In our society today, we often hear the words “customer service” used to signify that an organization’s primary focus is on its customers. We also have heard another term used, “customer no service.” This term was derived to designate those organizations where customer satisfaction is not the primary focal point. Unfortunately, success either never comes, or is very fleeting for those who find themselves in the latter group.
Why is this? The answer is quite simple. Without customers, no business can survive, let alone prosper. Dentistry is no different! Patients have many choices for dental care today. In most metropolitan areas in the U.S., there is a dental office on every corner, so competition is fierce, and patient retention is more challenging than ever before.
So, what can we do in our practice to insure we not only attract new patients, but hang on to the ones we have? You guessed it! Excellent customer service! What exactly does this mean, you might ask? It means putting the needs of the customer (patient) first. When that patient calls on the phone, or walks through the door of our office, they have to feel that they are number one! No matter what else might be going on around us, our number one responsibility, regardless of what our role in the office, is to make each and every patient feel important, listened to, cared for, and appreciated.
It is not okay to get this right some of the time. We have to get it right 100% of the time. This starts from the way we answer our phone, and carries all the way through our clinical care and the way we handle our patients’ financial concerns. Every patient is an individual, with unique circumstances and needs. It is absolutely critical that we recognize this and behave accordingly at all times.
We must continue to strive to increase our awareness of innovative and enhanced ways to insure our patients receive the care they need. Sometimes this means letting go of old, outdated ideas, and embracing the new! For instance, learning to tap into medical benefits to help patients afford their dental treatment!
While it is very true that not all dental services are reimbursable under medical, enough are to make increasing our knowledge in this area worth our while. We owe it to ourselves and our patients to thoroughly investigate every possible avenue to help them afford the care they need. Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to help patients accept their care now, instead of waiting for next year’s dental maximum to roll over?
In closing, let me share a story to exemplify true customer service. A young mother broke tooth #10 when hit in the mouth accidentally while buckling her 3 year old in her car seat. Restoration of this tooth required root canal, post and crown. Her dental policy excluded coverage for the post and crown, due to “no major coverage” in her plan. She did receive benefit for the root canal, because this fell under the “basic” category.
The Office Manager explained to this patient that even though the dental office does not accept medical insurance as payment, they would be happy to investigate the possibility of reimbursement to her under her medical plan for the post and crown, since the services were accident related. To make a long story short, the patient received a check from her medical carrier for $1805 of the $1850 she paid to the dentist for the post and crown, and the best part is she received it two days before Christmas.
How would you say this patient feels about that dental practice now? She never would have even thought about the possibility of receiving benefits from her medical carrier for this treatment. Had that Office Manager not gone the extra mile, this patient would have never received this money which was readily available, just for the asking. How is that for customer service? I think this example epitomizes the concept!
“When you reach out to help another, the person who benefits most is you.”
Written by Elaine Dickson, Instructor
Management and Insurance Specialist
with Warschaw Learning Institute (c) 2010 Warschaw Learning Institute Visit our website at www.warschawlearninginstitute.com to learn about the wide range of online practice management and hiring technique continuing education courses. In addition, becoming a member of our Dental Management Club www.dentalmanagementclub.com will entitle you to major discounts on all of our online courses, dental products and services from our partnered vendors.