What do Starbucks, Apple and dental offices have in common?
Sadly, not enough.
But imagine if your patients thought of your practice the way they think about their favorite coffee shop?
Great Companies Create Great Experiences
It’s all about creating a great patient experience. In the case of Howard Schultz, who built the first modern iteration of the Starbucks we know today, it was about giving customers a reason to linger over their lattes.
“The idea was to create an experience like he experienced in Italy when he went to have coffee in the town,” said Amol Nirgudkar, CEO of Patient Prism. “He wanted to make sure experience mattered. So when it was about experience, it didn’t matter what the price of the coffee was.”
Today, when it comes to dentistry, patient experience doesn’t just start at the front desk, but online. Your “store front” is your digital presence. That’s where patients will find you first, Nirgudkar said.
“They’re sitting there in tooth pain, searching for a dentist who is gentle and compassionate and caring and has good reviews, and you have like nine to 10 seconds before the traffic light turns green to get them to make the decision to call you,” he said.
Paul Jones, Vice President of Client Success for Banyan, which helps practices manage patient experience, said dentists should think like more like Steve Jobs.
“I think it’s about creating experiences you don’t want to throw away,” he said. “I just got the iPhone 8, and I open up my cabinet in my office and its full of the packaging. Who throws Apple packaging away? Why? Because Apple spent so much time thinking about the experience of getting your box, of opening it, of going through this whole thing of getting your iPhone or iPad.”
Your Patient's Experience Starts Online
Dentists need to think about how to extend a great experience all the way from the online presence and into the office.
“Practices that are thinking about this right now are practices that are getting great reviews, are practices that are growing exponentially, and are practices that have really happy patients,” Jones said.
“Because at the end of the day, I don’t know enough about root canals to judge you as a dentist. But I know how you treated me.
"For dental offices that are able to figure that process out … those are the ones that are doing very well.”
Nikki Rasmussen, former Vice President of Development at Banyan, said the key is making the patient experience consistent.
“Put yourself in their shoes,” said Rasmussen. People are researching your practice online before they make the decision to call. They want to see a consistent message of excellent quality across Google reviews, Facebook, the office website, et cetera. “If there’s a break in that consistency, you instantly lose trust.”
Maintaining that consistency shows up in the results, Jones said.
“What changes is treatment — treatment gets better,” he said.
“Case acceptance increases. Your staff are a lot happier. It all boils down to . . . when you focus on patient experience, everyone benefits.”
So how can you be consistent year-over-year in a way that will affect your business?
“It starts at the bottom, in building a very good staff that can connect with patients,” and then you’ll begin to see a circle of benefits, Jones said.
The positive online reviews and comments will motivate your staff, strengthening employee retention and promoting even better experiences in the future.
Do that and you’re now translating the patient experience into your team’s experience.
“Let’s talk Millennials,” said Jones. “Millennials will take a lower-paying job if they feel like they’re contributing, that they’re actualizing themselves in some way, And with the turnover that’s in health care, you know, 20 or 25 percent, you’re often dealing with a younger generation. They went into health care for a reason.”
To help people.
“If we start taking the time for patient experience, then all of a sudden my self-identity as a provider changes,” Jones said. “And I realize that I am giving a good service. And I love coming to work every day.”
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