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The Power of Power Words

The Power of Power Words

Everyone learns to talk at an early age. Somehow we think this means we are all excellent speakers. Unfortunately, most of us are just adequate communicators. For dental practices, this is a challenge… because successful interactions with patients depend on clear, effective and positive communication.

Without superior verbal skills, staff members (and dentists) will find it difficult motivating patients to accept treatment, pay bills on time, and refer friends.

For 32 years, Levin Group has educated dentists on the importance of scripting. One key component of effective scripts is something we call power words. When used properly, they create energy. Why is that important? Because energy creates trust. People with high energy are more attractive to others, their energy is contagious, and what they recommend is acted on.

Can You Feel the Power?

What are some power words? Wonderful, excellent, terrific, fantastic, unbelievable, outstanding, delighted are all examples. What’s the most powerful power word? If you guessed power, you would be wrong. The answer is love.

Not love in a romantic sense, but rather from a viewpoint of appreciation. Let’s look at some examples of what I mean…You’ll love the way your new smile looks… You’ll love meeting our dentist and team… You’ll love our new extended hoursYou’ll love meeting our new hygienist.

Don’t believe me. Try adding a few of these phrases to your interactions with patients and see what happens. You’ll love the results. Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.

Power words are a life-changing concept that will attract other people to you and create far better results. As one dentist said recently, “I’m using power words in every aspect of my life, and it amazes me how much nicer people have become.”


Additional Resource

Read a free excerpt from Dr. Roger P. Levin’s book Essential Scripts for Patient Communication. Go here and click on the “Read an Excerpt” button.

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Service with a Shrug?

Service with a Shrug?

I had dinner the other night in a restaurant that came highly recommended. Although the food was excellent, service was very slow. We rarely saw our server, and when we needed anything, I actually had to get up to ask someone to help us. We were told they were having a slight problem in the kitchen.

Under normal circumstances, the slow service might have ruined the evening for me. As it happened, I wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t let it bother me, until…

At the end of the meal, the maître d’ stopped by our table to ask how the evening had been. I said, “Well, since you asked…” and proceeded to calmly explain the problems we had experienced with slow service. His only reply was, “I’m sorry to hear that.” As he walked away, I realized his question was nothing more than a “courtesy.” He had no intention of doing anything about the problem—not even bothering to explain why it happened.

Overcoming Mistakes

I wouldn’t have expected a discount or anything else from the restaurant. We’ve all experienced slow service from time to time. But the maître d’ obviously doesn’t understand one of the cardinal rules of customer service. When you make a mistake (and you will), what matters most is how you recover. Had he simply given me his card and suggested I call ahead next time so he could ensure I had a better experience, I would have walked out happy—and would definitely have taken him up on his offer. Instead, I won’t be returning to that establishment.

A dental practice is a service business, too. When there’s a problem, your response can either make—or break—the relationship. If you pretend nothing happened or give lip service to fixing the problem, there’s a good chance you’ll lose that patient.

If, however, you apologize for the problem and then find a way to make it right, you’ve strengthened the bond between the patient and practice. And that should always be the goal.


Additional Resource

For more on this subject, download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper, “Stage III Customer Service,” by clicking here.

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What You Can Learn From Steve Jobs

What You Can Learn From Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a creative genius… and an amazingly successful businessman. An eccentric, enigmatic figure, he built one of the most valuable companies in the world by thinking differently than others.

One of Steve Jobs’ basic principles was that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. He could figure out what people wanted before they knew it themselves. That’s how he invented the Macintosh, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, iPad, etc. He was successful time and time again because he didn’t sit back waiting for market demand. He created demand.

As a dentist, you can learn a great deal from Steve Jobs. Following his example, you can put together an incredible patient experience. Like it or not, patients have negative feelings about going to the dentist. They’re afraid it will be uncomfortable, maybe even painful. And it can be expensive, too, especially for people who lack good dental insurance coverage. There are many things people would rather spend their time and money on besides dentistry. So where does that leave practices?

Adding the WOW Factor

At the American Dental Association Annual Meeting, I spoke about customer service. My thesis was that patients want to be delighted. You need to WOW each patient by creating an amazing experience. How? By thinking through every moment of a patient’s visit to your office, every aspect of the experience… and making everything delightful. You overcome those built-in negative feelings with a totally positive experience that’s planned, scripted and delivered enthusiastically by you and your team. That’s how to WOW.

As you can see, we capitalize WOW at Levin Group. We do that to show how powerful it is. Our consulting clients outperform their competition because we teach them to use the power of WOW every day, rising above mediocrity with an exceptional patient experience.

I can’t fit our entire customer service training program into this article, but I can tell you that our WOW-powered New Patient Experience consists of literally hundreds of simple, learnable steps any practice can master. With the right guidance, you can impress patients with everything you say and do. They’ll actually look forward to visiting your practice, knowing that they’ll be treated so well they’ll truly value the relationship with you and your team.

Do what Steve Jobs would do. WOW patients by creating an experience that will surprise and delight them. As he demonstrated again and again, it’s smart business.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “Stage III Customer Service” by clicking here.

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Is Scripting Hurting Your Practice?

Is Scripting Hurting Your Practice?

Has your practice been taken over by a bunch of robots? Does it feel like your team is acting mechanically during interactions with patients? Has your customer service recently taken a nosedive?

The culprit could be scripting.

I bet more than a few of you are saying, “Wait a minute, Roger! Aren’t you one of the biggest proponents of scripting in dentistry and now you’re saying it’s bad for my practice?”

OK, before anyone blows a gasket, let’s take a step back just for just a minute…

Scripting is a tool, pure and simple. How it’s used can be good or bad. There’s a big misconception in dentistry that scripts, once created, must be followed word-for-word. When this happens, you get a team operating defensively. They’re afraid they’re going to forget the script… that they’re going to say the wrong thing. They’re so worried about making a mistake that they don’t respond genuinely to patients.

And then what happens when a patient asks a question that’s not in any script? Because, believe me, it will happen. You get a team that doesn’t know how to respond. They have become so dependent on just repeating the same scripted lines over and over that they no longer know how to actually communicate with patients.

The Right Way to Think about Scripting

Instead of being forced to memorize scripts, the staff should be taught to think of them as guides or talking points. Every script always has a goal. For instance, it can be scheduling the new patient or asking for a referral. There are multiple ways to accomplish both of these objectives, and team members should have the flexibility to hit the main points using their own words… as long as the goal is attained.

Role-playing scripts can help all team members to communicate more effectively with patients. It can also give staff the confidence to articulate the scripts in their own conversational manner. Rehearsing different versions of the same situation is another good training technique for stretching the verbal skills of each team member.

Conclusion

Let me set the record straight… Yes, I am still a big proponent of scripting, but its true goal isn’t rote memorization, but rather effective communication. You want to empower your team, not limit them. You want staff members who engage patients and visitors, rather than alienating them. Finally, you want to create a practice culture based on genuine interaction, not forced artificiality.


Additional Resource

Download Dr. Levin’s free whitepaper “Five Ways to Improve Interpersonal Relationships with Patients” by clicking here.

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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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