financial Tag Archive

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Data Driven Patient Satisfaction for your Practice

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Yes, I admit it – I LOVE DATA! In this article I will detail some real life examples from my group dental practice of how objective data can support best possible customer satisfaction. Customer service is more than a smile and the warm and fuzzies.Let’s start with asking what are the primary goals of your practice? I think it would be safe to say that every practice seeks to achieve success in the following areas:

1. Satisfied patients.
2. Integrated, effective, happy team.
3. Financial health and growth.

In this article I would like to share some thoughts about #1. Satisfied Patients, without which the other goals are unlikely to be achieved. I will assume that you already have a degree of financial success and a great team of Linchpins ready to seek out new ways to advance your practice.

I hope you also agree that the best way to achieve satisfied patients is through outstanding customer service. OK, now let’s take a look at how great customer service can be cultivated and the results measured objectively in a dental practice.

So, what measurements best reflect whether or not your practice is perceived by patients as being a great place to receive dental care?

Growing or dying: One high level indicator of overall satisfaction certainly would be continued patronage as reflected in your monthly active patient totals. Be realistic folks. This is not the total number of patients in your database (except for those who have been in practice less than 2 years). Consider active patients to be patients who have been PHYSICALLY in the building for treatment in the past 2 years. Consider utilizing an even more powerful metric for this data set – a Trailing 12 Report. This report simply compares the current 12 month total with previous 12 month chunks, going back one month at a time so that you are comparing year over year retrospectively. A good report to show whether you are growing or dying year over year, and a hint that customer service may be slipping over time if growth is slowing.

Post appointment surveys: Additional insights into quality of customer service can be derived from post appointment survey return results. We send out a survey same day to every patient seen during the day. Lighthouse 360 has fully automated this program for us. Fix what the customer complains about, augment what they rave about.

Testimonial acquisition: Next let’s look at another trackable activity, testimonial acquisition. We have customized the Lighthouse post appointment survey to include a request for a testimonial, including patient consent to use in electronic media. Post testimonials on your website. Start your weekly/monthly team meetings by reading all the testimonials good and bad.

Hopefully you are acquiring additional insights on how well your practice is taking care of patients by means of such things as “Ask for Testimonials” programs which encourage and enable patients to post testimonials on Google+, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.

The more good data (Testimonials) that your patients post on the web, the more you learn, and more evidence exists to encourage new patient growth and overall growth of your practice.

There are, of course, many other ways to improve customer satisfaction in your practice. However, in my practice I have found that the above data points and programs are key to creating virtuous cycles that drive patient satisfaction and growth predictively over time regardless of economic conditions.

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Sharing financials with employees

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Most would agree that it is good to educate employees on how the business runs: how much money comes in and where it comes from, how much money goes out and where it is spent, and what is left behind and how it is used to reinvest in the business. Employees feel more invested when they understand the financials of the business. They grow personally and professionally by understanding how the business makes money. They become more sensitive to the costs in the company. Even if they are not a shareholder they develop a sense of ownership.

The concern that private companies have is whether such disclosure will unduly expose their financials to the community, to their customers and even to the press, and whether the employees will be offended by the apparent wealth being amassed by the owners. The smaller the company and tighter the ownership, the more this becomes a concern. But, wait a minute! Do you really believe that your employees don’t have a feel for the revenues of your company? Employees of most companies, particularly small companies, typically have a good feel for the total revenues of the company. Employees of most companies, particularly small companies, “think” they have a feel for the expenses of the company. So, in their heads, they have a clear idea of the profits of the company, and the amount of money the boss takes home.

Unfortunately, their estimate of the expenses is naïve and usually understated. They underestimate the cost of the office/factory infrastructure; they are ignorant of employer expenses, such as a business license, business insurance and the employer’s contribution to employees’ tax obligations; they overlook a variety of costs such as utilities, janitorial services, equipment repair, maintenance, etc. As a result, they have an overstated estimate of how much the boss takes home.

Educating your employees on the financials of your company creates a sense of empowerment and ownership. They are usually surprised and awakened by how much you spend on categories with which they are familiar and which they can impact. Your candor in the disclosure causes them to accept a responsibility to manage the expenses. They grow as individuals, both personally and professionally.

Every employee in your company should have a good feel for the basic flow of your income statement – the sources and amount of revenue and the classes and amount of expenses. In addition, your managers should also have a feel for the structure of your balance sheet – how much assets are tied up, where it is tied up and what return on those assets the company expects to get. Finally, your top executives should also understand the nature of your cashflow and your capital structure – the periodic fluctuations in your working capital, your sources for cash when needed and an understanding of the leverage deployed in the financing of your business. By educating your employees in these areas you not only enable them to do their jobs better, but you grow them as employees – a stewardship responsibility you accepted when you hired them.

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Food for Thought is our way of sharing interesting concepts on corporate leadership and management with others who might find it useful. The thoughts offered are intended to be controversial and thought provoking. They always follow our motto of helping develop logical leadership.

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