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Archive for category: Customer Service

Don’t Let Emergencies Blow Up Your Schedule

Don’t Let Emergencies Blow Up Your Schedule

How many times have you had a near-perfect day crash and burn… because an emergency patient showed up? Your schedule is humming along like a well-oiled machine with every patient being seen on time… until you get the call. It’s Mrs. Jones or Mr. Wilson, and they got a dental emergency.

Shortly after they arrive, there’s a big boom! That’s the sound of your schedule imploding. Moments later, a giant creaking sound… that’s the sound of your customer service system about to give way.

Your team struggles mightily to do what they can, but as the schedule falls more and more behind, your reception area fills up with patients who are waiting and waiting. They become increasingly restless and impatient and frustrated. They glower at their phones, shoot angry glances at the front desk, and a few of them even get into testy exchanges with team members. Some cancel their appointments. Some just walk out… perhaps never to be seen again.

In the span of a few hours, a seemingly great day quickly turned into a practice management nightmare. How can you prevent that from happening again?

Well, here a few things NOT to do:

Don’t tell every emergency patient to come in right away. Big mistake. Not all emergencies are the same. There are emergencies and then there are emergencies. Train your front desk team to triage patients over the phone to assess how urgent the emergency is asking patients questions such as:

  • Are you in extreme pain?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being extreme pain), how would you rate the discomfort you are experiencing?
  • Have you taken anything to relieve the pain? Is that working?

If patients are in extreme pain, then bring them in right away. If they aren’t, you have greater flexibility with scheduling them later in the day.

Don’t take patients back to the operatory and forget about them. Patients in pain are usually extremely anxious, too. The longer they have to wait to be seen, the more time they have to worry unnecessarily about their condition. If you’re going to tell them to come in, make sure you see them as soon as possible. A quick examination followed by palliative care will ease their pain and anxiety. If the practice is extremely busy, tell them a staff member will check on them every 10 or 15 minutes and you’ll be in as soon as possible. Give them an accurate estimate, if that’s possible. These measures reassure patients that they matter and that their care is a priority.

Don’t pretend everything is normal when you are running way behind schedule. One emergency patient, even when the case is well-managed, can wreck the schedule. If that happens, you owe it to your regularly scheduled patients to tell them what’s going on. A simple script such as the following can help: “We’re running a little behind today because Dr. Davis is taking care of a patient with a dental emergency. We apologize for the inconvenience. We expect him to able to see you in X minutes. We understand if that doesn’t work for you and we can reschedule you if you would like.”

When you tell patients what’s going on in the practice, they then then make an informed decision about whether they should continue waiting or reschedule the appointment. That kind of thoughtfulness is appreciated by patients.

Conclusion

Emergencies, by the very nature, are unpredictable. But they can be managed so they don’t blow up your schedule. If you’re making any of the three mistakes detailed above, now’s the time to take corrective action.


Additional Resource

Download a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular Power Cell Scheduling. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga is one of the world’s most recognizable entertainers. In the span of less than a decade, she has become a household name, conquering the worlds of music, fashion and celebrity culture.

Since the release of her debut album The Fame in 2008, she has sold 146 million singles and 27 million albums, appeared on The Simpsons, had a recurring role on the cult TV show American Horror Story, made an album of duets with Tony Bennett, released a perfume, and is scheduled to perform at the 2017 Super Bowl halftime show.

Is there anything a dentist can learn from the woman who once wore a dress made out of meat to an awards show? You bet.

Here are three marketing lessons learned from Lady Gaga that will help you grow your practice:

1) Don’t Settle for What Everyone Else is Doing

Lady Gaga made a name for herself not by copying what others were singing but by creating her own unique blend of pop, dance and rock music.

To stand out in a crowded, competitive field, you have to look for ways to continually WOW patients. You can’t settle for just good customer service, because good isn’t good enough anymore. When you and your team amaze patients with extraordinary customer service, they’ll tell their friends and family about the experience, leading to an increase in referrals and new patients.

2) Brand Your Practice and Sharpen Your Image

What makes your practice different? Do you offer specialized services or a wider range of treatments than other practices? Are you a boutique cosmetic practice? Is your office the only one in the area that treats both children and adults?

What you don’t want to be is a bland generic practice. You don’t have to be outrageous like Lady Gaga, but you do want to be known for something. If you’re not sure what your brand is, make a list of all your practice’s attributes, including any special training or skills that you have. This exercise will help you zero in on your competitive advantages. Also, take a look at the competition––how would you describe those offices? What are they doing well and what not so well? Your answers should reveal additional opportunities for effectively branding your practice and positioning it against competing offices.

3) Inspire Your Fans (Patients)

As of this writing, Lady Gaga is the seventh most popular person on Twitter with 64.6 million followers. Ten years ago, she was a singer in a local band; now, she’s a worldwide media phenomenon. Talent and drive are important to her success, but so is her ability to engage with her fans––in person and online. She often responds directly to fan tweets, which wins her even more followers.

Let me get something out of the way… you’re never going to have a million Twitter followers. That’s OK, neither will I. But you can grow your social media audience by…

  • Fully engaging with your patients (and others) when they’re in your office and online
  • Sharing fun stuff happening in the practice, such as contests and patient appreciation events
  • Making it personal––let patients see your “non-dental” side by posting occasional pictures of your pets, your hobbies and your activities
  • Responding promptly to comments, reviews and suggestions

Conclusion

Lady Gaga has seized on opportunities––both traditional and digital––to grow her audience. In a crowded music field, she has found a way to stand out. She has a unique, recognizable brand identity and she continually engages her fans, directly and indirectly. All of which are good lessons for dentists to follow.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, learn more about our Marketing Consulting Program by clicking here.

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3 Scheduling Mysteries Solved

3 Scheduling Mysteries Solved

There are three mysteries in scheduling that you must clear up immediately, because they can cost practices millions of dollars over the course of a career. The three scheduling mysteries are:

Mystery 1 – No-Shows and Last-Minute Cancellations

These are literally killing you by eviscerating your daily production goals and totals. You want your no-shows and last-minute cancellations—and make no mistake, a last-minute cancellation is as damaging as a no-show—under 1%.

Why do patients so often leave you with an opening that’s impossible to fill? You haven’t taught them to value their appointment.  Here’s a three-step process, based on phone scripts, that will solve this problem. When a patient no-shows, or cancels at the last minute:

  1. Have your scheduling coordinator create demand for the appointment by making the patient wait for a few weeks.
  2. If that doesn’t work, then threaten to charge the patient for the missed appointment (rather than actually charging, waive the fee as a favor, for which the patient will thank you every time).
  3. Put habitual no-show patients on a short list “to fill last-minute openings”… but don’t actually call them. They are money losers as regular patients. By default, whenever they do have a problem, they’ll be your future emergencies and add to production at that point.

Mystery 2 – Dealing With The Late Patient

Even the best patients will be late from time to time. There’s no way around it. Usually, if you don’t see them when they show up, you’ll lose money on the case. It’s far better to squeeze in the offenders as best you can and to stress with patients going forward that they run on time.

For habitually late patients, try this: schedule them 20 minutes earlier than the actual opening. When they show up late, as usual, they’ll actually be on time.

Mystery 3 – Losing 10 Minutes Per Hour

Levin Group has now analyzed thousands of scheduling systems with scientific time studies and found that the vast majority of offices can easily improve performance by 10 minutes per hour. You can achieve this by analyzing the amount of time needed per procedure, delegating responsibilities so the doctor can spend more time chairside, and breaking old, inefficient habits.

The results will be nothing short of incredible. It’s like gaining two extra months of potential doctor production time per year… which, over the course of 24 years, adds 48 months. This is the equivalent of generating an additional two years’ worth of production without working one more minute!


Additional Resource

Download a free excerpt from Dr. Levin’s popular book, Power Cell Scheduling. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Three Things You Can Learn from Lexus

Three Things You Can Learn from Lexus

Do you remember the origin of Lexus?

It was originally promoted as an advanced Toyota, and few people believed it would be able to break into the luxury car market. But there were three things that Lexus did that made it a powerful player:

First, it was an incredible car. Despite the price tag on many expensive cars at that time, they didn’t always operate properly. Just Google “Audi electronic problems” and you’ll see what I mean.

Second, Lexus introduced incredible customer service. Their dealers were the first to provide loaner cars during repairs, vehicle pick-up when necessary and rapid service response.

Third, they made their customers feel special.

Dental patients want more value than ever for the money they’re spending. They have no idea how to judge the dentistry in clinical terms, so they judge it on the basis of customer service. The truth is that most dental teams don’t yet understand that the way to provide incredible service to patients is with a step-by-step business system… not just a set of personalities.

Follow the Lexus method and your practice production will accelerate like a well-tuned luxury car.

Additional Resource

For a better idea of how to drive practice growth with exceptional customer service, read Dr. Levin’s whitepaper, “Stage III Customer Service.”To download it for free, click here and enter the code LEXUS16 at checkout.

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Two Things You Can Learn from Major League Teams

Two Things You Can Learn from Major League Teams

Major league sports is big business. Look at the NFL… a $14 billion-a-year operation with intense fans who keep it growing every year. How do teams manage to reach such high levels of success?

First, they run continual marketing campaigns to sell tickets. They start long before the season begins and create a groundswell of interest. Some fans spend decades on waiting lists in the hope that seats will become available.

Second, major leagues create excitement and enthusiasm among fans. When I met the head of ticket sales for the Baltimore Ravens, I asked him why people (including me) still go to games when they can stay at home and watch comfortably on a big flat screen. He said that it’s all about energy. Part of his job is to ensure that there’s a level of energy at the stadium that makes fans want to be there rather than at home.

Here are the lessons for your practice. First, have excellent, ongoing internal marketing strategies to increase patient referrals and keep new patients coming to your practice. And, second, make sure you and your team have positive attitudes so that, every time patients come in, they experience incredible energy, enthusiasm and excitement.

Additional Resource

Listen to Dr. Levin’s advice about how to use internal marketing strategies to grow your practice in his free 4-minute video, New Rules – Marketing Means Critical Mass. Click here to watch.

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Three Things Dentists Shouldn’t Talk About with Patients

Three Things Dentists Shouldn’t Talk About with Patients

There’s a simple rule to keep you out of trouble when talking with staff members or patients. The rule is: Don’t discuss sex, religion or politics.

The reason is that all three subjects can be controversial, offensive or inappropriate. Comments that you think are interesting or humorous may very well be disturbing to someone else. Each of us has our own cultural and personal standards in these areas, and you risk ruining a practice-patient relationship—not to mention losing a patient, triggering negative social media posts, etc.—if you venture into these taboo topics.

There’s a fine line between an innocent remark and sexual harassment or embarrassment. Don’t take chances. Just skip anything related to sex altogether.

Religion, in its way, can be equally sensitive. There are many different beliefs and levels of intensity. Some people may find your religious comments perfectly acceptable, while others might be offended. Best to avoid this subject altogether.

And then there’s politics. People have become very polarized politically and often dislike it when others disagree with them. If you feel a need to express your views, reserve it for friends, family or cocktail parties… which, of course, could still be dangerous, but at least it won’t cost you patients!

Additional Resource

Learn more about communicating with patients in Dr. Levin’s book, What to Say, What Not to Say. Go here for details, and click the link to read an excerpt.

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What You Can Learn from Football

What You Can Learn from Football

There’s a valuable lesson to be learned from this year’s Super Bowl. (Yes, I know this is a little late, but everybody’s talking about football again after last week’s draft, so here’s my contribution.)

Peyton Manning, an old man by football standards at age 39, did a great job for the Denver Broncos, winning his second Super Bowl and raising the level of respect from football fans.He ended his career with grace, dignity and great sportsmanship.

In contrast, North Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton imploded. He’s an incredible athlete and lost just one game during the regular season, but he didn’t know how to handle defeat on football’s biggest stage. Instead of losing gracefully in a sportsmanlike way, he had a meltdown… not shaking hands with the Denver players and behaving horrifically at the post-game press conference. He earned a reputation as a bad sport that may take years to overcome.

The lesson in this for dental practices is that every doctor and team member should meet the highest standard of behavior every single day. Everyone has an occasional bad day, but in a service business like ours, you can’t let it show. When things go wrong, as they did for Newton, you need to smile and fake it. You owe it to your patients and to each other.


Additional Resource

Watch Dr. Levin’s free video “Working without Drama”

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3 Things about Customer Service

3 Things about Customer Service

Great customer service sets your practice apart from the competition. It motivates patients to keep coming back and it gets them to recommend your practice to people they know.

Here are three things you and your team should be doing:

1) Maintain a positive attitude.

Attitude is everything. It’s how you approach what you do. Don’t fall into the complacency trap of it’s just another day or it’s just another patient. Things won’t always go as planned, but if you can respond positively to challenges, you can get through the toughest of days much more easily.

2) Go the extra mile for all patients.

Most patients would rather be somewhere other than a dental practice. But they have chosen to come to your practice, so you and your team need to treat them like VIPs. That means smiling, extending a warm welcome and making them feel special.

3) Put the care back into oral health care.

You’re treating people––not just their teeth and gums. Put an emphasis on caring and compassion. Many people are nervous about visiting the dentist. Even long-term patients may feel anxious if they have treatment scheduled for something other than hygiene. Do everything you can to put patients at ease. They’ll appreciate it.


 

Additional Resource

For more on this subject, check out Dr. Levin’s whitepaper “What Practices Can Learn from the Ritz-Carlton.

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Up the Enthusiasm

Up the Enthusiasm

I tell my seminar audiences that one of the most important things they need to do to create a better work environment is increase their enthusiasm by 20%. I know this sounds like something you might read on a motivational poster, but until you’ve tried it, don’t knock it.

Simply deciding to raise enthusiasm will make a difference in day-to-day performance. You and your team will be happier and interact better, but most importantly, patients will perceive a higher energy. Energy creates trust, which, ultimately, increases case acceptance.

Give it a try for a week or two and see what happens. You’ll be surprised at the results you get.

Still not on board? Think about it this way… raising your enthusiasm is free––it’s something you can do to immediately improve your practice that doesn’t cost you a dime.

 


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, view Dr. Levin’s free video “How to Impress the New Patient.

Go and get grab your copy now!