As is usually the case, a recent experience of mine prompted me to pen an anecdote that I believe benefits Townies and those who provide, in addition to straight teeth, outstanding customer service.
I’ll describe an out-of-the-dental-field experience, as well as what many of our colleagues and perhaps even ourselves are doing to let people know who we are and what we’re up to. Who’d think that a visit for auto service would be the event that triggered me to recall the experience, digest it and, most of all, try to write it down? As you’ll read, it’s not just the initial service (or sometimes lack thereof) but also the follow-up that’s important.
The experience started a month ago with emails and texts. These days, automobile manufacturers know my auto better than I do, and it’s difficult to leave the dealership without signing up for some service program that the manufacturer offers.
You know the drill: The first year is free but you need to give them your credit card, and then after not thinking about it for a while, lo and behold, your account is dinged for the next year of monitoring, service and emergency repairs and calls. In my case, after flagging, ignoring and hoping that the automated reminders would stop, I had time to respond and scheduled an appointment for what I believed would be a simple, routine checkup on my vehicle.
Cruising to the appointment
Because I have the time and enjoy meeting people, I made the appointment in person at the dealership. They were a bit surprised—and the experience was a bit frustrating because I got shuttled to a few counters before eventually making an appointment for the next day. That morning, I was greeted in the driveway by an attendant. I could see that the dealership has done this before, especially with the early morning rush, because attendants moved almost a dozen watch-glaring, toe-tapping, “I’ve got better things to do” customers through their system to get the vehicles registered and the clients on their way.
A welcome detour
When it was my turn, the attendant checked the computer and told me who my service adviser would be. The paperwork was filled out in advance. (What a nice touch!)
I was quizzed regarding my rental needs and was shown the counter for that, which was an uneventful and usual process involving license, insurance and credit card. It was the $20 fee that I found interesting; turns out it covers a bunch of issues that auto renters would prefer not to deal with. This, I thought, was a pleasant surprise: We all know how annoying it is to stop at a gas station when returning a rental car. This fee covered windshield breakage from stones (a real issue in Arizona), fuel, and even detailing of my own vehicle. Granted, a free loaner sounds good, but the issues mentioned above made the token fee a bargain.
Texts were generated hourly as my vehicle made it through the inspection process and, when the process was completed, I was alerted by my service adviser. I got text and email notifications, including a professional PDF with red, yellow and green checkmarks that indicated the condition, situation or services required at this particular interval.
Lastly, I got a call from the adviser who suggested I opt for an elective service procedure that I’m used to declining. (It’s a leased vehicle, by the way!) But because of the ever-so-positive experience, the regular updating and my perception that this was a value ... I accepted! And this is the moral of the first story.
Steered to acceptance
Because of the dealership’s attention to detail, desire to address customers’ needs and employing people who “get it,” I elected to accept optional treatment.
How many of us can relate to this when offering whitening of teeth, permanent retainers or other elective services? Upon returning the vehicle that evening to reclaim mine, I found that checkout was easy and my car was detailed, and I left feeling that I received a great service. By the way, the service and rental operation was open until 8 p.m.
The next day or so I received the usual email asking me for a review of service. The concise and polite request was promptly returned with all positive feedback. It was the least I could do!
Driving home the points
My family has quite a story to share. Libby, my youngest, has a major elective dental process in the works. We have begun to prepare her for some dentistry that has been in the planning and execution stage for a while but as we all know, the shoemaker’s daughter needs shoes.
One of my favorite local cosmetic dentists, Dr. Michael Kelly, has performed the evaluation for the final procedures and has met with my daughter, who was so impressed.
Understand that she has not had any restorations completed! But upon returning to work she was so positive. A number of her co-workers have already visited him and have raved about the service. (I can personally attest to the doctor’s fine reputation, work and team.)
Within days of their experiences, they too received an automated solicitation for a review, which they enthusiastically provided.
The takeaways are:
- Anticipate and provide the service you think patients might need.
Make their visits easier than ever before.
Keep patients informed of progress and results.
When complete, ask for a review.
I’m guilty of not taking advantage of positive events in our practice.
We have begun a process of asking patients whether we can post their impromptu compliments online. Whenever this occurs, we ask if the patient wouldn’t mind putting that in writing. We have created a merged document that we immediately send with a link for providing a review.
In this social media world, if you don’t believe your own stuff and let everyone know, no one else will.