Don’t Stumble into the New Year

The turn of the year’s calendar is a good time to reassess where we have been and where we want to go in our life’s work. Here at Concierge Contact Center we are in the process of reviewing how well we met our stated goals for 2017. Reviews like this one are a good measure of our how effective we were at anticipating future needs and issues associated with our operation and just how successful we were at resolving them. The process produces the knowledge we need to know what worked and what did not work, and to set goals of the coming year

For our dentists, we recommend that they take time to review how well their systems are working and doing what is needed to make them better. Surveys are an effective way to take the pulse of the practice. Internal surveys (to yourself and your staff) and external surveys (to your patients) can provide insights that no other tool can give you. You cannot improve a problem if you are not aware of it. Once you start to identify the impediment to progress, you can find multiple sources to help remove it.

Another area that deserves reviewing is the level of loyalty and satisfaction that your practice produces in the patient. Poor customer service is the main reason that patients leave their dental practice, and the corollary to that is that good customer service is why patients stay with their practice. Dentistry has become very competitive and the struggle to get and keep patients is fiercer than ever. Don’t forget that in customer service everything counts: From the furniture and lighting to the little things like the color and style of the assistants’ scrubs. Most importantly are your staff members as kind, polite and professional as they need to be to make your patients want to come back? People change, and every now and then good staff members lose interest in their work. It is uncomfortable for the doctor and the rest of the staff to work with someone who no longer cares about the mission of the office. Sometimes the solution requires the intervention of a consultant who can come in and deal with that person, but ignoring it can kill an otherwise healthy practice.

Another area that needs an annual review relates to the long term goals of the practitioner/practice owner. How are your plans for the future progressing? Is the practice growing as much as you hoped it would be? If so, is it time to take on an associate? What are your goals for retirement and your strategy to reach those goals? Is your marketing program bringing in new patients? If not what do you need to change to achieve better results?

The overall health of a practice can be distilled in one important stat: Are you getting referrals from your existing clients? If you are then you are doing many things right. If you are not, it may be because you have not asked patients for referrals. Many patients do not understand that dental practices are like any other business in that they need a constant stream of new customers to stay healthy and to keep the practice growing. These days it is normal etiquette to ask for referrals and mentioning to clients that you would love the opportunity to serve their friends and family. Putting up a banner or sign for two to three weeks every quarter in front of the office saying “Now accepting new patients” or a version of that, can remind the public that you are there and ready to help them with their oral health.

That brings up a final question about driving referrals: Do you have a program to express your gratitude to your existing patients for their referrals? Of all the marketing efforts you use, the best is the one that thanks your loyal clients for bringing their family and friends into your practice. That they like your office and you enough to entrust their family and friends to your care is huge! Thank them for it!

I have never been one who much believed in new year resolutions in my personal life, but for my business, I absolutely do believe in it. It is a great time to evaluate where your practice is and start making the changes needed to get you where you want to be. Don’t stumble over the same problems that have blocked your progress in 2017, use the new year as a time to move your practice in the direction it needs to go to achieve your goals!

John Ross