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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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Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Turn Your Facebook Page into a New Patient Generator

Facebook is a missed opportunity for most practices. Dentists don’t know what to do with it. They started a practice page a few years ago and put a lot of initial effort into getting likes, but as time has gone by, the page now sits idle for weeks at a time.

A related scenario is that the practice doesn’t devote any resources to keeping its Facebook page updated. Our consultants have heard something like this many times: The marketing coordinator used to do it, but then she left the practice. Since then, Sheila at the front desk has been pitching in when she’s slow, but it’s been really busy lately. The dentist or the hygienist will throw something up on the Facebook page when they’re feeling inspired. But nobody has posted anything in over a month.

Facebook can be a marketing asset for your practice, but you’ve got to put it to use. Here’s how you can improve the performance of your practice’s Facebook page in four steps:

  1. Have a Consistent Presence – To get the most out of your Facebook page, you should be posting at least three times a week. If you’re only posting a once a month, then you have a “dead” page, which is worse than no page at all. It signals to current and prospective patients that you really don’t care. On the flip side, you don’t want to overwhelm people by posting 10 times a day either. You want to find a right balance. The minimum we recommend to our consulting clients is three times a week. If your office doesn’t have an official Facebook person, appoint one. Usually, it should be the marketing coordinator. If you don’t have a marketing coordinator, talk with your team to see who would be interested, who is the most familiar with Facebook, and who would be proficient at it.
  2. Be More Social – As the name implies, social media should be social. It’s not a one-sided conversation, but rather a dialogue. If all you’re doing is talking about your practice or talking at people, they will tune out. Make it about your patients and your other followers. Respond when they comment. Even if it’s negative, reply. Gather the facts and try to find a mutually agreeable solution. That kind of responsiveness shows that you’re listening and that you care.
  3. Think of Facebook as the technological equivalent of walking around your community, shaking hands, meeting and greeting people, sharing information and stories, and, ultimately, building relationships and rapport. Facebook allows you to do all of this online.

  4. Mix It Up – To engage current and prospective patients, you should post a wide range of interesting and informative content, including:
  5. • Oral health tips

    • Patient contests

    • Open appointment alerts

    • Testimonials

    • Treatment updates – educate patients about the different types of procedures available

    • Service promotions – such as a discount on whitening or the new patient hygiene visit

    • Fun information about staff members, such as hobbies and pets

    In addition, your posts should be visually interesting. Try to include photos and videos with the majority of your posts. They make people want to engage with what you’re saying.

  6. Promote Your Practice – With its demographic database, Facebook makes it easy for you to reach prospective patients through online ads. You can target your audience by age, gender, interests, occupation, geography and other factors. You can spend as much or as little as you want on your campaign. If it’s going well, add more money to it. If it’s not working, turn it off and try a different approach. But compared to other media, such as direct mail, Facebook is incredibly inexpensive. And when done well, it can be extremely effective.

Conclusion

It’s time to turn your practice’s Facebook page into a new patient generator. Use these four strategies to help you attract and win over potential new patients. Make 2017 your best year yet!


Additional Resource

For more on a related subject, watch Dr. Levin’s video “Internal Marketing – The Key to More New Patients” 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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