22 Sep 2023  •  Blog, Practice Management  •  4min read By  • Gary Nelson

Customer Experience not Service

As more dentists transition from NHS to private dentistry, to stay ahead of the pack, Area Manager, Gary Nelson urges practices to concentrate on providing an outstanding experience for their patients, not just good service.

In my career within the business of Dentistry, I cannot remember a time when demand for all aspects of Dentistry has been so high.

I am also currently witnessing growth in dentistry delivered outside of the NHS at levels I didn’t think I’d ever see. Which means there are now more independent dental practices than ever before.

‘Boom Time’, I suppose you could call it. Or then again, you might just see it as increased competition for the many established independent practices.

A new study in Dentistry magazine recently revealed that a staggering one third of individuals aged under 35 have chosen to have cosmetic dental treatments in the past 12 months. Staggering when you think of the current economic cycle we are in.

Everything is cyclical

Speaking of cycles, I am also now old enough to fully understand that the world is very cyclical and that the economic turbulence we are all experiencing is part of a cycle. Although, it certainly doesn’t feel like it is nearing the end, just yet. This will have an impact on patients’ disposable incomes and their choices in the next 12-24 months as increases in mortgage rates start to bite.

Despite the economic difficulties everyone is experiencing, customer expectations are at an all-time high and it’s a tough job to meet them.

I have said for many years now, that I can get customer service in a corner shop, a chip shop, or a filling station. In fact, pretty much anywhere. It is CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE in this modern world that will set your business apart from the rest.

It’s all about how people feel 

The customer/patient experience is in basic terms: your patient’s perception of how your practice treats them. These perceptions affect their behaviours and build memories and feelings to drive their loyalty.

I recently read an interesting article in a business magazine that stated:

  • 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people.
  • If a customer is not happy, 13% of them will share their experience with 15 people or more.
  • In most cases, customers don’t tell you they’re unhappy. In fact, only one in 26 unhappy customers complain.

So, what about the rest? Well, they just stop doing business with you. Or in the case of independent dentistry, it may be that they come to your practice less often.

It’s about the whole patient journey

We also now live in a world where, unlike in the 90s, when there was only the telephone (or fax, remember those?), today’s customers/patients have so many more options when it comes to contacting you and your practice. They can reach you via multiple channels – through forms on the website, live chatsocial media and many more.

Let’s take the example of your website as to how customer experience can be impacted.

A poor mobile experience of your website can do serious damage to your practice and its patient experience. A business with a poorly designed mobile website could see 57% of customers choosing not to recommend it. And if a website isn’t mobile-friendly, 50% of customers will stop visiting it, even if they like the business.

When did you last revamp your website as a way to enhance your practice’s patient experience?

In the article I mentioned above it listed the most important attributes of Customer Experience

  • Fast response times
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Being able to speak to a person
  • Multiple contact points
  • Consistency

Yes, the day-to-day running of a practice is challenging. Keeping team members on track and motivated is difficult at times. So, why not engage your team and ask them for their views on the customer/patient experience and their suggestions for areas to improve, or projects that could be undertaken. You may even want to think about giving team members a new area of focus or different responsibilities.

The present comfort zone of a never-ending flow of patients might not last forever so you need to stay ahead of the next cycle.

And remember… only 1 in 26 unhappy customers complain.


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