The Magic of Apple Employee Training

We often hear about how brilliant Steve Jobs was, and what a good job Apple does of marketing its products.  What I want to talk about is their employee training in retail stores, and how it can be applied to any small service business.  (And if you don’t think you’re in retail health care, take some time and read Chapter 3 of my book—it should convince you.)

As you may have noticed, Apple stores are the busiest stores in the mall.  For the statistic-minded, retail stores in malls average sales of $341 per square foot per year.  The top 20 retailers average $787.  Apple stores average $6,200!!  More than twice the next highest retailer, Tiffany & Co., which does $3,000 per square foot.*  And this is just what is sold in the Apple stores, not online.

So, now that I have your attention, here’s an acronym Apple uses in its employee training for the retail stores:

Approach customers with a warm, personalized greeting;

Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs;

Present a solution for the customer to take home that day;

Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns;

End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Do you see how these might apply to your practice?  I’m thinking they all do.  A warm, friendly greeting by everyone in the office who encounters the patient?  Check.  Probing politely to find out what their dental needs and desires are? Roger that.  Presenting a treatment solution that can be started and ideally completed that day?  Sounds ideal.  Listen for issues they may have, concerns about cost, treatment complexity, time involved, fears or misgivings they may have?  Pathway to success. And finally, ending with fond farewell AND an invitation to return or, better yet, an appointment already scheduled, and expressing how you’re looking forward to seeing them at that time.

In reality, it isn’t magic.  It’s just what we all want, and Apple is just smart enough to do it in a genuine and consistent way.

*Source: RetailSails Company Data 2012

Bring Online Reviews to Your Daily Huddle

I just had a great conversation with Anastasia Turchetta, who is a dental speaker and hygienist, (she’ll be speaking at TBSE this year) and I was showing her our new product, Reputation Monitor.  She immediately had a suggestion which I thought was great, which was to use it in the morning huddle and read the previous day’s reviews to the team.  This serves many purposes.  If there was as negative review, then the team can discuss what went wrong and how to correct it going forward. (It also should be someone’s job to respond to the negative review, but that’s not for the huddle.)  If you had positive reviews, this lets the team know that they are doing a great job and that people are noticing, and gets everyone excited about the day.

It also has the benefit of reminding team members that they are being reviewed, like it or not.  And so that should make them step up their game, and be conscientious, considerate and courteous throughout the day.  And it keeps the idea in mind that they should request that the patients do reviews for the practice, and that they can even do it in the office on their smartphone.  Or the patient could be encouraged to check in on Facebook and post a comment.

Reputation Monitor is a great tool for showing every comment that is being posted about the practice, whether it’s in social media like Facebook or an online review on Yelp or Google.  And this is a terrific way to take advantage of that information.  Thanks, Anastasia!

The Junior Mints Principle

My wife is originally from Thailand, so when we visit there we bring a suitcase full of American items for her friends and family, such as Sonicare toothbrushes, Tide-to-Go, Doritos, and various other bizarre items.  My sister-in-law in particular loves Junior Mints, so we bring several boxes over, as they are not available in Bangkok.  One year, I decided to give her a real treat and brought her some expensive Ghiradelli Chocolates with mint, just so she could experience the next level of quality and flavor.  I gave them to her and she was polite and grateful.  The next year, before we went over, she told my wife, “Just bring Junior Mints this time.”

How often do we do that–automatically assume someone wants a first-class experience when their tastes don’t run that way?  It’s important to keep in mind that many patients don’t need premium-level dentistry. They don’t need a perfect smile.  Some of them have a smile that we can barely look at, but they don’t really care.  As long as they can chew their food, they’re fine.

And that has to be all right. Obviously you want to keep your patients informed on treatment that is going to preserve and protect their dentition, but not everyone wants veneers or cares how white their teeth are.  They aren’t going to die if they’re teeth aren’t perfect.  Often we try to impose our own sensibilities on other people, or believe that everyone wants the best of everything. One of the big mistakes people and businesses make in marketing is assuming that everyone is like them.  It’s almost never true. A whole lot of people are content with average, are comfortable with it, and maybe even prefer it.  They’re still going to need restorative dentistry as they age, but they need to know that you’re okay doing the minimum, not the maximum.

(As an aside, let me just say that your smile, and your team’s, should be PERFECT!)

Take the time to really listen to your patients. Find out what they want, make sure they always at least get what they need, and you’ll have a great practice serving a wide range of people.

Also, I believe Junior Mints outsells Ghiradelli Chocolate Mints by about 1000 to one.

Tracking Your Online Reputation

As I mentioned in my most recent blog post, online reviews are taking the Internet by storm, and it’s one you better be prepared for. I believe that tracking your online reputation on a daily basis is so important that my company has just launched a new product, ReputationMonitor, which goes out into the Internet looking for every place that your name or your practice is mentioned, and puts all the results in a single dashboard so that you can take action.

There are a number of lightweight versions of this type of service such as Google Alerts, and some that claim to track your reputation, but most products are not very comprehensive, and only track a few sites. Ours is the most comprehensive, and it is the first of its kind exclusively for the dental industry. I’m really excited about it because it works so well and is so easy to use. As you know, I normally don’t hawk products in this blog, but in this case the need is so critical that I want my readers to know about this tool. The fact is most practices would never have the time to gather all this information, or even know how to do it.

ReputationMonitor covers three different categories of websites:

  1. Directory listings
  2. Online review sites
  3. Social media

With directory listings, you will find that there are dozens of websites, many that you’ve never heard of, that have some of your practice information, but often that info is inaccurate or incomplete. And worse, most of the time it doesn’t have your website listed, so there is no SEO juice. ReputationMonitor gives you an easy way to go and fix that information.

With online reviews, although you can’t get the negative ones down (and anyone who promises that they can do that for you is deceiving you), at least you know they are there, and you can respond to them. And with positive reviews, it gives you easy steps to post those reviews on your Facebook Page or Twitter, and you can even copy them and post them to your website. It will even send you an email or text message whenever a new review is posted about you anywhere. (The one exceptions are Angie’s List, which is a closed subscription site, so it only sees what they choose to make public, and then we will see it, and Facebook personal profiles, which are also private.)


With social media, you get a comprehensive look at what is being said about you, and where it is posted. This is also something you should be tracking daily and responding to.

You can also track the reputation of three different competitors of your choice, to see how you compare.

It’s a phenomenal tool for a practice, and it’s only $59 per month (and less if you’re a 1-800-DENTIST client already). If you’re interested in a demo, call 855-225-5231 or click here.

When it comes to your online reputation, the writing’s on the walls (that’s a Facebook joke, if you can’t tell.)

Online Reviews Are Like Vampires

The dental world is abuzz with stories of online reviews of practices, with good reason. Like vampires, online reviews live forever.  And also like vampires, if you’re not careful they can suck your blood until you’re dry.  A recent study showed that 89% of online reviews are positive.  This is absolutely not true for dentist reviews.  Because people don’t really have a good way of assessing treatment plans or a dentist’s clinical skills, they go by impressions created by the cost, the practice environment, the staff attitude, and a host of intangibles, and when they are scared, unhappy, disappointed or think they are overcharged, now they go on Yelp, Google or someplace like that and spew about it.  Venomously.

And you can’t get that review down. Many have tried. And people who read them don’t come away with much factual information, but people give credence to reviews, because they’ve been reading reviews on Amazon, Trip Advisor, Rotten Tomatoes and FourSquare (and Facebook, too) for years, and they won’t make a decision without hearing from the masses.

It’s a scary environment, and it’s also very hard to track. There are literally hundreds of websites that have some information about you, most of it that you didn’t submit and don’t know anything about.  And it would take hours every week to search them out and respond or correct them.  Until now.

Here at my company we felt that this is such a critical area of marketing that we developed a tool for dentists to easily track that information, and then do something about it.  Last week we officially launched Reputation Monitor.  Here in one dashboard you can track everything from reviews, to social media, to competitors’ ratings online.

This program goes out and searches hundreds of websites and compiles the data for you, and then gives you an easy way to fix it, or at least comment on if it’s a review, or even bring positive reviews into your own Facebook page or website.

It will even send you alerts when a new review appears, by email or right to your cell phone if you’d like.

I think this is an essential tool for dentists or office managers to take control of their online reputation without spending a huge amount of time.  There are other products that claim to do some of this, but this is the most comprehensive and user-friendly product out there.  I’m really proud of it, and I hope you’ll try it and tell me what you think.

It does so much that it takes 15 minutes or so to fully demonstrate it.  If you’re interested, click to schedule a demo for Reputation Monitor.  In a later blog I’ll talk about my recommendations for dealing with negative reviews.

This is what the overview page looks like:

 

If you would like my weekly blog sent to your email instead of having to visit here, just put your email address in the box above on the right, and then respond to the verification email, and you’ll never miss a post!