Always look at the experience from the perspective of the patient. Make sure their experience is superior in every way. See everything from their point of view and modify what you’re doing accordingly.
To paraphrase the most powerful thing we learned from Greg Stanley:
Gain a clear understanding of what your patients want when they walk in the door. Then tell them what they need, why they need it, why it’s so important, and why it should be done now. They’ll have a greater understanding. You’ll expand what they want. If you do it carefully and do it well, you’ll expand what it is they want. Then you give them what they want.”
That may sound simplistic, but it’s very difficult to do. At the time we learned it, this philosophy challenged our thinking. Our prior thinking was, “Tell them what they need and give them what they need.” This mindset led to a disconnect between us and our patients. Without the background and understanding of why they’re in your office, it’s difficult to give them what they want.
When you understand what they need, you can expand what they want and, therefore, what they end up receiving from you.
Don’t Push Treatment on Patients
We’ve worked with practices that had an interest in a specific discipline of dentistry, so they recommend it left and right.
For example, dentists who want to do more implants. The patient hears about them every time, but they’re not interested in implants. The dentist should just state the facts:
“If you don’t use implants to replace a single tooth, another option is a bridge. Here are the pros and cons of the implant. Here are the pros and cons of the bridge.”
The dentist keeps harping at them in a judgmental tone. They don’t let the patient decide if they want implants or not.
Frequently, providers with a particular interest don’t see that they were pushing it, but their patients could clearly feel they were. When patients feels pushed, they have a tendency to resist. This accounts for a lot of unscheduled treatment. It’s because the patient was pushed toward something they didn’t want.
Happily Give Them What They Want
It’s not just giving them what they want. It’s giving them what they want happily, cheerfully—and grateful that you’re able to serve them in that way.
There is often a disconnect between what patients need and giving them what they want. It’s not intentional. It’s subtle, but people pick up on subtle things in dental offices. Almost everybody has some anxiety going into a dental practice. When our anxiety level is up, as Dr. Meis’ father used to say, “Our antennae come out.”
- We pick up on things we wouldn’t normally pick up on.
- We notice things we wouldn’t normally notice.
- We’re irritated by things that wouldn’t normally irritate us.
- Our trust is affected by things that wouldn’t normally us.
We have to keep that in mind with our day-to-day flow of incoming patients. It’s easy to get disconnected from that.
Keep the mindset of not making decisions for the patient.
When you go somewhere to check out a purchase, many times you’re just going to see if you want or need it. When you feel as though you have only one option, you feel backed into a corner. People don’t respond well to that. Present and weigh all the options to the patient. Although you might explain why one way is superior to another, it’s still their choice. As a consumer, this makes a lot of difference as to whether or not they’ll come back. It’s about comfort.
Give Them Choices—But Not Too Many
It’s important when you’re giving choices that you narrow the options.
Don’t offer a thousand different options to patients. Too many choices are confusing for them, and confused people don’t buy. Have a small amount of information that’s well balanced in presentation.
One phrase we suggest using in presentations:
“What I would do in my own mouth (or in my wife’s mouth). That’s what I would recommend for you.”
People respond well to that. They like having choices. They don’t like presentations if they are pushed toward something they don’t want. It’s an emotional disconnect. They don’t feel cared for. Even though that’s not the intent, that’s not how it feels to the patient.[starbox id=107]