NEVER ASSUME ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR PATIENT

Never assume” is always very wise advice, and may be extra true in dentist/patients relationships. There are techniques to “pre-qualify” a patient’s initial interest, but that should not discourage the dentist from giving an honest and sincere presentation of the patient’s real needs.
 

I like to see a dentist introduce him/herself with, How may I help you today?” You may have some information from the patient’s registration, but often you will get a better (or different) understanding from a personal response.
ALF= Ask questions, Listen, give Feedback.
 
Here’s a classic example of dentist disengagement-
A few years ago I witnessed an experienced dentist conduct this exchange with a new patient.
 
Patient (an 85 y/o plainly dressed woman with severely eroded anterior teeth and a “closed bite”: “Doctor I would like to have a nice smile. I think I need all my teeth capped.”
 
Dr. S (A good clinician with very poor communication skills) “You know, that’s going to cost over $20,000.” (He ASSUMED from the patient’s age and appearance that she was just fantasizing and would waste his time.)
 
The lady looked him right in the eyes and said, “I thought it might have cost over $30,000.”
 
She completed and paid for her exam visit…. and never came back to him. When she left his office I explained to him how he probably lost the patient and even worse, injured the self image of his patient. She (and I) interpreted his callous statement as an insult, and even if she lived another 5 years, or 6 months after treatment, she will have realized her dream of “a nice smile”. What right did he have to destroy her self-value and steal her dream? She may have won a lottery, or perhaps her children may have decided to give her a birthday present… but Listen to your patient.
 
This is a true, actual example. Here’s the outcome of this story. The woman went to another Dentist in the area (Dr. B) who kept an open mind and helped her achieve her dream.
 

“I TRIED”

 Okay, you “tried”, and it didn’t work. But, at least you said you “tried”. Do you feel relieved now… even though you failed?

 

 Is it good enough to “try” to do something… and then quit?

 

People who use words like “I tried.” are quitting before they give themselves a chance to win. When you say “I tried” or “I can’t,” the computer in your brain steps right up and supplies you with lots of reasons why you can’t, and it also blocks the creative part of your mind from figuring our how you can. Thus, the fact that you can’t, becomes true, further reinforcing your belief that you really can’t.
The entire presupposition behind “I tried” is failure. No one who succeeds ever says “I tried.” They say “I will do it.” Trying begins with the belief in failure. To try, you must make pictures in your head of failing. My suggestion is to make pictures in your head of accomplishing whatever it is you want to accomplish. Picture yourself having lost weight, as a non-smoker, or marching in the Winners’ Parade. When you do this, you give your brain a signal to figure out how to do it. When you “try,” you give your brain a signal to figure out a way to fail. There’s always a way.

In the 1st of the Star Wars episodes, Yoda instructed Luke Sky Walker (Harrison Ford), “There is no ‘try’. There is either ‘do’ or ‘do not.”

Instead of saying “I can’t”, begin to ask “How can I?” and keep asking and asking until your brain supplies you with the answer you want. I once heard a “motivational speaker” say, “After you think you tried every possible method, and still haven’t succeeded, try another method.” You could have asked Thomas Alva Edison about that:

“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 – 1931)
“Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

 

 

 

Why would someone focus on what they don’t want, and see themselves as being “at effect” of causes over which they have no control?   Fear. You can take control of your responses to whatever situation you find yourself in. And you can consciously control the choices you have in any situation. Choose to be successful.
What is the common thread of greatness that binds Thomas Edison, Yogi Berra, Yoda, and Gen. George S. Patton… and Mothers?

 

The power to persist in spite of everything, to endure, is the quality of a winner. Your greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time you fail. “I don’t fear failure. I only fear the slowing up of the engine inside of me which is saying, ‘Keep going, someone must be on top, why not you?” George S. Patton Jr.

 

 

 
IT’S NEVER OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER.”Yogi Berra
 
 
My own dear mother, who came to the New World (Philadelphia), as a penniless but determined immigrant from Russia, always believed she could accomplish nearly anything here. She learned English quickly, spoke it without an accent, and was respected and loved by everyone who met her. Her goals were to raise two children in a most difficult time during the “Great Depression”. Somehow she found the money to buy a piano for my sister, who became an opera singer, and for me to learn the violin. I can only imagine the hardships and the barriers in those years. Perseverentia vincit. (Perseverance conquers.) My mom, like yours, had all those adages; “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,”.
 
Your constant and determined effort will eventually break down all resistance and sweep away all the barriers to help you reach your goal. Be positive and persistent; know you will accomplish it.
You can’t be happy knowing you only “tried” …. and lost, and knowing that winning was just within your reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

STOP Selling Dentistry! Your patient wants to buy YOU.

 

Your patient doesn’t want to buy crowns and veneers. Your patient wants to buy YOU.

Once a patient likes you, trusts you, believes in you, and knows you are REALLY concerned about them, they will want to accept your recommendations. The commonly used term today is “patient engagement”. Subtle educational information always produces a better sales result than hard sell. Nearly everyone runs and hides after the first scent of commercialism. When you present useful and interesting information people will want to follow you. Let them see you as a knowledgeable and helpful authority. This is true in the Social Media and especially true in the dental office. The concept is known as “controlled responding” (Shiffrin and Schneider, 1977) and Influence (Robert Cialdini, 1988)

Try my ALF Principle-

Ask questions,

Listen carefully,

Give Feedback

When you ASK the right questions the patient will arrive at a self-diagnosis. Once that happens, your patient has “bought into” their problem and will be ready to accept your treatment solutions. Repeat or closely paraphrase what you heard so your patient understands that YOU understand.

Switch from making forceful, tightly scripted sales pitches to acting more like a friendly knowledgeable care-giver.

Draw marketing lessons from how Disney keeps families coming to its amusement parks. Eli Lilly Pharma held its most recent national sales meeting at Disney’s business training institute in Florida in February. It was devoted to customer service, not product training. Sales representatives watched how Animal Kingdom workers greeted families at the gate and answered questions around the attractions. (Read article in The Wall Street Journal (“Drug Sales Reps Soften Pitches“).

 Get your patients to believe that you are REALLY concerned about them, from the first phone call, thru all the contacts, and in an end-of-visit debriefing (recap). They want to know that everyone on the TEAM really cares. After that, everything else falls into place.

For more on this subject see my blog article: http://wp.me/p1OXM3-5R 

…and follow my blog.  https://adental.wordpress.com/

BUILD A SOLID DENTAL PRACTICE THRU RECIPROCAL REFERRALS

 

The “Reciprocal Referral” is an effective method to build a strong referral-based dental practice, and the opportunities are always right in front of your eyes. Many of your patients have businesses or services that you can use either personally or in the dental office.
I have seen exceptional networking returns by a dentist who purchases a weekly delivery of fresh flowers for his Reception Room. (The Florist and husband are loyal patients and they consistently refer many of their own customers.)
 
Another dentist “thanked” a referring patient who is an IT specialist by having him set up an office computer system in 5 operatories, private office and business office. That patient referred nine additional families over the next six months.
 
Some other examples of Referral Acknowledgement by Reciprocating that have produced well for my clients were with a plumber, a commercial printing company, a realtor, and even with an attorney. In all these cases, both the doctor and the referrer were exceedingly pleased with the results of their networking.
 
“Scratching each others’ backs.” 
 
You are quite familiar with the phrase “A referral is a compliment from a patient or a friend.” That compliment can’t be ignored. When someone thinks enough of you to refer one of their family or trusted friends, ignoring their kindness would be taken as an insult, while acknowledging their referral will encourage more referrals. It seems simple, but many dentists, surprisingly, just can’t figure out what to do.
 
Do you or a team member make calls, send cards, flowers, gifts, movie tickets, dinner certificates, or something even more creative? Or truthfully, are you taking the referrals for granted?
 
 
In your next TEAM meeting, mastermind a Program of Acknowledgements. What is one referral worth to your practice? How would you thank a patient, friend, or associate who refers 5 patients? What about 10 referrals? Create your “program”. Make it part of your written Office Policy.
 
And who are the patients- tomorrow- that you can initiate into your Reciprocal Referral Program?
 
 
 

Thank your Dental Assistant this week!

From the American Dental Association news.

It’s that time of year to thank the assistants who help your practice succeed.

Dental offices throughout the world will celebrate Dental Assistants Recognition Week March 4–10.    The theme for this year’s event is “Key to Productivity: The Professional Dental Assistant.

 Each year, dentists take a week to honor dental assistants for their role on the dental team, recognizing their broad spectrum of duties and highlighting their often unheralded contribution to quality dental care. The American Dental Assistants Association, American Dental Association, Canadian Dental Assistants Association and Canadian Dental Association jointly recognize the observance. Dental assistant associations, dental assisting schools, and U.S. Army and Air Force dental clinics all join dental offices in honoring dental assistants during this designated week.

“Dental assistants are valued members of the dental team. The role of assistants has become even more important in recent years with the advent of expanded functions,” said Dr. Mark Zust, chair of the ADA Council on Dental Practice. “More than ever, assistants achieve professional growth by studying and receiving advanced training. Dentists delegate more procedures and assistants take pride in their accomplishments.”

Dental assistants will celebrate their contributions to the profession by participating in educational and charity events and other team activities. Dentists typically show their respect for dental assistants’ diverse contributions to the dental profession and the public by providing perks such as luncheons, flowers or treats.

“Dental assistants show their value by providing everything from supportive procedures to direct patient care through expanded functions, which boosts productivity. The assistant provides a valuable connection with the patient; it is often the assistant that the patient turns to when they have questions, the assistant who explains the finances and the assistant who keeps the patient calm during treatment,” said Claudia Pohl, president of the American Dental Assistants Association.

CAN A DENTIST WALK AND WHISTLE AT THE SAME TIME?

Can a Dentist talk to a patient while concentrating on the job at hand?
 
Dentists reach a point, after varying degrees of experience, where we know the clinical procedural sequence so well, that we are able to do the job and educate at the same time.

Some patients are quite “detail oriented” and they would like you to tell them what you are going to do, tell them what you are doing, and then tell them what you have done.
Then there are the “big picture” people (the vast majority of our patients) who only want to know how long. how much, and the end result. We can get to know who they are by learning body language and verbal cues… or even asking our patient. They will tell us.  In all cases it is helpful to find some subject to talk about (a one-way conversation, of course) to keep the patient distracted and thinking positive about the treatment, their comfort, and the outcome. The chairside assistant can play an important role in this.
Still interested? Please read my article on case presentation: http://wp.me/p1OXM3-5R
 
NO-ONE will disagree that any patient must be treated as a whole. I have never seen a tooth or a mouth walk into a dental office without a human attached to it.   A dentist must be a lot more than a clinical robot. To REALLY help a patient, we must serve them as a teacher, psychologist, caring person, and primarily, a LISTENER.
 
Here’s my formula: “ALF
Ask the right questions,
Listen carefully,
and give Feedback so the patient knows you understand.
“There is no such thing as a ‘bad’ question from a patient.”
 
Everyone on the team should be educators, on the same “channel”, and knowing how to fully support the dentist.

DENTAL CASE PRESENTATION- a K.I.S.S. for your Patient

You can kill a good presentation by trying to explain too much. You know what the patient needs and he/she probably knows too.

Most of your patients will be big picture” processors. They will want to know the BASICS- how long, how much, and the result. They may even tell you that. You can determine that from their metaphors and body language. The few “detail oriented” patients will be the accountants, engineers,… and other dentists. If you give too many details in your presentation, you will open Pandora’s Box for even the “Big Picture” patients to start a litany of questions. Avoid such statements as, “…then the Hygienist will scale, root plane and irrigate….”, or “… after I prepare your teeth, I’ll take some impressions, and….”

[ The Hygienist “removes disease” and you are “creating a great new smile”. It’s that simple! ]

There’s a time and a place for those detail explanations, but it is not during the case presentation. For now just concentrate on the value and the benefits. KISS. “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

Make your presentations well planned-out and concise. Utilize visual aids and social confirmations.

Picture your desired OUTCOME, then trim away the excess like a Michelangelo:

A 15th Century admirer looked in awe at one of Michelangelo’s sculptures and asked the maestro how he could create such a magnificent sculpture from a block of marble. Michelangelo said, “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved away the excess until I set him free.”

Here’s a humorous example:

The young doctor had just completed his first Treatment Plan Presentation for a big cosmetic makeover. He followed all the rules given by his coach. He demonstrated with study models, radiographs and photographs, and clearly detailed to his patient every situation requiring treatment. His presentation was planned, orchestrated and smoothly presented.

He explained an ideal treatment to his patient which the doctor had estimated at $22,500. The young doctor did not yet have a financial coordinator and had to present the investment himself. It was his first case over a few thousand dollars. He went into great detail then froze and could not give the fee.
 
The patient seemed impressed with the understanding that the doctor showed of his dental condition, and the benefits from the proposed treatment and told him that. “Doc, I realize that I neglected my dental condition for a long time and that I need a lot of work………..but honestly, I have no insurance and I can’t go over $25,000.”
 
With that the doctor snapped back, “That’s exactly what it will cost!”

KNOCK KNOCK! It’s a New Patient….

Do you hear that sound? That’s more than your phone ringing- that’s OPPORTUNITY knocking at your door.
 
The way your telephone is answered often determines whether the caller will take the next step and schedule an appointment……. or not.
 
How important is that first contact that a patient has with your office? In four (4) seconds a caller will determine if she/he likes YOU, if YOU are friendly, if YOUR office is professional, if she/he will have fun… or fear, if she/he is making the correct choice. All the greatness in skill and service you offer will be judged by the caller in the first contact with the person who answers the telephone for you. Your entire image, and all you worked to achieve, will be projected there and then. YOU are reflected in her/his image.
It should be pre-determined whose job it is to be the first person to answer the telephone, and when that’s not possible, who’s next and so on. Any team member that can answer the phone must be trained in the telephone protocol of the dental practice. Give them the training! And make that “phantom call” every once in a while to hear what your patient hears.
 An office has to have a “script” for answering the telephone. Whomever does answer the phone must follow the practice’s telephone protocol.
 

Here is a complete, professional, and friendly protocol:

1. The Welcome (Make it fun, unique, and memorable.)
2. Identify the Office (Office name and doctor(s))
3. Identify the Speaker (Sound like you are happy and excited to take the call.)
4. Call to Action
 
And here is a simple example you can adapt (customize):
“It’s a great day here at Dr. Smiths’ ‘Healthy Smiles’.
This is Susan; how may I help you today?”
 
This seems so obvious that you may wonder why I bother to post this. I post this because nine out of ten dental offices I call still answer with something as mundane as, “Doctor’s Office”.
 
THE NEXT STEP
1. “Would you spell your name for me please?”
2. "In case we get disconnected may I have your phone number?"
 After giving you this information, a rapport will be established and the caller will feel engaged.
 3. "Which one of our patients referred you?" (Useful information and a subliminal promotion.)
“That’s great! They’re one of our favorites. We’ll have to thank them.'"
We ask that question because so many of our patients are referred by others." "We hope you will be doing that, too."
 
 4. Ask the REASON FOR THE CALL
  "Are you seeing us to establish a new relationship or do you have a specific concern or problem?" 

5. Get the INSURANCE INFORMATION

 6. Get any Needed MEDICAL INFORMATION

"Is there anything in your medical history that would influence your dental treatment?"
 
7. End the call on a high note, telling the patient how excited you are to meet them.
 
No matter how "busy" you may be, there will always be enough time to create a great memorable FIRST IMPRESSION.
 

How many cups of SUGAR do you eat each day? SURPRISE!

About the time of Henry VIII–when they first got easy access to it–the British were really enjoying their sugar. They put it on everything, from eggs to meat to wine. Even though sugar was expensive, they consumed it until their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn’t turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealthy and marvelously self-indulgent they were.

In the following pictures (slide show), one cube equals one teaspoonful of sugar.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s your favorite “snack food” after looking at this?

How about a bag of Cheerios and a small bag of carrots?

How do YOU acknowledge word-of-mouth referrals? How do you thank the referrer?

When someone thinks enough of you to refer one of their family or trusted friends, ignoring their kindness would be taken as an insult, while acknowledging their referral will encourage more referrals. It seems simple, but many dentists, surprisingly, just can’t figure out what to do.

 

What do you think of this idea?

A printed card is sent to the referring friend with a lottery ticket inside. The outside of the card says, You’re worth a million to us.” On the inside where the ticket is attached, it is inscribed, We hope you win.”
On the other inside flap there’s a personal note from the doctor, “Thank you for referring (patient) to us.”
Small cost, great value. I hope you can send 5 of these every day.

 
When one of your patients gets a winning lottery card, just think of the publicity you will receive, and ………… she may spend her winnings in your office, for that dentistry she needed.
Do you or a team member make calls, send cards, flowers, gifts, movie tickets, dinner certificates, or something even more creative? Or truthfully, are you taking the referrals for granted?
 
In your next TEAM meeting, mastermind a Program of Acknowledgements.  What is one referral worth to your practice? How would you thank a patient, friend, or associate who refers 5 patients? What about 10 referrals?