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The Truth About Customer Service
Posted: 12/6/2019


The Truth About Customer Service

By Roger Levin, DDS 

What’s the truth about how companies handle customer service? Well, it all depends on who you ask. If you ask most businesses, they will tell you that they have excellent customer service even though they have no data or feedback to back up their claim. If you ask customers, they often rank the customer service of businesses far lower than the business ranks itself. Patients aren’t necessarily saying that customer service is bad. They’re simply saying it’s not as good as the ranking most dental practices give themselves.

What I do know is this undisputable truth: customer service is critical to dentistry.  Why? Because in order to acquire and retain patients, customer service must be excellent. However, when patients are ranking customer service levels 25% lower than the dental office is, something must change.  

Why Bother Having a Customer Service Program?

Customer service is one of the most talked about but least acted upon business concepts. I find this absolutely mindboggling. Customer service is without question the foundation for success of all service businesses including dentistry.  In fact, it’s most likely that 98% of dental practices rely on customer service as a baseline for acquiring and maintaining patients.

If all customer service was generally equal and patients could select their offices based on nothing more than the skill level of the doctor, customer service would be a non-factor. But in reality, patients are far better at evaluating how they are being treated than how good their treatment is. In other words, patients’ opinion of the quality of care will be determined more by how they are treated as people than their understanding of clinical dentistry.

Once you understand that your clinical dentistry will be evaluated based on your level of customer service, you’ll see that customer service must be at a high-level. Now the question becomes “Is my customer service high-level?”

How Does Your Customer Service Rank?

The trap that many practices fall into is focusing most, if not all, of their energies on administrative tasks and clinical treatment. Take a look at your front desk. Most front desk people focus heavily on moving a patient through the appointment process. And while scheduling appointments, collecting money, and dealing with dental insurance are all very important tasks, focusing on them so strongly creates missed opportunities.  A front desk staff that puts these tasks above all else will find it difficult to devote much time to building relationships and advancing customer service through a consistent process. Every practice should ask these critical questions:

·       Is there a standard greeting for every patient letting them know how glad you are to see them?

·       When meeting patients, does the team smile, shake hands, and talk with them and ask about different aspects of their lives?

·       Does the front desk person view each patient as a guest in their home and act accordingly?

·       Does the front desk person ask every patient if there’s anything they can do to make them more comfortable?

For those reading this article, most of the answers to the above questions will be yes even if it’s not true. I have presented approximately 80 lectures per year since the 1980s and when I ask audiences if they live up to this level of customer service, almost all of the hands in the rooms go up. Yet, as the CEO of a consulting firm that has counseled more than 30,000 practices, I can assure you that this is an over-estimation of their customer service. Keep in mind that I am not suggesting that all customer service that does not fit this mold is bad. I am merely suggesting that most customer service is not as good as the dental practice may think.

The main goal of customer service is to never lose a patient. In reality, patients will be lost but, far too many are lost for the wrong reasons. Many experts will tell you that most patients are lost when they have issues with customer service, especially when customer service is not at the highest level. When the dental practice’s customer service is only average or slightly above average, there is a greater danger of patients leaving if their insurance is not accepted, the hours aren’t convenient, they get off schedule, or they are exposed to another practice. It is not that they want to leave the practice or had a bad experience. It is simply that they are not loyal to the practice because customer service was not at a level that created strong bond.

Summary

Practices that have exceptional customer service are better able to build strong patient loyalty and set themselves apart from other practices. As a service business, a dental practice can compete more effectively by building a culture of doing whatever it takes to not only satisfy but also, to manage and exceed the expectations of every patient.

 
 
Dr. Roger Levin

 

Roger P. Levin, DDS is the CEO and Founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world.

To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit www.levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com.

 

Dr. Levin will speak at the 108th Thomas P. Hinman Dental Meeting, March 19-21, 2020. 

 
 




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