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You Will Win the Dental Game When You Consistently Provide Excellent Service

Yes, you can win the dental game, despite the competition you may feel with corporate dentistry (which, by the way, is not the devil) and the pressure you may feel from insurance companies.

There are three magic words that, if applied consistently, will win the game: provide excellent service.

The truth is, corporate dentistry and insurance companies have helped turn the dental industry into a conversation about commodity and price.

It's simple, if I am comparing two services side by side and I can’t tell one from the other, I am going to choose based on price. Any smart consumer would do that.

Recently, I had a business manager ask if their practice should consider becoming a preferred provider for a large insurance company. She explained, “I had a patient tell me that they were going to go to another practice because we’re not a provider in their plan and they could not justify the difference in additional out of network expense.” As you can imagine, the business manager was distraught and felt pressured to join the insurance company network. However, I explained, what the patient is really telling you is that she doesn’t see the additional value of coming to your practice and as such, is now looking strictly at the price.

The patient doesn’t understand the difference in quality of materials and advanced technology you offer, to them, it’s all the same. You’ve got to help them differentiate product offerings and assess value. In addition, you must provide service, care and human connection typically not provided at a lower cost provider practice.

In addition, when you consistently provide excellent service to your patients, you will not only win the dental game, but you will feel fulfilled as a healthcare provider at the same time.

There are three components to providing excellent service.

Win the Dental Game by Choosing the Best Patients
I’ve written about how important it is to surround yourself with A-level team players on your staff, and the same basic principles apply to your patients.

Part of providing excellent service is understanding that your offering is not for everyone. “You are not for all markets,” as Shakespeare says!

Now, this isn’t a bad thing. You started your practice so you could provide health care and guidance to people who value their oral health, who are willing to take time out of their day a few times a year to see a dentist, and yes, who are willing to pay for the service because they understand how important it is.

Your practice was not built to cater to patients who have a problem with paying their bill or for patients who don’t see why dentistry is important or refuse to arrive to their appointments on time.

What does this mean in terms of providing excellent service?

Corporate dentistry attracts discount-hunters with their $47 cleaning and exam coupons. Their prices are incredibly low because they purchase materials wholesale and their dentists work long, after-work hours.

You will win this game when you understand the value of your service, you can clearly communicate this value to your patient when she is sitting in the chair, and you politely decline a request for a discount. You know what it costs to run your business, and you also acknowledge that dentistry is so important that it is worth paying $130 for an exam instead of $47 to have the best possible staff members.

You are looking for patients who want the best dental health care available and when you find them, they will love you for it and stay loyal to your practice.

Win the Dental Game by Asking Deep Questions
When I work with my clients, I talk to them about creating “Magic Moments” and “Wow Experiences” for their patients. These are the moments that make the patient think, “Wow, I really made the right choice with this dentist. I would drive all the way across town to have him clean and care for my teeth.”

These moments occur when you create a connection with your patient through Values Questions. These are questions to ask the patient when you’re speaking with them during or before the exam so you can better understand what exactly they’re looking for in their dental health.

A “Wow Experience” comes when the patient feels heard, understood and important.
For instance, if I have a 45-year-old man sitting in the chair, I’ll ask him why he came in today. The conversation might go something like this...

Patient: I’m just here for my regular cleaning.
Me: I see. Why is it important to you to come in regularly?
Patient: I want my teeth to look nice.
Me: Oh, okay. That’s great, we can certainly help with that. Is there a particular reason you want your teeth to look nice?
Patient: Well, actually... I’m recently divorced and I just started dating again. I’d really like to feel confident about asking women out to dinner with me.

Now, not only do I have a clearer sense of what this patient wants out of his visit (to feel more confident in his dating life), but I have also created a human connection with him. I know that since he’s willing to open up to me about his life, he’ll feel more trusting and comfortable with me moving forward.

This is important if I need to have a difficult conversation with him during the exam, for instance, if I need to tell him that he is in the early stages of periodontal disease and his breath smells. He is more likely to take action to resolve the issue if he feels that he can trust me.

Values Questions can become very challenging when it’s time to talk to a patient about topics like sexually transmitted infections that affect the mouth. However, it is vital that you find a way to address these issues with your patients: their health is at stake, and they’re trusting you to look out for them.

Win the Dental Game with Top-Level Service
This category is saved for last because in many ways it is considered a given but is often overlooked.

In every aspect of your business, whether it is the way the receptionist answers the phone or the way your waiting room looks, you must always strive for top-level service. Premium, top-level service isn’t just about taking care of someone’s teeth; it’s about taking care of them as a whole. Customer service is absolutely an important part of the game.

Imagine you’re a busy working professional in Corporate America. Your job is very important to you, but so is your dental health. Today, you’ve requested 90 minutes off from work to visit your dentist: 15 minutes to drive to the dental office, 60 minutes for the exam and cleaning, and 15 minutes to return to work. Maybe you’ll even have time to take a walk around the block before getting back to your desk.

You leave work right on time and arrive at your appointment 3 minutes early. You check in with the front desk and sit down to read a magazine in the reception area.

15 minutes go by and you haven’t been called yet, although you watched another patient go back. 20 minutes go by and you glance at your watch, starting to wonder if they’ve forgotten you.

Finally, 23 minutes after your appointment was supposed to begin, you are called for your cleaning. By the time the appointment is finished you’re already late back to work and you have to explain to your boss why you’re tardy.

Would you go back to the same dental office after that?

Maybe you would after one infraction, but a second, or third? Probably not.

Details like timeliness, cleanliness and friendliness are important to your patients; they feel as though they are investing good money and good time into your service, and they want to get something of equal value in return.

Consumers these days are smart. They know where to find reviews online of services and products, they know how much they should be paying, and they aren’t shy about sharing a bad experience.

However, you can win the dental game if you consistently strive for the very best. It’s a conversation about excellence. It’s about taking personal responsibility and being accountable. It’s about having passion and vision and making a difference.

And by the way? I expect my doctors to make ridiculous amounts of money. Not at the expense of anyone – but because they treated everyone right.

If you’re willing to get in this game and fight this fight, you’re going to get wealthy and rest well knowing you’ve made an incredible impact on the lives of others at the same time. I know you can do it.

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