Posted by: Chris | December 16, 2008

Services Marketing at the Dentist’s Office

dentistI had to go see the dentist last week. Nothing bad-just a routine check-up and cleaning. Each time I see my dentist, I leave impressed (and sometimes a little numb, but that’s beside the point). Not only does the group (Berkshire Dental) have a marketing plan in place (which is not especially common among dentists), but it actually has implemented  intentionally or not) a pretty good services marketing plan. A few of their service marketing initiatives:

1. Hygienists are well-empowered.

Hygienists initiate the check-up. Once the cleaning is complete and the dentist arrives, hygienists provide a short report to the dentist on their findings. Hygienists also educate patients over the course of the check-up, explaining things they have noticed that may deserve extra attention.

2. Staff is cross-trained and well educated about available products

Per my experience, any staff member in my dentist’s office can rattle off relevant information about crowns, whitening, or Invisalign while ringing up your bill, checking on your insurance, or helping schedule your next appointment.

3. Dentists and staff pursue continuing education in their field

My dentist has mentioned to me on multiple occasions his involvement in industry workshops and conferences. Hygienists are knowledgeable about technologies used in the dentist’s office, such as the ultra-sonic cleaning device that makes my ears hurt, and the in-office “crown-maker.”

4. The office is member of the community

My dentist’s office partakes in “Buy Broken Arrow,” a civic initiative designed to encourage locals to spend money in-town. I recently looked at the list of participating businesses, and I don’t remember seeing any other dentists.

5. The office uses a variety of contact methods

As my dental appointment approaches, I receive multiple e-mails and text messages to remind me. After the appointment, I receive a performance survey via e-mail. Very impressive. (Twitter direct messages would complete the trifecta.)

6. Service is consistent

I have seen several different hygienists at my dentist’s office, and they all follow very similar service rituals. The same holds true for their front-office staff. Quality of performance is similar across the board, which leads me to believe that the office has an internal feedback or review system in place, be it formal or informal.

7. Staff and dentists seem to maintain an internal sense of community

Dentists and hygienists clearly have a good, strong rapport with each other. They know each others’ families. I see personal photos in each check-up bay. They are friendly toward and very respectful of each other. I was speaking to my hygienist (as much as possible) during this most recent visit, and I asked her how long she had been at this particular office. Her answer: 25 years. I was extremely impressed. I asked her if she had worked at other offices previously, and what had compelled her to stay at this office for 25 years. She commented that a big difference she saw among various offices was that of the way hygienists were treated. If I may put words in her mouth (she put a bunch of crazy instruments in mine, so I feel I am entitled), the respect shown by the “higher-ups” was a key to long tenure. Interesting. Not a new concept. (What in marketing is new?) But a concept that was practiced consistently.

When that inevitable e-mail survey arrives in my inbox, I foresee good marks. Now, if they’d just get some flatscreens installed on their ceilings.


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