20 ways to overdeliver to your patients

2016 08 02 13 43 19 561 Geier Jay 400

In a recent column, I discussed the importance of dentists thinking like retailers and patients being consumer-minded. Today I want to expand on that with ways a retail-minded dentist can hit the customer service ball out of the park for their patients.

Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.Jay Geier is the president and founder of the Scheduling Institute.

The practice of the future is patient-centric. If you aren't constantly seeking new ways to create an unforgettable experience for your patients, your patients will find a practice that does.

That being said, it's easy to think you have a highly patient-centric practice when you really don't. So, consider this, patient-centric practices put the patient first always -- even when it's less convenient for the doctor and the team. Patient-centric practices roll out the red carpet to make every patient who walks in the door feel like royalty.

So, is your practice truly patient-centric? Do you and your team consistently provide more for the patient than the patient pays for? Or do you need to reassess and make some changes?

I asked a few of my clients to send me a list of ways that they like to overdeliver to their patients. Here are 20 ideas that you can implement tomorrow to improve your patient-centric experience.

20 ideas your patients will love

  1. Walk patients to their car with an umbrella when it's raining. Or be sure to have umbrellas (with your logo printed on them) on hand to give and gift your patients as they leave.
  2. Conduct a personal check-in call from the doctor to the patient after a big procedure. This is a huge opportunity to create or nurture a relationship with the patient, and it significantly affects patient loyalty (think retention and referrals).
  3. Have a snack and beverage center in the waiting room that is inviting and easily accessible for patients and their waiting guests. When patients check in, be sure to remind them to enjoy it.
  4. Actively listen to patients to pick up on opportunities to provide a spontaneous, personal gift -- something a team member can go get and have waiting for the patient after a long procedure.
  5. Offer complimentary valet parking (no tipping allowed).
  6. Provide a comfort menu with spa amenities. This can be as simple as a heated neck pillow, blanket, essential oils, or sleep masks, or it can be more complex, such as a paraffin treatment or massage. Make sure this "menu" is promoted and clearly visible in the waiting area.
  7. Provide charging stations and iPads for use in the waiting room. Offer free Wi-Fi and make sure the password is easily accessible to patients.
  8. Create reserved parking for VIPs and new patients.
  9. Be on time. Better yet, if patients arrive early and you can get started, take them in and don't let appointments run over unnecessarily. And if they do, be sure to have your patient coordinator call other patients who may be affected by the delay to let them know.
  10. Send personal cards for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, and have the cards signed by you and your team. Provide patients a coupon or special discount as a gift and referral cards to give their friends.
  11. Offer a gift card such as a Starbucks card or something similar for anyone who reviews your office on Yelp or Facebook during their appointment. And be sure to respond to the reviews -- positive or negative -- to show you are engaged with your patients.
  12. Personally call in prescriptions for patients to their pharmacy during their appointment to have it ready for them to pickup on their way home.
  13. Scrape icy windshields off in the winter right before patients are ready to leave (some offices even offer to start and warm up their cars for them, too). Or, like umbrellas, have scrapers available to give and gift.
  14. Have lunch ordered and delivered for patients coming in during their lunch hour or staying for same-day treatment.
  15. Deliver cake or cupcakes to your patients at work (huge referral opportunity).
  16. Bring in someone to do car washes for your patients during their appointments. Some practices even offer autodetailing options for VIP patients.
  17. Have a babysitter or kids' corner available for patients with kids who need to get long procedures done.
  18. Offer taxi or transportation service for patients who can't drive or don't have transportation. One pediatric office sends a bus to pick kids up for appointments after school!
  19. Open the door for every patient who walks in and out of your office. Some offices even wait outside and greet new patients while holding a sign with their name on it to welcome them.
  20. Say what you'll do and do what you say. Be clear, consistent, and sincere in your communication, and be sure to follow up on any promises you or your team make.

Jay Geier is the founder and owner of the Scheduling Institute, a dental training and practice consulting company. Visit www.5starchallenge.com to find out how to transform your practice from self-centric to patient-centric and be more successful.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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