February 1, 2016
Dental Practices that Focus on Patient EXPERIENCE Will Win in 2016
Above all else, customer experience is driving growth in new startups and businesses willing to reevaluate what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter. The digital revolution means that being the “best”, or the most knowledgeable, or being around longer than your competition comes in second place to how people feel when they work with your dental practice.
At a recent family get-together, one of my family members was arguing that music today comes and goes so quickly that nothing will ever be as memorable as the “classics” from the Stones or the Beatles. Rather than the quality of music today, I think this has a lot more to do with the volume of choices we all have.
…we’ve never had the ability to be so selective, so “choosy” with everything we buy and every service we receive.
Only a few years ago, your musical selection was limited to what was on a handful of radio stations or what the record store had on hand. Now, with services like Spotify and Apple Music, we have billions of choices available at our fingertips and delivered to our ears within seconds.
Local businesses have experienced this digital revolution of choices as well. Want pizza? Sites like Yelp allow me to see every pizza place in town, with their menu, pictures, and reviews. Even with the Yellow Pages, we’ve never had the ability to be so selective, so “choosy” with everything we buy and every service we receive.
How difficult is it to do business with you?
Not only do patients have the ability to know a lot about you up front, they can also bail on their decision if the purchase process is too difficult. Even minor obstacles will cause them to go back into search mode and look for someone else – which, as we established above, is easier than ever. What barriers are you putting up before they even get to your door?
- Is your online experience mobile optimized?
- Are you easy to find? Is the Google/Apple map correct? Directions?
- Can appointments be booked online or without speaking with someone?
- Do you use technology that your customers or patients are using? Text, email?
- Are people being put on hold or do they have to wait? Do people ever hang up?
- Are you so booked up that you can’t take new business? (note: they won’t wait long.)
- How difficult are you making this?
Would your patients say that working with you and your staff is simple, fast and easy? Do they actually enjoy the experience?
I heard a report on the radio this morning about taxis and rental car services scrambling to revamp their business models because of Uber. For business travelers, Uber is the new norm. I pick it because it’s easy, it’s convenient and the overall experience is usually so much better than getting a taxi.
Taxi apps are terrible to use. Calling a taxi service usually involves waiting on hold or waiting for 20 minutes or more for the taxi to arrive. I have to pay a tip. I don’t trust the meter. I have to pay extra for more passengers. The overall experience stinks. Uber found those holes and for the most part has plugged them.
…user experience matters more to patients than anything else.
Keep in mind, Uber is using non-professional drivers who are sometimes less knowledgeable about the area they’re driving in than cab drivers. But once again, user experience matters more to patients than anything else. Are you annoying your patients?
- Are you located in an inconvenient location for driving, parking, etc?
- Do you have long wait times?
- Is your staff friendly? (Fire or relocate any employee that deals with the public and isn’t friendly.)
- Is paying you easy? Online payments? Payment methods, etc.
- Do people feel they get value? Do they “get their money’s worth”?
- Do you ever “shock” people with their bill?
- Do people leave happy?
Keep business as usual or let the new guys win.
If you’re an established dental practice you need to stop and reevaluate your patient experience. Find your most critical voices and listen to them. Realize that there’s almost always a sliver of truth in negative reviews and that for every one patient that complained, there are 10 more that felt the same and just didn’t say anything.
You cannot afford to rest comfortably believing that you have been around long enough to be the go-to source in your community. If you do, someone who sees your weaknesses will start taking your patients.