Turn patients into raving fans

June 1, 2002
If you have not had the chance to read Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service (Bantam Books), written by Dr. Ken Blanchard, then I suggest that you do so.

By Cathy Jameson, PhD

If you have not had the chance to read Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service (Bantam Books), written by Dr. Ken Blanchard, then I suggest that you do so. The book, also available on audiotape, is useful for dentists who want to build their businesses and grow to their full potential. Business owners and team members will benefit from the knowledge gained.

Blanchard suggests that in today's world, it is not OK only to develop "satisfied" customers. Instead, developing "raving fans" is imperative. A raving fan (as I translate it into dentistry) is the following:

  • Someone who chooses you as their dental home
  • Accepts your treatment recommendations
  • Schedules their appointments and keeps them
  • Pays for the treatment - willingly
  • Stays actively involved with you in your hygiene department
  • Refers others to you

This six-step cycle indicates that you have developed and sustained a "raving fan."

Blanchard indicates that it takes three "Ds" to create these "raving fans." I have outlined his secrets and hope that you can take this information and begin to build a patient base that is full of raving fans.

•Secret #1: Decide what you want. In my first "Elevation" column, I outlined the concept of developing your own "vision" for your practice. Blanchard reiterates that same principle when he instructs his readers to "decide what you want." This is the first step to accomplish anything of consequence, including creating "raving fans." Your own enthusiasm for what you do will impact the people who walk through your door. You will be enthusiastic about your practice and the dentistry you are providing if you are "on course" - pursuing your own vision.

•Secret #2: Discover what the customer wants. Through careful and caring listening, discover what it is that your patients want from you. This vital insight can come through interviews, questionnaires, and really listening. Analyze your reports about the procedures that you provide, which will tell you which ones are most desired within your practice.

Knowing about the desires of your clients will let you know if you are providing the services that interest them - or if you need to expand your treatment mix.

In addition, listen carefully to what they say about the services you provide beyond the dentistry itself. I think you will agree that most people will judge you by almost everything except the dentistry.

•Secret #3: Deliver the vision plus one percent. Make sure that every one of your patients' visits epitomizes all that you consider excellent. Have a team meeting and discuss your patients' visits from the time a person calls your office; to the first time they walk through the door; during their case presentation and financial presentation; and throughout treatment. What would you consider the "ideal patient visit?" Whatever that is to you, it should happen each time a person walks through the door. Do not stop providing extraordinary service once a person becomes a long-term patient with you.

As you continue developing your practice, remember to pat yourself on the back for the things that you are doing well, and keep on doing those things. However, remember to continuously ask yourself how you can do things better. And, as you are refining your practice, always make sure that you are doing everything that a person expects from you - and a little bit more. It's the "little bit more" that people will remember and that will set you apart from the majority. It's the "little bit more" that will create raving fans.

Cathy Jameson, PhD, is president of Jameson Management, Inc., an international dental lecture and consulting firm. She has been a featured speaker for the major dental meetings throughout the world and is an adjunct faculty member of the Oklahoma University School of Dentistry and as associate professor at the NYU College of Dentistry. Her books, Great Communication = Great Production and Collect What You Produce are top sellers for PennWell Books. Contact Dr. Jameson at (580) 369-5555, or email cathy@jameosnmanage ment.com

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