Do You “Out-Behave” Your Competition?

Update from 2011


At Patient News, with our focus on patient education and content marketing, it’s interesting to look back at the lessons we’ve learned and shared and how much human behavior has not changed.

And in this pandemic, we “think” consumer behavior will change and there is a lot of talk about a “new reality,” but I wonder how much it will, if at all. Change is hard. People don’t like change. Will we eventually revert to our comfort zones and do things the way we always have?

In 2011 I wrote about the message in best-selling book by Dov Seidman, HOW. Why HOW we do anything means everything. It’s still available on Amazon – forward written by Bill Clinton. We gifted it to our clients that year. (I think we still have inventory, so if you’re interested in a hardcover copy, please let me know!)

In my blog I talked about the message in the book – that behavior matters more than ever.

For success, we needed to out-behave our competition. And ask better “how” questions. Not how are you, how many, and how much, rather … how am I going to engender trust in this relationship? How are we going to connect? How are we going to scale our value?

So right now, there is a tremendous opportunity in the midst of this pandemic to outperform our competitors. To inform patients about your unique attributes, provide value-added support that other dental practices in your community do not, share updates, share education, and show what makes your practice the one patients should continue to choose. 

Companies lose 50% of customers every 5 years. In light of COVID-19, and the shutdown of non-essential visits, practices have essentially lost all of their patients. Are your patients still your patients? How many will actually return? A break like this might be just the thing some needed to move on from your practice. People will use this to make new decisions.

How you manage through the pandemic and how your competitors manage through the pandemic will make a big difference in how many patients reschedule and return.

At the time that this original blog was published, I continued on to talk about call handling. We didn’t have Practice ZEBRATM and Phone Power at the time, but we were tracking and scoring a huge variety of incoming dental-patient calls, and even then we could see that every dental practice had the ability to evolve their skills, improve customer service, and increase patient loyalty.

One of the things we’re encouraging practice teams to do while in shutdown mode, is to re-take Phone Power telephone training again. It’s one full hour, you can always pick up a tip or two, and there are great workbooks and scripts you can use to role play and practice – to be ready for re-opening. Take the time now – even with your mini-team – to brainstorm on questions, concerns, and objections that you’ll get from patients, and have your answers scripted for a smooth transition back to normal operations. Be ready.

Patient News has always been the one to help with effective educational patient newsletters, and now we have several written and ready to go to assist with COVID-19 communications with topics patients will be interested in hearing about – from you, their dentist. Emergency dental services. Safety protocols. Dental membership savings plans. Your availability.

In the meantime, what else can you do?

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Your team must have excellent product knowledge and in addition, must also understand how to take a new-patient inquiry to the next level. Many people focus on features rather than benefits, so ensure that your team is trained to be present and listen, to watch for opportunities to connect with empathy and emotion, and to ask questions using emotions. “How do you feel about that?” … “What’s the most frustrating about that?” Use proactive questions to get patients more engaged in the conversation … “Knowing you want xyz right away, we’ll schedule your consultation…” … “Most of our patients don’t want to waste time, so I’ve tentatively booked you for…” … “I’ve had the whitening treatment and I love it! Lisa will take great care of you, you’ll be totally comfortable, it’s fast, and the results are long-lasting. You’ll love the way your smile looks! Is Monday or Tuesday better … morning or afternoon?” Often we’ll hear that practice staff don’t want to “sell,” but this really isn’t about selling, it’s about out-behaving. The truth is it is simply not good enough to answer questions.

Has your most recent dental marketing program been strong for both patient retention and community visibility? What have you done to instill confidence and loyalty from your team, your patients, and your community as this pandemic flares and you’re in one state of closure or another? You must consider print, web, social, email, paid … do what you can. We can help. We have special reduced pricing to assist you now and into recovery.

In 2011, I wrote that in order to provide excellent service you must go beyond product knowledge and into enthusiasm. Right now, you need everyone on your team to help instill trust in your office.

Every person who works at your practice must believe in your values and mission statement, the products and services you offer, and they must convey confidence in their recommendations and support your treatment presentations. This will strengthen trust between the patient and the practice. And enthusiasm from your entire team about what you do and what you charge for what you do can be a powerful catalyst for positive two-way communication and further patient trust. Trust – the new brand capital.

High-value patient communications are an essential component of your exceptional customer service plan – particularly right now when you can truly make a lasting impression. Don’t “go silent” on your patients.

This is cute, from the 2011 blog… My niece had recently identified an interesting viewpoint relating to communication and effort. One grandma sent her regular emails, the other holiday cards in the mail. My niece indicated that the mailed piece, with a personally written message, was the one that took more effort and was appreciated most. This actually translates to people of all ages. They appreciate businesses that make an effort to communicate with them via the mail.

During the COVID-19 pandemic – why should that story about a grandma’s mail matter? Because mailing something to your patients is THE ONLY way to reach 100% of your patients. And it’s a more meaningful gesture. And there is study after study that people OF ALL AGES appreciate mail the most.

Just this week, our CEO was speaking with a client who felt that email was the way to communicate “in this day and age.” However, when we looked into their data, they only had 52% of their guarantor emails. And with an email open rate around 20% – that means JUST A SLIVER of patients “might” see a message. Stuffed in an overstuffed inbox.

Not a way to out-behave the competition.

How are you going to scale your value to patients so they come back to your practice “with pent up demand” as some are suggesting? And even before they do, how are your patients going to find out about it?

If you have any questions about improving the effectiveness of your patient-of-record outreach program, please call 888.377.2404 for a free consultation.

We have special COVID-19 pricing available to assist you in rebounding and recovering.


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