For the majority of folks working in the Dental profession (and most of the business world for that matter), the idea that you cannot work effectively and be productive if play is involved is still a widely accepted belief. I’m not sure about you, but it’s likely that you were brought up the same way I was in this regard: The line that separated work and play clearly defined and plain for all to see. Work as it turned out was to be taken very, very seriously. And while I still believe that work is to be taken seriously, the belief system that says “You cannot work effectively and be productive if you’re playing” is simply no longer true.
As a result of a series of changes in demographics, technology, and the competitive landscape, smart companies, as well as nonprofits, governments (at the national, state and local levels), and (of particular importance to you), Dentists are increasingly turning to play and games as a way of reinventing and transforming everything from their websites and marketing to employee engagement, performance and training.
They are engaging patients and prospective patients as never before, aligning employees, and enjoying results that has been elusive for some (and virtually impossible for most) for the last decade or so. They've realized that their strength is in marshaling the intelligence, motivation, and— most critically— engagement of their communities to drive their practice goals and objectives. The strategy they’re using is called Gamification… that is, implementing design concepts from games, loyalty programs, and behavioral economics to increase new patient appointments, improve case acceptance, elevate production and enhance employee engagement and performance.
The runaway success of gamification— as the data (and the Billions of dollars being invested in USA alone) belies a core concept that is missing from nearly every dental marketing/practice management company’s strategy of the last half-century:
Without employee and patient engagement, the best laid strategies and tactics are doomed to fail.
And while Gamification is just now gaining serious traction in the Dental profession, it’s been percolating beneath the surface of modern business for years. Gartner Group predicts that by 2015, approximately 70 percent of the world’s largest enterprises will be using Gamification, driving 50 percent of all revenue. Moreover, M2 Research expects that U.S. companies alone will be spending $3-$5 BILLION per year on Gamification technologies and services before the end of the decade. These stats become even more impressive once you realize that the term “Gamification” doesn't even appear ranked in Google Trends until 2010.
Before you consider whether or not you will benefit by implementing Gamification strategies across all elements of your practice you must first see (and comprehend) the peril you face by the growing lack of engagement between the Doctor and his/her employees… as well as between the doctor(s), employees, and the marketing/practice management strategies you've been using.
If your practice is like most, your recent past is likely littered with multiple failed marketing projects that died because your employees rejected them. When reviewing the performance of our Clients the line of demarcation between the BIG winners, the “Did good but didn't do as well as they could have” and the “We had little success with this” can be attributed to one specific fact:
100% of the Clients that are found in the last group I mentioned had a practice where the Doctor wasn’t making decisions for his/her practice… the staff was! The Doctor was either afraid to confront the staff and/or didn’t want the responsibility of leadership and responsibility.
On the customer/patient side, the stories are even more dramatic. According to Microsoft Research fellow Chao Liu, the average new visitor to a website will decide whether or not to stay there in 10 seconds or less. And if they make it past 30 seconds, you are lucky to get two whole minutes of their attention.
Prospective new patients (as well as your existing patients) at their desks, driving to the mall, and even sitting in front of their television are getting harder and harder to attract and into your practice for an appointment. Stating the obvious, much of your success depends on getting and keeping the attention of your patients, prospective patients in your community and just as importantly the attention of your employees.
Gabe Zichermann, Chairman of the Gamification Summit, leading expert and author of McGraw Hill’s: The Gamification Revolution: How Leaders Use Gamification Mechanics to Crush the Competition said this in his new book:
“Unfortunately, getting that attention in the first place is becoming increasingly more difficult to accomplish. A 2011 study revealed that four-year-olds who were subjected to fast-paced cartoons over nine -minute intervals had markedly worse executive functioning skills than those who weren't.
Tracey Marks, MD, a leading psychiatrist with a focus on mind-body connection, believes adults may not lose executive function in the same way children do, but this is largely due to their ability to filter out much of the noise.
In other words, all of our filtering of the competing ideas, websites, and projects appearing on our computers, televisions, and mobile devices in our offices and homes, and even during our car rides home, is actually keeping us from connecting with much of what we see. It is increasing our stress and potentially making us dumber.
The trend isn't slowing down, and it is affecting industries across the spectrum —from the civil service to finance, engineering to retail. But there is one industry that seems to be immune to the shattering of focus: GAMES.
While from the outside, games might seem like part of the problem, they are in fact the one place where we are increasingly finding ourselves both connecting and enjoying our connection.”
Facebook reports that players of its site’s games spend an average of $50 a year to play them. A Today’s Gamer Survey from 2010 found that $25.3 billion was spent on game play the previous year, a number that is clearly on the rise. Simultaneously, the amount of leisure time that consumers take has been on the decline, and so has consumption of traditional media.
These trends strongly suggest that games have been cannibalizing other forms of entertainment. If you project these consumption trends forward by 5 to 10 years, it becomes clear that games will soon dominate other forms of entertainment. Unsurprisingly, this dovetails with the rise in economic influence of game-crazed Millennials whose worldview will radically reshape every aspect of work, commerce, civic life, and recreation as we know it.
So it appears that the deck is stacked irretrievably against Dentists who are not capable and/or refuse to embrace strategies that actually work as they cling tightly to “business as usual.” The classic practice management models of engagement will no longer scale in a world dominated by extreme multitasking and increasing numbers of gamelike distractions.
This new environment has conditioned consumers (your patients, prospective patients and employees) to expect heightened rewards, stimulation, and feedback. What excites them today is likely to seem unimaginative and unexciting tomorrow.
How can Dentists possibly reconcile this immense challenge with employee and customer engagement strategies you ask? Finding the answer requires that you accept and embrace these three interrelated and meaningful truths:
- The world will not return to the calm, focused ways of the past. Employee and consumer multitasking is here to stay.
- Engagement is the most valuable resource your employees and patients can give you. Your success or failure in the near future will be based on how much of it you get.
- The best way to beat your competition is to make your employee and patient experience as fun and engaging as possible.
In essence, the solution lies in fighting fire with fire. As the world becomes more gamified— through demographic and cultural trends— your practice must do the same. The deeper this understanding penetrates your marketing and management strategy, the more successful you will be in capturing engagement, remaining profitable and enjoying the practice of Dentistry.
Without engagement, the war is lost before the battle for finding and hiring peak performing employees and achieving & maintaining a dominant position in your market. Gamification presents the best tools the Dental profession (and every other industry on the planet) has ever invented to create and sustain engagement in people.
Zichermann adds: “The world’s best organizations —including Nike, SAP, Pearson, Cisco, United Airlines, Microsoft, Target, Spotify, Siemens, GE , IBM, McDonald’s, and thousands more— are increasingly using these techniques to challenge competitors, reimagine their strategies, deliver unprecedented loyalty, and recruit, retain, and drive exceptional achievers and innovators.”
If you —like Theodor Adorno (and those who still cling to the “old school” belief system about work and play) view games and play as superfluous to the practice of Dentistry (and to the business of Dentistry), it’s time to set aside your fears.
If you have already seen how gaming is changing the landscape of business, it’s time to start applying what you know to improve facets of your Dental practice and/or the Dental Company you own. In light of the overwhelming evidence that can only be avoided by (tongue in cheek) plugging your ears, closing your eyes and saying “Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah…” loudly, you must rethink your practice’s management/marketing strategy from the top down and from the bottom up.
As you’ll see in the FREE White Paper: “How Gamification Can Secure the Future Success and Profitability of Your Practice“ (click the link to access and download the report – no email required), there are practical ways to use these approaches that work in almost any setting.
And while our examples, language, and design patterns are (relatively) new in the Dental Profession, Gamification has been going on for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. It’s a proven approach using breakthroughs in technology and design that will vastly improve your marketing and management strategies and the results they deliver. The future of Dentistry will be found in Gamification… you can quote me on that.
If you would like to know how Gamification of your dental practice management and dental marketing can transform your production and profitability click here to request a FREE Phone Consult with Ken Newhouse.
The Dental Marketing Assistant University also includes has a dedicated training on Gamification "Module #5: Using Gamification to Increase Patient and Employee Engagement