Have we lost the art of customer service?

Whether we call it patient service or customer service as a dental practice it doesn’t really matter. There are some very simple ways to deliver great service to your patients that have no expense attached to them. Dental offices have lost some of these services during the pandemic. It is time to review them and see if any of these attributes are missing in your practice. Patients never really know if you are delivering quality dentistry or not (unless their tooth is hurting) but they do know how you make them feel when they are in your office.

Here are some great characteristics of customer service in a dental practice:

  1.  Dental offices take for granted their own knowledge, very often not realizing that “dental speak” is a foreign language to most patients. Be patient and clear when describing anything in a dental practice when replying to a patient query.
  1. Engaging patients in a way that is convenient for them, whether by phone call, email or text ask your patients their preference and be able to provide it to them.
  1. Do what you say you’re are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. If you or a team member says that the office will get back to the patient with an answer, put a timeline on it. If the timeline expires then at least get back to the patient by the end of the timeline and say that you are still working on the answer.
  1. Sometimes we have lost the basic art of politeness. You may be amazed if you listen carefully the number of times that “thank you” is dropped from conversation. Your team members may not notice this, but your patients have nothing else to do in the chair except notice your communications skills with team members. When a patient thanks any of your team for any reason, try using the Ritz-Carlton way of responding by saying “my pleasure” it sounds much better than “you are welcome.”
  1. Using your patient’s name when they are in the office. Your admin team should know who should be coming through the front door by looking at the schedule in advance as well who would be exited from a treatment room. A dentist should be checking a patient’s name before they enter a room so that the patient can be greeted by name. 
  1. Your entire team should have the same knowledge about any services in the office. If the patient learns about a crown from a clinical team member, your admin team should be able to describe the procedure in the same way. A consistently communicated message will be very effective with patient acceptance.
  1. Listening to your patient’s concerns and questions is invaluable. Answering their questions before you launch into your explanation of anything in the office. This goes from the patients first contact in the office to book an appointment to delivering a diagnosis for major restorative treatment.
  1. If you have patients waiting in their cars, you will want to always be sure you are running on time. Sitting in a car waiting for an extended period of time will definitely make patients not feel cared for.
  1. Team members should always be endorsing each other. An example of this would be a conversation at the front desk after a hygiene appointment. “How did it go today with Jane?”  “All was good” “Glad to hear that, Jane’s patients really love her” 

Really listen in your office to ensure that all of these points are happening, very often it is assumed that they are but in reality, there is a disconnect. Each and every patient needs to feel well cared for both clinically and service-wise in a dental practice.

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