Poor Customer Service Might Be Costing You

Heads up! Customer service matters

By Joanne Bishop  |  November 20, 2017

Doctor shaking hand with patient

Are you sure your patient experience is awesome?

Improving customer experience is more important that ever. Did you know it takes twelve positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience?

Or that on average, we’ll tell 9 people about a good service experience AND 16 about a negative one! Almost twice as many listeners!

I had a bad customer service experience with a new dentist a few years ago. I guarantee you I’ve told far more than 16 people about it. In fact, I just retold the story to my team last week. A negative service experience is the type of thing, which when reminded, you tell over and over.

Dentists cannot overlook the importance of customer service and community reputation. The customer service you provide to your patients, particularly new patients, can make or break your production goals.

  • Poor customer service will lead to poor recall percentages – lapsing patients.
  • Poor customer service will impact brand reputation.
  • Poor customer service will result in low call and/or call conversion rates.
  • Poor customer service will lead to low patient referrals rates.
  • And in 2018, poor customer service can lead to very visible online reviews.

Poor reviews will lead to a reduced response to marketing initiatives. It’s a vicious cycle. And it doesn’t get prettier.

Roughly 80% of consumers have not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. These are some of the patients that are sitting quietly in your lapsing or inactive patients category.

On the other hand, 70% of people are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. Do you agree?

I had an amazing customer service experience last weekend.

I had to contact my mobile carrier. I can hear you groaning already! But no – Virgin Mobile rocks. I didn’t chat or email – I called. And I got fast service. Their recording is positive and fun. I got a live person within moments. They took care of my questions faster than I expected. They were very clear – “Can you hold one minute?” – and then only had me on hold for that minute. When a hold was going to take another minute, they came back, right on time, and asked if I had another minute. Then they apologized because I had such a long hold of 2 minutes. This experience surpassed my expectations. It nailed their brand promise.

Happy woman talking on mobile phone

The experience was so superior, it had me racing back to Patient News on Monday to talk to our admin team. How friendly are we when we answer our phones? How quickly are we connecting our clients to their representatives? How positive are we making the experience?

We’ve always been so proud about the comments that we’re a “great company” to work with and our “team is always so friendly and accommodating,” that we work hard to make sure we’re always delivering on that brand promise.

Customers form an impression of your business within 7 seconds of contact.

If you focus on great customer service from the start of your patient engagement, you can avoid wasting marketing dollars.

A dental office has a finite time to impress a client – new or repeat. But being ready for new-patient calls, answering live, solving problems quickly, and being upbeat will increase your new-patient flow. Train for excellent call handling.

Here’s why:

  • 72% of callers who reach voicemail will hang up (and potentially call a competitor) without leaving a message
  • Customers form an impression of your business within 7 seconds of contact. Make sure that first impression is welcoming and not, “Hold please.”
  • Patients who do not schedule with a practice often say it was due to poor call handling service (receptionist was distracted, they felt rushed/not important, the person didn’t listen to them, they were put on hold, etc.).
  • A primary complaint from new patients is, “I couldn’t understand their name or what they were saying.”

Start with training

Good customer service starts with training – we focus on call handling but you control all other aspects.

Is the staff friendly when patients walk in the office? Does the doctor smile and look directly at the patient when talking? (I recall an ortho consult when my daughter was young, the doctor didn’t look at me once, not one glance at my eyes. He didn’t get the case.) Is every hygienist on your team caring and gentle? One visit with a too-rough hygienist or a gossipy one could kill repeat business and referrals. I remember one of our top clients telling me that he had a great new-patient flow from a competing dentist who just couldn’t get billing right. He said you can’t mess with a patient’s bill by $1.

Put the emphasis on great customer service and an exceptional patient experience at every touchpoint and you will earn trust, referrals, and repeat business.

What about unhappy patients?

  • If they’re talking to you, they want your help
  • If they’re explaining concerns, they’re asking for help
  • If they’re complaining, they’re giving you valuable information about potential gaps in servicing
  • For every complaint you receive, 26 people remain silent. Pay attention.

We’re so glad you’ve chosen Patient News to assist you with your dental practice marketing. You’re making a fantastic and positive impression on your team, your patients, and the prospective patients that live around your practice by providing quality educational content. You’re clearly demonstrating your commitment to patient satisfaction.

Something else we can help you with? Determining how exactly your patients feel about your service.

We have an awesome patient satisfaction survey solution. It’s easy and especially impactful when inserted with your custom patient newsletter (and can also be sent as a “standalone”).

Why not talk to your Account Manager and get a patient satisfaction survey out there? 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with your company again!

Don’t hesitate! You have nothing to lose and an incredible amount of market intelligence to gain.