Customer Satisfaction Is Not a Calculation

Customer satisfaction is a perception. It is not based on some calculation of value
received.  Cost may certainly be a factor, but what is expensive is also a perception that varies widely from person to person. To me, a $17,000 Apple Watch is too expensive.  To someone trying to impress people with how much money they have to buy whatever they want, or how successful they are, it’s worth every penny.Caclulating value girl

Understanding this is essential in any business. Pretending it’s not true, that human beings are completely rational in their decision-making, in their assessment of value, in their responses to situations, is, well, completely irrational.

Think about it.

Whether you were treated well is a perception.

Whether you were greeted nicely is a perception.

Feeling respected is a perception. So is feeling disrespected.

Feeling talked down to is a perception.

Feeling understood is a perception.

Trustworthiness is a perception.

Feeling appreciated is a perception.

Notice that none of these are calculations people make are based on a column of numbers or a list of provable facts.

Most important, they are all integral parts of the patient experience.  And the patient experience, much more than the clinical result, is what compels a person to write a positive review, or recommend the practice to a friend or family member, or borrow money in order to get comprehensive treatment.

Which is why the little things matter.

Which is why listening is so important.

Which is why price is not the primary factor in patient retention, unless it’s the only thing they hear.

Which is why genuinely caring about your patients, more than about making money, matters.

Which is why, quite simply, everything matters.

 

Google+ Down, Mobile Up, Facebook Up and Down

Here are some up-to-the-minute changes in social media.

  1. Google+, as far as dental practices go, is over.  Let me be the first one to tell you that you can stop posting there. Google+ is morphing away from being a social media site, as it failed the “me too” challenge with Facebook. I know, in my book I told you to mirror everything you did on Facebook on Google+.  Stuff changes–don’t shoot the messenger!  However, you should still request reviews for your Google+ page, as they will still show up in a Google search, and are valuable for SEO and influencing searching consumers. [Thanks to Jason K. for pointing that out!]
  2. Your activity, likes, and recommendations on your Facebook page are no longer indexed by Google.  No one knows exactly when this happened, but it’s over. So you get no Google juice (my term for SEO) out of your activity. This doesn’t mean you stop using Facebook.  It’s still the best medium to show the experience of being a patient of yours.
  3. On April 21, Google is modifying its algorithms (how it ranks websites) with respect to mobile sites. If your mobile site is not responsive or reformatted to play well on mobile devices, it is going to hurt your ranking.  Not the first time I’ve told you how important the mobile version of your website is.
  4. 74% of consumers will abandon your mobile website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Not the second time I’ve told you how important the mobile version of your website is.  More than 60% of web searches begin on smartphones, by the way.
  5. Videos now start playing automatically on Facebook as people scroll down their wall. (Unless you turn the function off.) This is engaging FB users in a big way. How big? Well, media analyst Socialbakers’ recent study showed video has twice the organic reach on Facebook as photos. And Facebook also has twice the number of videos with 1 million views that YouTube has. That’s serious.
  6. Because of this, I maintain that patient testimonial videos are your best marketing tool. Also, make sure you post natively on Facebook, which means don’t link a YouTube video or other URL source, upload it using Instagram or straight to Facebook with your computer or device.  If you don’t know how to get them done, read this blog post.
  7. Physicists now believe that gravity can leak into parallel universes, creating tiny black holes, and that the Large Hadron Collider may be able to detect them.  This may not seem important now, but wait 50 years. You’ll be saying, “Yeah, I knew about that back in 2015!”

That’s it for now.  But expect more changes.  Social media is a rapidly moving target.  And of course, if your website isn’t playing right on mobile, check out WebDirector.

And Jack Hadley, from My Social Practice, had this important point to add:

Fred, your statement under #2 is only partially true, “So you get no Google juice (my term for SEO) out of your activity.”

Cyrus Shepard, a super-smart SEO guy at MOZ, wrote the following just a couple of days ago… “The basic argument goes like this: ‘Google says they don’t use Facebook likes or Tweet counts to rank websites. Therefore, social activity doesn’t matter to SEO.’ This statement is half right, but can you guess which half? It’s true that Google does not use metrics such as Facebook shares or Twitter Followers directly in search rankings. On the other hand, successful social activity can have significant secondary effects on your SEO efforts. Social activity helps address two of the major tasks facing SEO: 1) Search engine discovery and indexation 2) Content distribution, which leads to links and shares.”

I wholeheartedly agree when you say, “It (social) is still the best medium to show the experience of being a patient of yours.” Spot on! However, in addition, there ARE SEO benefits that result from social media activity. We see it with our clients all the time.

Oh, BTW, if anyone wants to read Cyrus Shepard’s post, here is the link: http://moz.com/blog/seo-myths.

Thanks, Jack!

The Magic of Giving Tours

If you’ve read my book, you know I’m a big believer in giving office tours to new patients, and I wanted to give you an example of how influential it can be based on an experience I had in Chicago last month.

One of the perks of attending the Chicago Midwinter Meeting is getting to eat at some Chicago’s amazing restaurants.  For the second year in a row, I made a point of dining at Chicago Cut Steakhouse, which to my mind is one of the best steakhouses in the world. The waiters are informed and attentive, the atmosphere feels modern and classic at the same time, and the beef is cooked to perfection.Fernando Chicago Cut small

We all wanted to see how they could do everything so perfectly, so we asked for a tour of the kitchen.  And they were entirely prepared to do so. They often give tours of the dry-aging room (they butcher all their own beef right there) but we got the bonus round and were led into the kitchen, where we met master chef Fernando (that’s him with me) who manages to serve more than 500 steaks every night, each one cooked perfectly.

He showed us his unique method for testing if the steak is done exactly right, but those of us on the tour were sworn to secrecy.  (Maybe if you buy me dinner there next time I’ll tell you. 😉 ) All in all, it was a singularly terrific evening in the Windy City.

Am I biased by the tour to believe that their food is superior? You bet. Am I coming back? Guaranteed. Am I going to tell people about this place? I am right now. Will I post about it on social media? Oh, just on Twitter, Facebook and Yelp.

This is the same effect you want to achieve with your new patient tours.

When a new patient comes to your office, they don’t know what they’re in for.  Even if they were recommended by a friend and family member, they’re apprehensive.  A tour relaxes them, informs them, and gives them an experience that they don’t normally get in health care.  It starts the relationship by making the patient feel truly welcome.

In a recent survey done for Futuredontics, we asked patients the reasons why they would go back to the same dentist. Surprisingly, they ranked the cleanliness of the practice as a close third. Most people have no idea the degree of effort dental practices make in sterilization, so show them.  Put them at ease. They may not verbalize it, but they want to know that the practice is safe and sterile.  If you want to know more about what we learned, you can access our white paper “What Dental Patients Want” by clicking on the title.

To give you an idea how serious people are about this, I recently met a woman who told me she only went back to the dentist that we recommended because they had soap in the restroom.  Huh?  But think about it.  She was basing the cleanliness of the entire office based on the bathroom.  Big assumption, but if the bathroom is dirty, what else is?  Keep it clean!

Lots of big companies do tours.  Zappos, the online clothing store, for example.  Anyone can get a tour of their facility in Las Vegas, and i highly recommend it.  A-Dec does as well, and you’ll be amazed at the lengths to which they go to build long-lasting products. And, if you’re ever in Los Angeles, we’ll be happy to give you a tour of Futuredontics. (Lots of soap in the bathroom, I promise you!)

I lay out the details of doing office tours in my book, but here are the basics:

  1. Plan the steps of the tour, and script it;
  2. Pick a tour guide (you generally know who that should be from the team–or take turns doing it);
  3. Let everyone know in the morning huddle when there will be a new patient tour, so that they can be ready to greet the person by name;
  4. Show them your wall of fame (pictures, training, diplomas, patient letters and photos);
  5. Explain all the benefits of the technology that you use;
  6. Show them the sterilization center;
  7. Introduce them to the team members and dentists;
  8. Ask them if they have any questions.

This will give a phenomenal and unique first impression.  Your office doesn’t necessarily have to have an amazing design, but it should always feel warm and inviting, and look clean and modern. Most of all, have fun doing it!

 

 

Why a Dentist Should Be Running the Oscars

I recorded the Academy Awards last night so I could fast forward through the
commercials, and I even added 30 minutes extra to the recording time, and I STILL missed the Best Picture Award.  How the heck can this be the 87th Academy Awards and they still can’t figure out how long it’s going to run?  35 minutes long on a three-hour show?  That’s off by 20%!This recording has ended-3

So here’s my solution: get a dentist to produce the Oscars.  There isn’t a single dentist I know who would consistently run over by 20%.  Dentists know how to make those 10-minute blocks work.  They certainly learn from experience, and if they ever did run over on a procedure, they wouldn’t book the same amount of time the next 86 times!

As an aside, I probably won’t be the first person to point out that while an Oscar was given to a screenwriter who spoke eloquently about his near suicide and how people shouldn’t give up, and another was awarded for best short documentary about the veterans’ hotline,  where the director spoke of how she lost her son to suicide, that the Best Picture winner was the one film where (spoiler alert!) the lead character kills himself. Huh? I love irony as much as the next guy, but seriously, folks.

Back to the show timing. Here’s a suggestion.  You are nominated for an Oscar, which means you have a 20% chance of being in front of 1 billion people accepting the award.  So prepare something eloquent. If you can’t think of something eloquent, ask someone to write something for you and then memorize it.  Then pick the two most important people you want to thank, thank them and do a blanket thank you for everyone else. (We actually watched someone thank his dog last night, which Mickey Rourke also did a few years ago.) That way maybe, just maybe, we could watch more film clips and more retrospective montages rather than strangers in badly-fitting tuxedos listing their co-workers, agents and family members.

Which is why a dentist would also be a great producer for the show.  Dentists know that the schedule is about treating patients, so they would know that the Academy Awards is about our love of movies. They’d focus on that, get it done right and get us to bed on time.

And finally, why a dental office should be more like the Oscars:

Take a little more time each day to express your gratitude and appreciation to your team. And, as team members, express that appreciation more to each other.  One thing we do learn from these acceptance speeches is that these people all know they didn’t get there alone.  None of us do.  Express it often, and don’t be afraid to go long.

 

Is Your Practice a Tear-down?

tear-down houseThe long-standing tradition in dentistry has been for a dentist to run his or her practice for 30 or 40 years, occasionally replacing some equipment as necessary, and then selling the facility and patient list to a young dentist or associate.  That game has changed significantly, but many dentists haven’t realized that yet.

Now, when someone is assessing a practice for acquisition, they are looking at the age of two things: the facility and the patient base.  Let’s talk about the first one.

New dental school graduates are learning to work with digital everything.  And they are already fully digital in their personal lives.  In fact, more and more schools now train on CAD/CAM. (Sirona just equipped Boston University with a full array of CEREC machines for the students to work with, for example.)  This generation views digital radiography as standard.  They also understand marketing much more than previous generations, and they have grown up surrounded by brilliant retail design, from iPhones to Nike stores.

So when they walk into a dental practice that is essentially devoid of new technology, with tired and dated design, what they see is a tear-down.  They imagine that they will have to gut the facility and bring in new technology, as well as create an office design environment that is appealing to patients.  From an expenditure standpoint, they are often better off starting with raw office space somewhere else.

So my question is, if you were selling your house after living in it for 30 years, would you not paint, landscape, replace furniture, throw out some magazines, upgrade a few appliances and generally spiff the place up?  Because we all know the differences in price between a house in move-in condition, one that needs work, and a tear-down.  And we all know which one sells the fastest.  So why not do this with your practice?

The economics justify the upgrades, because you will recoup the money in the sale.  But something else will happen, something that many dentists don’t expect.  Suddenly, your existing patient base starts accepting more treatment, and coming in more often.  Why? The place looks new again, and the technology is appealing, especially if you talk about the benefits to them when they come in, or if you use something like PatientActivator to tell your patients about new services and technology.

Which leads to the second part–the aging of your patients.  In most practices,  the median patient age mirrors the age of the primary dentist.  In a transition, the buyer is going to look at the average age of the patients, and price accordingly.

The parallel to the real estate market is that young families with kids are going to look in neighborhoods where the residents have children of similar ages.  So a young dentist is not going to be eager to try to treat an aging patient base (who considers him a child, too young to know anything about medicine or dentistry, right?) instead of a broad mix of patients of all ages.

So the second part of your practice renovation is to refresh your patient base.  This is a lot easier when the facility is refreshed with design and new technology, by the way.  If you’re marketing to new patients, if your practice doesn’t look new and modern, you won’t have good photos to put on your website, and certainly can’t do a video tour.   But it also means investing in promotion to bring new patients in–new blood, so to speak, that brings that median age down.

This is a five-year plan, in my mind, or longer.  This isn’t something that all comes together in 6 months, but you can certainly execute the first steps–remodel, start adding new tech, market for new patients–and then the results will start coming in. Your production will go up, and when you’re ready, you’ll have a practice in move-in condition, commanding top dollar.  Make sense?