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CharlesCrawford

Are your employees driving away your patients?

3/9/2014 8:00:00 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 2314

For a dental business to succeed, a lot of things need to go the right way, but just a single customer service misstep is all it takes to permanently ruin a reputation.

Everyone who spent any time in the dental industry knows very well that some patients can be really difficult at times and that receptionists and customer representatives have a very hard job to do. Most of the patients are busy people who are visiting dentist’s office in between other commitments and some of them could be in pain or stressed out from dental problems, so they sometimes behave in demanding fashion and refuse to be patient. It is impossible to meet each and every demand, but patients always need to be treated as paying customers that they are, with full respect and dedication they deserve.

As medical professionals, dentists are usually focused on the essential part of their career, making sure that each dental procedure is performed safely and according to highest standards. Scheduling appointments and handling day-to-day communication is usually not something that doctors spend a lot of time thinking about, so it is quite possible that mistakes in this area can go unnoticed. However, patients never fail to detect when customer service is not at its best, since this is the first thing they encounter when they try to contact a dentist. If a person is left on hold for a minute too long, the doctor may never even get a chance to show off his craft.

All dentists have to deal with customer service issues so many times this task falls on a single person, a front desk employee or even a nurse who has other duties as well. Understaffing can be very dangerous in this case, since poor communication with existing and potential patients can be very costly for the financial future of the company. Hiring another employee, or even a part-time assistant, could actually be a shortcut to improving customer relations and retaining a larger percentage of patients than before, more than making up for the extra expense on salaries.

New employees also need to be properly trained how to communicate with patients and how to resolve certain situations. The atmosphere of a dental office is unique and the manager and/or doctors should always make sure their workers fully understand the environment they are in. Wishes of the patients must always be treated as important, even when they can’t be immediately granted, since the customer needs a solution and not an explanation why something can’t be done. Instead of rejecting the requests, customer service employees working in the dental profession must find a workable compromise that takes into account how urgent is the intervention the patient needs. While aesthetic procedures can probably be rescheduled for another day, emergency patients must be squeezed into the available time slots as soon as possible. An emergency dentist in Reston, Virginia, for example, would always be prepared for any situation. The key is to train employees to always remain calm and polite, helping the patients cope with their anxiety.

In addition to adequate employee training, dental organizations can also benefit from software tools that enable easy scheduling and precise billing, since these are the issues most likely to become the subject of patient’s dissatisfaction. Software can be used to keep track of patient’s medical history, as well as details about his practical preferences, thus creating a firm quantitative framework that enables employees to do a better job. Technology of this kind is fairly simple to use, so there is no need to hire a computer expert to enter the appointments into an interactive database. Quite the opposite, the software should make existing workforce much more effective and help them save a lot of valuable time on routine tasks, thus making them better prepared to manage difficult requests.

Putting an exact number on losses incurred through substandard customer service can be tricky, but it is safe to assume that any dental organization has some room for improvement. Paying attention to customer satisfaction needs to become a part of company philosophy that is actively encouraged during staff meetings and enforced in practice. Receptionists and customer service professionals rarely make a deliberate decision to ignore the patients, but they may need to be reminded to keep a smile on their face at all times. When the entire office works in unison to make the customers happy during each visit and each phone call, the results are sure to follow soon after, with an increasing number of patients coming back for another appointment and eventually turning into regulars.

 

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