and practicing dentist. He is a founding member and past president of the New England Chapter of the AACD. He has presented his "1,000 Gems SeminarsTM" in four countries and at state and national meetings in 46 states. He has lectured at numerous dental schools and is the author of four books and numerous articles on aesthetic dentistry, practice management, TMJ, and "Extreme Customer Service." Dr. Orent may be reached at (888) 880-4367, by fax at (508) 879-4811, by email at email@example.com, or visit www.1000gems.com.