Providing excellent customer service is vital in the orthodontic industry. As a service-based industry, our business heavily depends on how happy our patients are with their experience.
Excellent customer service not only keeps your current patients coming; it also attracts new customers to your practice. According to American Express, “3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience.” This is because “70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated,” according to McKinsey. These principles apply not only to product-based businesses, but also to service-based industries such as orthodontics.
Since superior customer service is vital to the orthodontic industry, how can you train your employees to offer the best service available?
First, your staff needs to understand that customer service is all about having a personal touch, showing appreciation, and making your customers feel important.
Train your staff to add a personal touch to their service by developing a personal relationship with your patients. Developing a personal relationship with patients lets your customers know you value them as human beings and not just for their wallets. To develop a personal relationship, instruct your staff to ask patients about their work, families, and interests. Ask your employees to keep records of their conversations so they can remember every patient they work with.
Your employees should make sure your patients feel like they are being heard. Deborah Tannen, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, stated, “To say that a person feels listened to means a lot more than just their ideas get heard. It’s a sign of respect. It makes people feel valued.” Listening with the objective to really hear what people are saying is so rare that it will make your orthodontic practice stand out from the competition.
Also, take time to remind staff members that relationships work two ways. While it is important for your staff to get to know your patients, it is also important to let your patients get to know your staff. Encourage your staff to be themselves so your patients have a chance to develop a personal relationship with them. Emphasize that the point of being yourself is to build trust with the patients.
After adding a personal touch to your practice, show appreciation for the patronage of your patients. Give them a small gift or a discount on their next visit. For example, give patients a goody bag filled with a new toothbrush, floss, floss threaders, and other items they may need. If you don’t have the resources to give a gift to everyone, you could set up a lottery where all of your customers have a chance to win a prize. Another example is to surprise them with a discount on their visit if they’ve taken good care of their teeth.
When you exceed expectations through gifts and discounts, customers will naturally want to reciprocate that generosity. According to Help Scout, “Reciprocity is what motivates customers to send a tweet, share their experience with a friend or continue doing business with you over time as a loyal customer.”
Why do patients naturally want to promote your practice when you exceed their expectations? According to Aristotle, an equally reciprocal relationship is the ideal. People naturally strive to achieve the ideal situation so when your practice does something extra for a patient, the patient tries to match that kindness and restore balance by promoting your practice to others.
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “The Thank You Economy,” “There is proven ROI in doing whatever you can to turn your customers into advocates for your brand or business. The way to create advocates is to offer superior customer service.” By showing your appreciation, you are offering superior customer service and your turn your customers into your practice’s best advocates.
Adding a personal touch and showing appreciation are both excellent ways to make your customers feel important. However, you can also take a more direct approach to fulfilling this need. Create a customer loyalty program. Customer loyalty programs “incentivize customers to keep coming back while also giving them that prized VIP feeling through rewards” (Help Scout). Customer loyalty programs allow customers to feel like they are getting special treatment because they are important, therefore fulfilling the human need to feel important.
By adding a personal touch, showing appreciation, and making your customers feel important, your orthodontic practice will provide excellent customer service. Excellent customer service is so valued by customers that 7 in 10 Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service” (American Express Survey). Because clients and consumers place a high value on customer service, you should as well if you want to surpass your competition and have a rewarding orthodontic practice.
Orthodontist Dr. Kim Carlyle
Dr. Carlyle obtained a Masters Degree in organic chemistry from the University of California, San Diego prior to receiving her Doctor of Dental Surgery Degree from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in San Francisco with honors. She received several awards for scholastic achievement upon graduation. After graduation from dental school, Dr. Carlyle completed a Residency in General Dentistry at the VA Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Following the general practice residency, Dr. Carlyle decided to pursue a career in the dental specialty of orthodontics. She completed a three-year residency at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, where she received her specialty certificate in orthodontics and her Masters of Dental Science Degree. This specialized program of study prepared her to diagnose, prevent, and treat patients’ dental and facial irregularities.
She limits her practice to orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics and treats a wide variety of improperly aligned teeth and/or jaws.
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