By Roger P. Levin, DDS
After you’ve been a practice leader for a number of years, it becomes clear that your best referral source is your patients. Getting patient referrals is an inexpensive and relatively easy way to ensure that your practice has a steady stream of new patients. So what will get patients raving about your practice? From the time a patient walks in the door until they leave, you have the opportunity to impress them and make them feel great. Dentistry is a service industry and how you treat patients is crucial to your success. But providing great customer service isn’t just simply about being nice. In fact, you should start to view customer service as a management system that has a process with clear objectives, which include increasing referrals from current patients.
Your Customer Service System
Providing incredible customer service means exceeding patient expectations day in and day out. The patient experience must be so positive that patients will talk about the practice, promoting it even, without even noticing. How can you ensure that all of your patients have an excellent experience? By creating step-by-step processes that are part of an overall customer service system carried out by you and your team. Follow these steps to build a great customer service system:
- Greet Patients Warmly. Provide an enthusiastic greeting for every patient who comes in the office. With every new greeting you’ll be building on your relationship with the patient and making it stronger.
- Get Personal. During every appointment, learn one new thing about each patient and record this information in their profile. Use this information to connect with your patients, make meaningful conversation, and show them that they are more than just a set of teeth. In addition, don’t forget to ask patients if they’re okay or if there is anything you can do to make them more comfortable.
- Say “Thank You.” Take time at the end of each appointment to talk with patients, ask them if they have any questions, and encourage them to contact the office if there’s anything that they want to know or you can do for them. Above all, remember to thank them for making your practice their dental home.
- Ask for Referrals. Your best customer service efforts will all be for naught if you don’t ask patients for their referrals. Let patients know that you enjoy having patients like them and politely remind them how much you appreciate their referrals. Whenever you correspond with patients, include commentary such as “thank you for your trust and referrals” or “we appreciate referrals and having patients like you.”
While your bread and butter is great clinical care, that won’t be what your patients remember. Incredible customer service not only helps you retain current patients, but it can also help you gain new ones. Use these steps to build a great customer service system for increased referrals.
ROGER P. LEVIN, DDS is a third-generation general dentist and the Founder and CEO of Levin Group, Inc., a dental management consulting firm that has worked with over 26,000 dentists. Dr. Levin, an internationally-known dental practice management speaker has written 65 books and over 4,300 articles. He is also the Executive Founder of Dental Business Study Clubs – Dentistry’s only All-Business Study Clubs, the next generation of dental business education. www.dbsclubs.com