On occasion, I will invite guests to write a blog post. Today, I have invited Mary Beth Bajornas (www.DentalSupportSpecialties.com) to share her perspective on dental customer service. Mary Beth is an awesome resource and I’m happy to introduce her to you! Keep Smiling!
Customer service sure seems dead, doesn’t it? Customer service, GOOD customer service to me, is being able to positively connect with a service or care provider when I need them, be treated with kindness and respect and have my needs taken care of promptly with no hassles.
How many times have you called a service provider during normal business hours and been treated to the following?
A) Be greeted by voicemail that lets you know your call will be returned within 48 hours (and then your call never gets returned)
B) Be greeted by an automated system that makes you jump through hoops with a prompting system for 60 seconds before you hear the information you need – you know – If you need Bob, press 1, if you have an account question press 2, If you need Sue, press 8 etc. Those drive me nuts!!
C) Be greeted by the most unenthusiastic, nasty person who insists on condescendingly calling you “ma’am” instead of your name( even though you just told her your name) and who could care less what your needs are
D) Not have your call answered at all
E) Be greeted by someone who doesn’t have a clue what your needs are and needs to have someone else call you back or transfers you to three other people only to be dumped in a voicemail system anyways
F) Be told by an answering machine that the office is currently out to lunch and to please call back at 1:30 (this seriously annoys me) Nothing like saying my lunch is more important that you. We all need to eat, yes, but stagger those lunch hours!
I bet the above happens more often than actually getting a competent, kind and caring individual who uses your name and promptly handles your needs.
Nothing and I mean NOTHING compares to a warm, friendly greeting from a real live person who answers the phone with the intent of creating a relationship.
With all of this being said, it is crucial to provide 40 hours week phone availability to your patients; keeping connected with your patients when they are looking for you. Be the office that is available, be the office that goes over and above the call of great patient care, and you‘ll be the office that has a full schedule. (In my opinion, after hours and weekend phone coverage really only needs to be provided for emergency care – those are usually the only people calling during those times so save your money and put it into providing 40 hour a week care during normal business hours!)
We all know that scheduling is based on emotion. When someone, let’s say a new patient or even that patient who finally bit the bullet to schedule that crown on #2 that is finally starting to bother them, picks up a phone to finally schedule a dental appointment, they want someone to help them commit to it NOW, at their convenience, while that emotion is hot. Let them get an answering machine and they might just dial the next dental practice in the phone book, or take it as a sign they aren’t supposed to go to a dentist just yet and put it on the back burner.
If you provide the average of 28 hours of phone coverage a week, what opportunities are you missing out on the other 12? I can guarantee you quite a few. How many times do you come in after a day off to a voicemail box full of cancellations or appointment adjustment requests? Having appropriate phone coverage can intercept these cancellations, and get them rescheduled to keep them on the schedule somewhere. One of our most recent clients was a bit skeptical of the necessity of providing phone support on their off days but decided to give us a whirl. The first day we handled over 78 phones calls and put over $3,000 on their schedule. That was 78 phone calls that their front desk did not have to come in and handle the next day, not to mention the next 2 days appointments were confirmed, holes filled and 3 emergencies routed with care. How would that feel to you and your team?
Provide over the top phone care and they will feel secure in knowing that they can expect the same for their dental care. This means answering the phone with a smile and a warm greeting, listening to the patient and hearing their needs. They are calling your office because they need something. Discover that need, fill it, and they will be your patient for life.
Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and remember how it feels to not be able to communicate when you need to, or not get an answer when you want to. Listen to how your phones are being answered and ask yourself if the welcome greeting truly reflects how you wish your practice to be seen. Welcome new patients, intercept those cancellations and be there for emergency care.
You’ll be glad you did when you see an immediate difference in your schedule and production! Don’t be like the rest. Be the best of the best. Don’t let customer service be a dying notion in your dental practice. Set a new standard for it!