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How to Improve Your Customer Service & Set Your Office Apart

Liz Russell, MAADOM with text, "Real-world insights from AADOM authors"

When was the last time you had a really great experience… so much so that you wanted to tell a friend or family member about it?

Maybe it was at a restaurant, grocery, or retail store?

How about your last dental visit?

What would some of your patients say if you asked them that same question? How would they rank their “dental experience” with you?

It’s an important question to ask yourself and the team.

More importantly, what are you doing every day with each patient to make them feel special, at ease, and welcomed when visiting?

Why customer service matters in dentistry

Cary, NC and the surrounding areas are some of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. But as new residents flock in, new dental practices are springing up, all looking to attract and retain that growing patient base.

And remember, any new or long-time dental practices will be happy to take your existing patients!

We’re blessed to have some of the finest dental practitioners in the country and a team of resourceful and talented individuals who all work to make sure they provide our patients the best care.

Relationships have been developed, trust has been won, and a sense of “family” has been created. Maybe that’s why those that have moved out of the area continue to drive a couple of hours just to have their dental needs taken care of in our office!

You’ve probably heard this or something similar to it dozens of times:

“Great experiences are about doing little things.”

But let me give you a personal example! Not while sitting in a dental chair, but the first time I flew first-class on an airline flight.

I was attending a CE Course out west. I had just worked a 9-hour shift, traffic was miserable, and I barely made it to the gate before they began boarding.

I was pretty frazzled!

However, my blood pressure began to lower once I realized I was allowed to board first. I started to feel even better when a flight attendant offered to store my carry-on for me in the overhead bin.

I suddenly felt important and cared for. I was no longer in a rush.

Once I was situated in my seat, I felt even more important when I was offered a glass of champagne! But I think what made this a truly great experience was prior to landing, I was given a warm, lemon-scented towel served on a platter and presented to me with a pair of silver tongs! It was a nice touch after a long flight, and boy, did it make me feel like a million bucks!

I spent that evening during the CE social event (and the next day) telling as many people as I could about the wonderful flight I had and what a great experience it was!

To me, it’s “the little things” that work best for retaining patients and recruiting new ones.

9 ways to improve your patients’ dental experiences

Here are few things I ask our team to do that sets our practice apart so that patients will want to recommend us to others:

  1. Whenever you can, greet your patient by name. People love that you recognize them.
  2. Truly listen to them. Make notes about things that are going on with their family, trips, etc., and mention it the next time that you see them.
  3. Our doctors call all new patients and welcome them to the practice (this can be done the day the appointment was made or the day prior to their visit).
  4. If a new patient was referred by an existing patient, the doctors send the referring patient a handwritten thank you note.
  5. Our doctors or clinical team call all patients the day after extensive treatment to check on them.
  6. We have neck pillows, blankets, and headphones available.
  7. We try to schedule our day so that our patient isn’t kept waiting or in the office any longer than necessary to complete their procedure. A patient’s time is more valuable to them than ever before. We try to offer same-day treatment if our schedule allows it. This keeps the patient from having to take time away from their job a second time. We even try to keep the patient with the same hygienist and assistant if possible to cultivate a better patient relationship.
  8. If the patient needs to be referred to a specialist, we offer to call and schedule an appointment for them. If they need a prescription, we offer to call the pharmacy instead of just handing them a paper copy.
  9. Each patient gets a warm towel at the end of their visit. These are very inexpensive, and you can usually get a free warming oven with a minimum order. Yes, I’m using my airline experience to give our patients “first-class” treatment!

Some of these may sound simple or small (and they are!). But perhaps you could try implementing a few of these ideas to begin with and see what kind of patient response you get in return?

Whatever of the above you try, make sure to gauge your patient’s reaction and ask team members assigned to this task to make a note of it.

Review what you have implemented during your team huddles. That way, you can determine if you should continue or stop the process and try something else.

Whatever you try, keep these things in mind…

The experience must be memorable, and it should evoke some kind of positive emotion… like the feeling of being appreciated, or that they are special in some way, or made to feel more comfortable or at ease.

These are the kinds of positive feelings you want your patients to have when exiting your facility! Ones that will make them want to come back and tell their friends, family, and coworkers about your practice!

Meet the Author

Liz Russell in a black topLiz Russell, MAADOM has worked in the dental industry for over 40 years. She began her career with a job after school and worked her way from there.

Over the years, she has served as everything from an Eaglesoft trainer to establishing her own practice management business. She has managed single and multiple-location dental practices and is co-president of the Triangle AADOM Chapter… This text opens a new tab to the chapter’s website… in Raleigh, NC.



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