The Three Magic Principles of Great Patient Service

By October 19, 2018Clinical

Q: My office just returned from a program on customer service. This isn’t the first one we’ve attended, by the way. The problem is that we always leave hyped and enthusiastic and raring to go. But then it fades quickly.

How do I get the staff to provide great patient service EVERY day? 

A: If you’re like most dentists, your practice is focused on making the revenue numbers, not about providing excellent service and making a difference in the lives of your patients. Your head has been filled with consultants and gurus touting numbers, graphs, ratios, reports, and so on. These are important, but they should not be your purpose or mission. It’s like driving a car focused on the dashboard and not the road. Is it any wonder you are getting into so many accidents?

You need to apply three universal principles on a consistent basis in order to shift your practice into high gear around extraordinary patient service. And by consistent, I mean delivered every day. By consistent I mean you, not your staff, must be the ongoing driving intention to make it happen. By consistent, I mean demanding, rigorous, relentless.

Here are the three principles to apply.

In business and in life, you get what you measure. 

Whatever you measure you focus on. 

Whatever you focus on expands. 

You need to come up with meaningful measurements that can assess the service quality you and your staff are providing patients. Here are some examples:

  • How many times did you get your patients to smile today?
  • How many times did your patients say, “Thank you?”
  • How many times did your patients pay you a compliment?
  • What percentage of your patients were seen on time?
  • What percentage of your patients were out on time?
  • How many times did a patient ask how to refer their friends, family or coworkers?
  • How many times did a patient point out a staff person and say something special about them?

Your practice will succeed if the focus and passion is “taking care of patients.” You will see a change when everyone understands that “service” is making a difference in patients’ lives. It’s not just about delivering top of the line dentistry, in a top of the line dental facility, with top of the line equipment and a 32-inch flatscreen TV in each operatory.

So, set up patient relationship measures for each staff person. And then, every morning in your huddle, review the results. Get promises from each staff person about what they will generate from patients that day; i.e. seven smiles, six Thank You’s, two referrals. Beware that these measurements will have a tendency to fade, just like the enthusiasm that was generated after each program on customer service. You’ll need to reinforce them — day after day.

Now the biggest obstacle in improving patient relations may be you, not your staff. You need to be a constant driving force for taking extraordinary care of patients, every day without fail. Staff will follow your lead. So you must devise a measurement for your own relationship to patients as well. You need to put your “tush” on the line as well as your staff’s.

Have your practice be about making a difference for patients, not just their teeth, but in their lives, and it will make a big difference for you and your practice.