While doing a podcast interview with Howard Farran earlier this week, he heard me refer to my patients as customers. So…I thought that I would do an article on this topic.
In my practice, we absolutely see our patients as being both patients and customers. The patient aspect is in delivering amazing, consistent dental work that will be strong, look natural and will give long-term peace of mind. The customer aspect is in finding out what our patients are there to “buy”, and giving it to them.
Our patients don't buy crowns, they buy peace of mind knowing that they won't have a tooth break while on vacation. They don't buy Scaling and Root Planing, they buy peace of mind that their teeth will not start to look long or get loose over time.
We developed a system of asking “why”. So if a patient says they don't want braces, we ask them why. Then we find out what their real resistance is and can speak to that.
This concept is really about our perception. It's not about us calling patients customers when we speak to them.
Once we have made a decision to open a dental practice, we are opening a business. Some dentists do not want to become business owners, and that is absolutely fine. However, if you choose to do so, you will have a more successful business if you find out what matters most to your patients, know your numbers, create consistent systems, and only create marketing strategies based on getting the best ROI.
One other good point is that it's never about us; it's about the patient. Although patients can “love” us and our team, if the quality is not good or if you don't respect their time, they will move on to the next dentist that they love.
In my practice, our new patient numbers went from 15-150 by finding out what they want. We did so by asking our long time patients, though post-treatment surveys, as well as by asking our Facebook community.
These were our findings:
1.)People want to be seen on time: Some people don't have a lot of time to wait. What matters most to this group is being seen on time. If they consistently have to wait, they will find dental services elsewhere.
2.)People want peace of mind that their dental work will look natural, be strong, and will be long lasting: This is the group that may be willing to wait forever to see you. What's most important to them is that their denture fits, their smile is beautiful, or that they don't have to keep coming back.
3.) People want a great experience: Many fearful patients fall into this category. What matters most to this group is how you make them feel, and that you have a personal connection with them.
I challenge you to find out what matters most to your patients/customers, and give it to them.