By John Ross
What drives referral numbers? The best way of growing a practice is from referrals brought to the practice from existing patients that love your practice and want to share a good thing with others. It is human nature to want to give something nice to others, and a good dentist is a huge gift.
A nice, attractive office with a highly visible location and good parking is just the beginning. A clean waiting room with amenities and comfortable furniture are a must. Tasteful colors, fabrics, modern lighting throughout the entire office are surprisingly important to new clients. However, we all know it comes down to the staff of the front office and in the back.
This is probably where most offices lose their potential referrals. Think about it! If you are coming into a place to spend your money, you deserve some kindness, care and respect. Case in point: when the new referral calls the office, was the referred person sincerely welcomed, or coldly processed? “What’s your name? Address? Best number to reach you? Insurance policy number?” As a consultant, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the front office treat a new patient like a criminal who is given the third degree.
Untrained front office employees tend to look at their jobs as data collectors. They don’t feel invested in the practice enough to go beyond the minimum effort. With a few recorded test calls, a good consultant and identify the “who?” and the “why?” your office is not gaining in new patients from referrals. The smart consultant does not use this information to bully or intimidate the staff, but instead, to find the right ways to train the employee to be better at customer service.
I know everyone is tired of hearing that the future success of 21st Century businesses will be based heavily on quality customer service skills, but it is true. The flow of online information has now put the power in the hands of the buyer and not the seller. Great businesses like the Ritz-Carton Hotel, Disney Company and Chik-fil-A have long understood that good customer service is not an attitude, but a way of living. They have taught their workers the joy of serving others, of treating others with dignity and appreciation. One has to but read the Ritz-Carlton Credo to see how this quality is the hinge-pin of their entire operation:
The Credo The Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission. We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience. The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests.
Think about it. To stay in the New York City Ritz with a view of Central Park costs a little under $1000 per night. Sounds like a lot, right? but since check-in is 3:00 pm and check-out is 11:00 am, their staff takes care of each client for 20 hours, which comes to around $50 per hour. As a dentist, you can make $200, $300 from one patient or more for one hour’s work, so isn’t it logical that you patient deserves all the appreciation, goodwill and care that you and your staff can give?
Train your employees to respond to your patients on the phone, in the front office and in the chair with consideration, kindness and respect, and you will be on your way to more customer referrals. At Concierge Contact Center, we teach your office to treat all your patients like a million bucks. The return on the investment is priceless: loyal patients who are proud to refer you to their friends.