Warning: This is a marketing article in disguise! Your patients’ favourable attitude or opinion about your practice is what will help it to grow, and they will only give it their stamp of approval if they received the quality of denture and service that they expected. Therefore, this article is all about Quality Control in your clinic.
Let’s address a few particular types of patients that you are probably not going to be able to meet the expectations of. No matter how good your quality control is, there are certain patients or cases that you know are going to be a problem.
You know who I mean — the little old lady who walks in with a bag full of dentures. She should have a neon sign on her forehead flashing the message “Danger, danger, no one has been able satisfy me yet.” And the bag should have a label, “Nine have tried, and nine have failed.” Just tell her, “Mrs. Jones, we can’t meet your needs or requirements,” and refer her onwards.
The other patient to beware of is the one who comes in telling you the kind of service they want and how they want the denture made or the problem solved, especially when they want something you know won’t work. You are the trained denture specialist. When you disagree with their assessment, send them someplace else. You don’t want to end up in front of the Board explaining yourself or, just about as painful, having to give the patient their money back.
If you’re just not getting enough new patients and think that you have to take anyone who comes your way, you must learn how to market your practice. (I have written three such articles in the past and you can call me for free copies.)
Quality control issues
To acquire your patients’ stamp of approval and increase your patient referrals, here are some techniques we recommend.
Pay up at try-in
We encourage our clients to have the patient pay for the denture at the try-in so that the insertion visit later on is a very upbeat, no downside experience. Plus, it tends to reduce the number of modifications to a denture once it’s made because the patient has already agreed to everything at the try-in before you manufacture the denture.
Insertion and enthusiasm
Then, at the insertion visit, you can ask your patient the quality control check question: “Is there anything we could do to improve our service?” If the answer is “no”, this is your opportunity to ask for a referral. Tell the patient, “We always welcome new patients. Here are two cards, one is for you and one is for you to give to a friend.” The point here is that they are happy with your service, now they can do you a favour. It is a favour, not an obligation, however. In asking, it also lets the patient know that you are accepting new patients. It is surprising how many patients don’t know that you are welcoming new patients. How often have you been asked, “Can I bring a friend to you or are you accepting new patients?” Bring on the world!
Insertion and dissatisfaction
If the patient has a reservation when you ask the question, “Is there anything we could do to improve our service?” or gives you some suggestions about how you can improve your service, get them written down. You must follow up and correct the perceived difficulty, including correcting staff as appropriate, and then follow up with the patient to let them know what you’ve done to remedy the situation.
Post insertion check-up
After the patient has received their dentures, some practitioners like to leave it up to the patient to call if there is a problem. We recommend that the patient have an appointment booked at a specific time subsequent to insertion, and be given the explanation that they will need to allow some time to acclimatize to their new denture. Usually this appointment is several days to a week later but should be booked before the patient leaves the practice.
Three to four weeks after the post op check-up, the patient should be contacted to see how they are doing with their new denture. If there is any problem, get them in for a “complimentary” adjustment. If everything is fine, you just earned brownie points by simply showing that you care.
Quality control also includes ensuring that your technical skills are kept up to date and honed to a fine edge. New techniques, new materials, and new procedures are being developed constantly.
And don’t forget to train your staff. For instance, our clients often bring their staff to my company for sales training to help them deal with all the front desk contact issues. You want your staff to be the best they can be. In many instances, they are your “department of first impressions” or primary point of contact for your new patients.
Helping your staff
The majority of staff are willing and want to do the best job they can. Therefore, when you correct staff, you will want to make sure that you lead off with what they are doing right. Then address the issue that you have to hand. Do not save up lots of “grievances” and then explode them on your staff all at one time. Then you wonder why they reject it! You must deal with each issue when it arises. They are your team members and should be just as interested as you in the delivery of top quality service to your patients. Encourage them to think of ways to improve the practice and implement as many of these ideas as feasible.
A patient who is enthusiastic about your service and their denture, will refer others to your practice. Satisfied patients don’t. Work towards such high quality care that your patient becomes enthusiastic.
Call us at 416-466-6217 for a FREE Practice Assessment!
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