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.