experience What makes a person choose one dentist instead of another? What makes them loyal to a practice once they're in it? These are the kinds of questions that come up when we think about how growing a practice in today's competitive consumer-based marketplace.

As a commenter on a recent article here wondered, what exactly do we do to gain that all-important "mindshare" in a world where many people just select a dentist based on low-value word of mouth (asking a neighbor or colleague who their dentist is), or by shopping for price or special deals?

The answer is that it will always come down to the quality of the patient experience you provide. That's not to discount clinical excellence by any means, but as I always say, the patient is a patient when they are in the chair with their mouth open. Otherwise, they are clients and consumers, which means that when it comes to winning their hearts and minds, you are playing by the same rules as everyone else out there who wants their attention. And we in dentistry have something to learn from other kinds of service providers who do this well.

The True Value of an Exceptional Experience

For example, I love the experience of dining out—it is probably my favorite indulgence. But even though there are literally hundreds of restaurants in my area, I invariably return to the same three or four, especially if it is any kind of special occasion. Why? It's not just because I love the food (although I do); it's because these are the places where I really feel at home. They have gone out of their way to make me feel welcome and comfortable. They greet me and my family warmly by name, they remember my food preferences, they update me on what is new and interesting on the menu that they think I might like and they extend that feeling of special attention to any guests I bring with me.

I want to go back to these places because they make me feel good when I am there—it's that simple. And it is that difficult, because it takes a lot of training and coordinated effort, from the maitre 'd greeting, to the servers' attention to detail, to the chefs' skills and efficiency, to deliver an experience like that. These places have truly earned my loyalty and when I recommend them to others, I do it wholeheartedly, knowing that the people I send there will get the same wonderful experience I get.

In dentistry, we all know about the amazing advances in clinical procedures and technology compared with what was standard just a generation ago, yet a surprising number of practices provide a patient experience that is not noticeably different from what a patient would expect thirty years in the past. I know that most practices provide a good experience, which is to say that they are genuinely friendly and caring. But if you want to really stand out and compete for mindshare in a meaningful way that goes beyond advertising and special offers, you must spend the time to choreograph an exceptional experience—one where the patient comes away "wowed" by you, the team, and their own possibilities.

To explain the step-by-step process for delivering that kind of patient experience is beyond the scope of these daily articles. But we at Spear have put a lot of energy into analyzing the process, breaking down everything that needs to be done every step of the way—from initial call to the welcome tour, to exam and consultation, to financial discussions and scheduling return visits. We have mapped out the ideal new patient visit and how to deliver it.

It's all here in our online Course Library, ready when you are. There is enough there to provide a dental team with almost a year's worth of real-world education, spaced out over a series of lunch-time or after-hours sessions. Just by spending an hour or so every other week reviewing this with the team, within a year you could completely transform your patient experience and become one of those practices that people will be drawn to from miles around.

If you find topics like this helpful, check out Imtiaz Manji's practice management courses available to you through our Course Library. Not yet a member of Digital Suite? Click here to learn more.


Commenter's Profile Image Dee Dee Meevasin
December 10th, 2014
What a weird coincidence Imtiaz. I just posted our latest blog post today on almost the same topic. Are we on the right track? http://www.deefordentist.com/apples-oranges/
Commenter's Profile Image Imtiaz Manji
December 11th, 2014
What a great story! I hope everybody visiting here takes a moment to read your post. You obviously have a keen sense of the value you provide and you are clearly not afraid to stand by your standards. Thanks for sharing. Imtiaz