by Roger P. Levin, DDS
What is the purpose of your team? Team members can fulfill their necessary functions in order to get the office through each day, or they can do something more. They can be ambassadors for your practice, influencing and motivating patients to accept treatment.
Your team can work for you or with you. The choice is yours.
Involving the team
Many dentists are frustrated that they cannot close more cases. There are many ways to improve case presentation, such as concentrating on the benefits of treatment and offering financial options to help pay for it. One frequently overlooked method is to bring your team more effectively into the process. Getting the entire team involved can dramatically increase case acceptance and patient satisfaction.
Based on 22 years of experience consulting to thousands of practices, Levin Group has found that many doctors try to do too much. While certain responsibilities are clearly those of the doctor, the dental team can handle many others. All too often, dentists do not think about team members being brought into the case presentation process. They should. By getting the team involved, a dentist can open more time in the schedule for productive doctor treatment and increase case acceptance.
The practice must have a road map for case presentations. Every step of the patient experience can be documented with a member of the team assigned to each step (and aided by the proper scripting). This process allows you to eliminate a phrase you do not want to hear from your team, “I didn’t know that was part of my job.” Deciding who is responsible for which tasks enables the office to run, not only more smoothly but also more profitably.
Walk in the shoes of the patient
Customer service is best understood by seeing the practice through the eyes of your patients. Let’s follow the visit of “Mrs. Jones” on a typical day in a typical dental practice. Although her appointment is about implants, it could easily apply to most case presentations ...
Mrs. Jones arrives at the dental practice for her appointment. That difficult molar of hers is getting worse, despite several root canals to try to save it. Today, she will be listening to a case presentation on dental implants. “Good morning, Mrs. Jones, how are you?” says Janet, the front desk receptionist. “Great, Janet, how are you?” replies Mrs. Jones. She has known Janet for several years and the two often chat about their children’s hobbies. Debbie, a newer member of the team, approaches with a smile to escort Mrs. Jones to the back. “I don’t know about this. I guess I’m a little nervous,” exclaims Mrs. Jones as they make their way down the hall. “I think you will definitely like what you hear about implants,” returns Debbie with a smile.
From the morning meeting, everyone on staff should know why Mrs. Jones is there and what treatment is to be presented. It is important to understand that the front desk staff should create an upbeat atmosphere when patients enter the practice by using good interpersonal skills. Patients should have a positive feeling of being welcomed and appreciated by the practice in an optimistic environment. So far, so good. Mrs. Jones has not received conflicting messages, and she feels confident after her interaction with members of the practice.
Who does what?
Mrs. Jones meets with Kelly, the treatment coordinator, who provides her with some very basic information about implants. “Good morning, Mrs. Jones,” says Dr. Smith as he enters the room with a smile a short time later to present the treatment option. “Well, what do you think of implants so far?” he asks good-naturedly. Mrs. Jones thinks for a moment. “They sound very interesting,” she replies. “I didn’t realize how good they were until Kelly explained the benefits to me.”
Mrs. Jones entered the office unsure about a procedure that was alien to her. As they speak, Dr. Smith puts Mrs. Jones at ease as he reinforces the information that Kelly has already discussed. Mrs. Jones seems to understand and appreciate the benefits, and is becoming motivated to proceed with treatment. Susie, the financial coordinator, comes in to discuss financial options. Everything is going well.
Identify who presents each part of the case. Many dental team members are excellent at preliminary case presentation and education. Dr. Smith has avoided the mistake many dentists make - spending too much time reviewing the same basic services with patients rather than having the staff review them and then allowing the doctor to provide a final overview and reinforcement.
Why do some doctors insist on doing everything? Often, they believe they must present the cases because patients expect to hear primarily from the doctor rather than someone else. Many Levin Group clients, however, have found that they save time and have far better patient satisfaction when: