A while back I wrote an article called “Patients are Talking” which made the argument that your numbers of direct referrals and case acceptance success were a measure of whether or not you were meeting your patients needs. I have not found one dentist that could accurately give me these two benchmarks. This tells me that maybe they are not listening to what patients are saying. If you are not getting at least a 50% direct referral rate from existing patients, you can be sure that you need to do something now because practices that fall short here are being told by their patients that there is something they don’t like. It could be your hours, fees, phone technique, services you offer, the fact you don’t clean teeth on the first appointment, or even the fact that you don’t work on kids or take their insurance. Who knows? But they don’t like something and you won’t grow if you don’t figure this out.
Some of you will say that you use Demand Force, Smile Reminder, Lighthouse or some internal program affiliated with your dental software to garner feedback, but this will not work. So far you have not done anything or you aren’t getting the feedback that these software companies claim they can get. The reason they don’t work is that the patient doesn’t feel that it will be totally anonymous: It will give you their email address to track the comment.
Let’s talk about something that is sort of “old school”, but works great. It not only works but works on several areas of feedback and practice building. Because it is different it will garner a far larger response than any email generated report card that you could design or use. We have used this for thirty years and even though we use the electronic software listed above, we still fall back on this to guide us in business and systems change in order to inspire and keep earning the respect of our patients.
Let’s just take a few paragraphs and discuss what, how, when, why, and where to use this to take your practice into the realm of the Super General Dental Practice. By the way, if you haven’t downloaded our latest book, just go to our website, www.summitpracticesolutions.com and get the ebook.
The Comment Card is given to every patient we see. Whether it is an emergency, recall cleaning, or new patient, we want to make sure that we are meeting and exceeding their needs and expectations. Below you will find a copy of the front and back of the card and I want to list how each part of the card is designed and utilized to grow our practices. (NOTE: Click on the link to see the card)
1. The card is just a 3X5 card on blue stock.
2. It is handed to every patient we work on in the operatory along with a request for feedback so that we can improve our service.
3. On the address side is the Business Reply Mail and No Postage Necessary if Mailed in the US stamp. This is available at the Post Office and makes it easy for them to mail it from anywhere.
4. On the reverse side the card states that we want to improve our service for them. A request and a benefit from the patient.
5. The name is optional so that they can do this and be completely anonymous.
6. The date, doctor, or particular staff member allow us to pin point when the action occurred and basically who did well or poorly.
7. Finding out whether the patient is here for the first time or a returning patient means we will understand how important this comment is and where it is coming from.
8. Where did you hear about us? Helps us know how our marketing and referrals are working, and how we can improve this.
9. What did you like least, or what could we improve? This is where we take the information and make changes in our systems in order to improve our ability to inspire our patients.
10. Would you refer your family and friends to us? We take every chance we get to garner more referrals and multiply the effect of our marketing to grow our practice.
That’s it. Simple. Easy. Predictable. Consistent. A can’t miss report card that forces you to improve what you do.
Michael Abernathy, DDS