by Glenn Christenson, Senior Researcher
New research studies confirm that there is a direct correlation in health-care organizations between profitability and high customer service scores. In fact, the level of customer service can affect dentist compensation by thousands of dollars.
To ensure that you are maximizing revenues in your dental practice, use these seven techniques to provide "WOW" customer service:
- Request patient feedback. Survey your patients about their visits. According to a study by Medical Group Management Association, Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups: 2011 Report Based on 2010 Data, 61% of better performers used survey results to evaluate and improve practice operations. By briefly surveying your patients at the end of their visit, you will get higher survey response rates and fresher data than you would by having them answer a survey sent by email later.
- Understand that small things count. Whether it's minimizing waiting time, offering bottled water, or providing Wi-Fi, you should try to make patients feel welcome and comfortable at your office. Review patient survey feedback weekly to see where your practice is excelling … and where you may need to improve. Bear in mind that patients tend to think all dentists are comparable in terms of clinical quality. One way to set yourself apart is with those small, personal touches that people understand and appreciate.
- Develop strong relationships with patients. Patients must have confidence in the competence of the dentist and other dental practice employees, and feel they can trust them. By forming a strong bond with patients, you can keep more patients scheduled at all times and increase case acceptance. The best way to monitor how successful you and your team are at building relationships is through patient surveys.
- Retain current patients. It is much less costly and time-consuming to keep current patients coming back to your practice than it is to find new ones. Surveying them, studying the results, and making changes to improve their satisfaction level will increase their loyalty to your practice. Be sure to choose a survey methodology that generates the type of data reports you need. Also be sure to thank patients for responding to your survey, recommending changes, and rating you so highly that your practice has won a service award.
- Show patients that you care. By correcting problems in your office, you are showing survey respondents that you are listening to their concerns. You can also demonstrate your commitment by displaying an award such as that offered by Levin Group in its Customer Service Certification program. The award is only conferred on practices that receive 300 or more responses with a four- to five-star average. An award such as this can be proudly displayed in your office where staff can talk about how and why you have received it. This will not only enhance patient loyalty but also attract new patients through referrals.
- Attract new patients to your practice. By developing a comprehensive marketing and professional relations program, you will be able to promote your practice's commitment to superior customer service to the community. You can either create your own ads, press releases, and other outreach materials, or use marketing tools provided by a survey resource. Publicizing the high rating you have earned from current patients is an excellent way to attract new patients.
- Ask for referrals. If patients are not referring friends and family members to you, it's probably because it never occurs to them that your practice would like to have more patients. By using surveys to gauge customer service and responding with positive changes in the practice, you will lay the groundwork for increasing patient referrals. Then all you have to do is ask. This can be done in scripted conversations and by posting simple "We welcome new patients!" signs where current patients will see them.
All of these techniques will be highly effective at building practice profitability when used in combination with a convenient and reliable patient survey methodology. Ask patients how your practice is doing, respond in positive ways, and you will experience firsthand the connection between "WOW" customer service and doctor compensation.
Glenn Christenson specializes in collecting and evaluating customer service metrics for Levin Group. For nearly three decades, Levin Group has shown thousands of dentists, specialists and their teams that measuring and improving customer service makes smart business sense. Customer Service Certification is the latest addition to the effective tools Levin Group offers dentists to help them achieve their goals. To learn more, visit www.levingroup.com/award.
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