4 ways to create a Starbucks-style experience

2018 03 14 21 23 0988 Nirgudkar Amol 400

How did Starbucks grow from a small Seattle company into one of the most beloved brands in the world with stores in 75 countries? By focusing on four core values.

And here's the good news. Dentists and practice owners can focus on these same four values to build their own brand and create a patient base of fans who will tell their friends and family about you and keep coming back.

It all comes down to creating an experience that people want to have. Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz understood this. When he joined Starbucks in the 1980s, coffee was a commodity, not a culture. People's choices were limited -- if they had choices. They certainly didn't expect the quality to be great or for the server to know their name.

Changing culture

Amol Nirgudkar, co-founder and CEO of Patient Prism.Amol Nirgudkar, co-founder and CEO of Patient Prism.

Schultz created a coffee empire by delivering "business excellence through a culture of compassion," according to the company's website. He had to change the expectations and create a culture in which people thought a great cup of coffee was worth waiting for and worth savoring once it was purchased.

4 values

Here are four areas that Starbucks focuses on every single day to create an enjoyable experience for everyone who walks through their doors and how they can be applied to dental practices.

1. Focus on quality

Starbucks spent years experimenting with different types of coffee beans and brewing machines, sourcing locally grown ingredients, and building relationships with vendors who demonstrated the same high standards for quality control that Starbucks had.

Dental practices can follow the same model. Ensure each team member is following the same protocol for taking x-rays and impressions and that lab submission forms are complete and accurate. Experiment with dental labs to find the one that delivers the high quality you expect, with a reasonable turnaround time.

2. Focus on service

Starbucks is famous for its customer service. The baristas know their regular customers by name and remember their preferences. Also, the baristas don't roll their eyes when you ask for a skinny latte or whipped cream with a dash of cinnamon.

“It all begins with a commitment to quality, service, ambiance, and culture.”

You can create a similar personalized experience for every person who calls or comes into your dental practice. It starts with the first phone call. Is the receptionist use a warm greeting and ask the caller for his or her name immediately?

By using the caller's name through the conversation, it personalizes the discussion and keeps it focused on his or her needs. It helps establish trust and makes the caller feel like an individual instead of a number.

Once patients are in your office, write down notes about things they mention and then bring it up the next time. Is the patient enjoying his or her new job? Is the patient's daughter still playing soccer?

People do business with the people they like. Building rapport may only take a few minutes, but it could generate a patient that stays with you for years and who is happy to refer friends, family members, and colleagues to you.

3. Focus on ambiance

Starbucks is a master at creating a warm, inviting atmosphere in ways you may not even realize. For example, team members discovered the scent of certain cheeses interfered with the aroma of coffee, which led to lower sales. They changed the cheese.

What is the ambiance in your dental practice? If you always come in through a staff entrance, try coming in through the front door instead. What is your first impression when you walk into the waiting room?

One dental practice added a cheerful "Welcome" sign listing the first names of the patients being seen that hour. The receptionist noticed people were taking pictures of the sign and sharing it on social media.

You can do many things to create an environment that your patients will enjoy and appreciate, such as the following:

  • Make sure the patient areas are clean and clutter-free.
  • Provide current magazines for adults and coloring pages and crayons for children.
  • Change the TV channel away from news if the topic is stressful.

4. Focus on culture

Starbucks hires team members who believe in its culture and relationship-driven philosophy. It provides 30 hours of training to new baristas and instills a sense that the team is working together for a common purpose. The result is a workplace environment that attracts and retains good employees as well as loyal customers.

Dentists and dental practice owners can implement this relationship-first philosophy, too. Starting the day with a morning huddle that includes the dentists and hygienists is an excellent first step. This meeting sets the tone that everyone is working together to identify opportunities that will make it a good day for the entire practice.

You can also create a positive culture by celebrating success. Every day, you have the opportunity to make a difference in somebody's life. Ask happy patients to share their experience by writing a Google review before they leave your office. It makes everyone feel good when they receive recognition for the patient care and customer service they provided.

By creating a Starbucks-style experience for your patients and team members, you create an environment where people want to come to you. It all begins with a commitment to quality, service, ambiance, and culture.

Amol Nirgudkar is the co-founder and CEO of Patient Prism.

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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