One of our Senior Account Managers just brought me the results of a client’s patient survey – it was a fantastic yet very interesting review. This client generated a 10% response. (The general rule of thumb for a client survey is to expect a 2-15% response, lower if there isn’t an incentive.) Overall the patients were very complimentary; they love this practice and the doctor. Top marks for front desk service and the doctor was referred to as a “genius” by many patients. There was a little dip in satisfaction over wait times for appointments, which is an easy focus. More than 85% of patients reported top marks for their mailed patient newsletter, 98% of patients were willing to refer, but “considering everything,” almost 80% did not agree that their fees were reasonable. Uh oh! Warning bells. This result is exactly why it is so important to continually improve the way we interact with clients and continue to reinforce our value proposition.
At Patient News, we love Dov Seidman’s best-selling book HOW: Why HOW we do anything means everything. Behavior, Dov says, matters more than ever, and in ways it never has before. The word “outbehave” is not in the dictionary, but he is determined to get it there. To succeed, we need to outbehave 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? You know and I know if 10% of your engaged patients know you charge more, then all of your patients know you charge more … and that will continually tick away at your revenue unless you educate patients on the “why” and make sure you’re outbehaving your competition. Inform patients about your unique attributes, provide value-added support that other dental practices in your community do not, share what makes your practice the one patients should continue to choose. Earn the right to retain their business and you will increase patient satisfaction and engagement levels.
Companies lose 50% of customers every 5 years. That’s a sad fact, and one that can probably be diminished by providing excellent customer service. So how do we take this information and ramp up customer service in a dental office? Marketing will not make a difference if the practice staff doesn’t provide excellent customer service. We’ve learned a lot through PNP’s Call Tracker. Based on listening to a huge variety of incoming patient calls, we know that every dental practice has the ability to evolve their skills, improve customer service, and increase patient loyalty … which equates to much more revenue. Incorporate soft touches in your customer service approach. These are contacts with your patients that have a relationship-building goal rather than a transactional objective. Holidays are a great time to reach out with a kind message that doesn’t ask for a return.
Patient News can help you with effective educational patient newsletters, insightful patient survey analysis, and more. In fact, if you don’t have a plan for your holiday cards, up the patient value with a beautiful, personalized, and educational holiday campaign from PNP. Fast and easy for you, it will allow you to approach your patient relationships in a new positive way, earning patient respect, and developing a feeling of reciprocity between them and your practice. At Patient News we strive to continually put ideas, solutions, and principles in customer service to work for our clients.
In the meantime, what else can you do? Your team must have excellent product knowledge and in addition, must also understand how to take a 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 outbehaving. The truth is it is simply not good enough to answer questions.
In order to provide excellent service you must go beyond product knowledge and into enthusiasm. 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. At your next huddle, ask your team what they feel your practice does better than the competition … you might be surprised and it could provide you with great information for servicing improvements and more effective marketing messaging.
Follow-up touches with patients when they are out of your office can be extremely impactful. High-value patient communications are an essential component of your exceptional customer service plan. What type of effort will demonstrate that you have actually made an effort? My niece recently identified an interesting viewpoint relating to communication and effort. One grandma sends her regular emails, the other sends 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.
So just like the patient survey that started my thought for this blog, of all consumer surveys we have completed through our Patient News patient newsletter program since 1995, on average 85% of patients surveyed report enjoying receiving and reading their PNP dental patient newsletter. For an investment of less than a $1 per patient, you may want to consider the impact your own customized, personalized, and mailed patient newsletter could have with your patients – and on your practice revenue! Here’s a few tidbits that my client service team shared on the effectiveness of their patient directed newsletters … Mills & Shannon Dentistry received 1% response to their whitening offer in the first month - 14 calls … Dr. Shockley loves the quality and reach allowing them to connect personally and educate … Dr. Yick had an overwhelming response to their story about changing lives in Ethiopia … Dr. Ostroth raised over $8000 for charity as a result of their newsletter mailing … patient referrals increase 10-20% after each newsletter mailing without fail.
How are you going to scale your value to patients? And then, how are they 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. Right now we have holiday greetings ready to go for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, and more! We’ll save you time and money, and elevate your practice reputation. Call for details!