Harmony by Design: How Dental Champions Forge Team Success

My husband and I finished assembling a particularly challenging family puzzle created from our 2023 holiday photos. The puzzle was difficult due to the duplication of images featuring everyone in identical positions, clothing, and colors. However, the real challenge arose when we discovered a missing piece in the upper left photo! Unwilling to accept an incomplete puzzle, we took matters into our own hands. Using cardboard from the puzzle box, we fashioned a replacement piece and meticulously recreated the image using colored sharpies. Finally, with the addition of our makeshift piece, the family “portrait” was complete, and harmony restored.

Harmony in dentistry is by design. Within the bustling environment of dental practices, there exists a team of unsung heroes whose collective efforts are the backbone of every successful practice. Each person plays a crucial role in the puzzle to deliver exceptional care to patients while ensuring the smooth functioning of the practice.

Dentists

The leaders of the dental team, responsible for diagnosing and treating dental conditions while ensuring the overall health of patients. They perform complex procedures ranging from routine check-ups to intricate restorative work, surgeries, and beyond. Their leadership extends beyond the operatory. Dentists contribute to cultivating a supportive team environment, fostering collaboration and professional growth among their colleagues.

Dental Assistants

Dental assistants are the silent superheroes, providing invaluable balance and support to team members throughout the day. They do it all, from preparing treatment rooms, sterilizing instruments, assisting chairside and ensuring patient comfort. Their meticulous attention to detail and swift actions are essential for efficient days. Beyond their multi-tasking technical skills, they serve as a comforting presence for patients and team members.

Dental Hygienists

Dental hygienists are the guardians of oral health, performing vital preventive and therapeutic procedures. From thorough screenings to patient education, they ensure optimal oral and systemic health. Their expertise in identifying early signs of diseases empowers patients to prioritize dental wellness. In the practice building department, their contributions are invaluable.

Office Managers and Administrators

Office administrators are the behind-the-scenes maestros, managing the day-to-day tasks that keep the practice running smoothly. From scheduling appointments and coordinating patient records to managing billing and insurance claims, their organizational prowess ensures efficient practice operations.
Their friendly demeanor and adept communication skills contribute to a positive patient experience, from booking to departure.

Harmony by Design

In the face of emergencies, this collective effort shines even brighter. Whether it’s a dental emergency or a team member missing for the day, the quick thinking and coordinated actions are essential for effective resolution. Their ability to remain calm under pressure and work together seamlessly ensures the best possible experience for patients and the practice alike.

Conclusion

Dental practices are powered by the collective efforts of the team. Their collaboration and dedication are the driving force behind every successful patient interaction and practice operation. As we celebrate the silent superheroes of dentistry, let’s recognize and appreciate the invaluable contributions of each member forging practice success.

It’s time to shine a spotlight on these unseen champions and acknowledge the invaluable role they play in harmonizing the world of dentistry.

Connect with me if you’re interested in scheduling or discussing:

Enhancing Referral Networks: A Generational Approach

Remember the joy of opening a pristine box of colored pencils as a child? Each pencil, vibrant and uniform, offered endless possibilities for creativity.

Similar to the way those pencils elevated our coloring adventures, incorporating tailored generational strategies can have a beneficial effect on referral sources, providing unique and memorable avenues to explore new referral opportunities.

We are all immigrants to other generations’ cultural territories. Each generation brings unique experiences, values, and traditions. Adapting communication styles to meet generational expectations builds stronger relationships and trust.

As we navigate the landscape of generational categories, it’s essential to recognize the diverse perspectives and communication preferences each group embodies. Baby boomers may appreciate direct and formal communication, while millennials and Gen Z might prefer informal and technology-driven interactions. By understanding and respecting these differences, dental practices can effectively tailor their outreach efforts to resonate with each generation.

Changing demographics within the dental profession also influences referral dynamics. Understanding these shifts is crucial for nurturing referral communities and adapting marketing strategies accordingly.

In 2022, the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) reported that 50.5% of dental school first-year students were female. This demographic trend is reshaping the dynamics of dental practices, with many women opting for part-time roles, especially after starting a family. Additionally, there is a growing preference among younger dentists, particularly millennials (Gen Y) and Gen Z, to forgo solo practices in favor of collaborative models. These changes influence the way referrals are managed and highlight the importance of adapting referral marketing strategies to accommodate evolving provider demographics.

A blended marketing effort, combining passive and active marketing strategies, yields the best results in establishing and maintaining a successful referral program.

Passive marketing efforts serve as subtle reminders of a practice’s presence and expertise. Branded gifts, delivered by a third party keep the practice top-of-mind among referral sources. Additionally, informative blogs can showcase the practice’s knowledge and capabilities, positioning it as a trusted authority in the field.

Active marketing strategies, such as face-to-face meetings and personalized presentations, facilitate deeper connections with referral partners. These interactions allow for meaningful dialogue and the opportunity to align services with the specific needs and preferences of each referral source. By sharing insights into the practice’s ideal patient profile and unique offerings, practices can effectively communicate their value proposition and foster stronger referral relationships.

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s essential for practices to differentiate themselves by identifying and leveraging their unique strengths or “superpowers.” Rather than attempting to be a jack-of-all-trades, practices should focus on defining their niche and becoming known as experts in a particular area of care.

Identifying a practice’s superpower involves introspection and an honest assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of expertise.

Whether it’s a specialized treatment modality, innovative technology, or exceptional patient experience, every practice has something that sets it apart from the competition. By defining and marketing this superpower effectively, practices can attract patients and referrals who are precisely seeking the services they excel at providing.

Taking active marketing efforts one step further by developing tailored presentations for referring offices and potential referral sources. These presentations provide an opportunity to showcase the practice’s expertise and educate referral partners about specific treatment modalities or services. By delivering targeted presentations focused on areas of mutual interest or need, practices can deepen their relationships with referral sources and increase the likelihood of receiving quality referrals.

For example, a periodontist may develop a presentation on grafting procedures and their benefits for patients. By collaborating with referring offices to better educate them about these procedures, the periodontist can increase awareness and referrals for this specialized service. Additionally, personalized presentations allow practices to highlight their brand culture and ideal client profile, reinforcing their value proposition and differentiating themselves from competitors.

In recent years, there has been a decline in the membership of traditional dental study clubs and associations. This trend is indicative of broader demographic shifts within the dental profession, with younger generations assuming leadership roles as baby boomers retire. To remain relevant and attractive to a diverse membership base, study clubs and associations must adapt their offerings and event formats to align with generational preferences and demographic trends.

By diversifying event agendas and incorporating elements such as recorded live and virtual sessions, expert panels, and interactive workshops, study clubs and associations can appeal to a broader audience and provide greater value to their members. Offering flexible scheduling options, such as breakfast or lunch meetings instead of evening events, accommodates the busy schedules of modern dental professionals and enhances accessibility.

By embracing generational diversity, adapting marketing strategies, and varying meeting formats, practices can cultivate meaningful connections with referral partners. Implementing action plans such as identifying practice superpowers and drafting inclusive event calendars empowers practices to thrive in an evolving dental community. Let’s embrace these strategies to enhance our referral networks and foster continued growth and success in an evolving dental landscape. Connect with me if you’re interested in strategizing ideas for crafting your practice’s unique selling proposition one-sheet or boosting your association/study club attendance and membership.

Generational Smiles: Strategies For Successful Treatment And Product Recommendations

Embracing the traditions of my father, a devoted Traditionalist, I continue the endearing practice of tipping with $2 bills.

His unique gesture always elicited smiles and prompted delightful conversations about cherished memories. He created a positive experience with his unique gesture.

As we sorted through his belongings after his passing at the age of 97, we stumbled upon a hidden treasure of… you guessed it, $2 dollar bills!

Tasked with inheriting this collection due to my frequent travels, I’ve adopted the joyful responsibility of perpetuating his legacy. Using these special bills for tips has become a heartwarming and enjoyable means for me to stay connected with him, keeping his spirit alive in the simple act of generosity.

Create a memorable, positive experiences that cater to the diverse needs of every generation

Have you ever found it challenging to connect with a patient or experienced resistance to treatment or product recommendations? The key may lie in understanding and bridging generational gaps in communication styles. Here is a strategic, comprehensive breakdown of four generations that today’s dental practices encounter. Included are insights on how to effectively interact with generational diversity in the dental practice.


Traditionalists (before 1946): Prefer Provider Guidance

Traditionalists appreciate clear and straightforward solutions when receiving recommendations from their healthcare provider. When presenting a treatment plan, aim for uncomplicated explanations that resonate with their preference for simplicity. Emphasize the longevity and durability of suggested solutions, ensuring they align with what suits them best. To bolster their confidence, offer real-life examples of patients within a similar age range who have undergone similar treatments successfully.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964): Valuing Personal Connection

Baby Boomers appreciate thorough explanations and prefer direct communication in person or by phone. They dislike feeling rushed, and taking the time for a relaxed discussion is crucial. Emphasize the benefits of a good smile and sound dental health, aligning their treatment with these values. Given their often-ample resources, schedule their treatments thoughtfully and extend an invitation for further questions.

Generation X (1965-1977): Ideal Plans and Clear Communication

Generation X, characterized by respect for authority and linear thinking, respond well to ideal treatment plans with phased scheduling and payment options. As high achievers, they value dental health for appearance and overall well-being. Follow-up communication, preferably through text or email, is appreciated.

Generation Y/Millennials (1978-1999): Desire Instant Gratification

Millennials are technology-dependent, seeking instant gratification and despising delays. To connect with them, be patient-attentive, provide same-day service, and combine appointments efficiently.

Gen Z (2000-2016): A Future-Focused Approach

Gen Z is future-oriented and prioritizes prevention while being cost-conscious. Deliver explanations and options that emphasize prevention, aligning with their forward-thinking mindset. As advocates for avoiding future expenses, they are an excellent fit for dental practices with a strong focus on preventive care.

Customizing dental product recommendations is equally crucial. Each generation has distinct preferences, needs, and communication styles that should be considered.

Traditionalists (Born before 1946): Simplicity and Reliability

• Keep it simple.
• Emphasize durability and reliability.
• Use respectful, formal language.
• Highlight products with a long history of success.
• Leverage personal testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964): Health, Aesthetics, and Trust

• Focus on health and aesthetics.
• Highlight products that improve or maintain appearance.
• Emphasize value for money and long-term benefits.
• Provide detailed information and studies to build trust.
• Adopt a professional and respectful tone.

Gen X (1965-1977): Convenience and Independence

• Offer convenience and practicality.
• Mention time-saving features or benefits.
• Use a straightforward, informative approach.
• Provide options and flexibility.
• Appeal to their desire for independence and self-care.

Gen Y (1978-1999): Technology and Social Values

• Emphasize technology and innovation.
• Align with environmental and social values.
• Utilize visuals, videos, and online reviews.
• Be concise and address cost-effectiveness and customization potential.

Gen Z (2000-2016): Technology and Sustainability

• Leverage technology and interactivity.
• Appeal to their desire for self-expression and uniqueness.
• Showcase products aligning with sustainability and ethical values.
• Use social media and influencers for recommendations.
• Keep the message short and visually engaging.

Adapting Strategies: Beyond Products to Communication

Customization extends beyond products to communication and marketing strategies. Consider different channels such as social media, email, or in-person consultations based on the preferences of the generation you are targeting. Gathering feedback from each generation can help refine recommendations over time, ensuring your dental practice meets their evolving needs and expectations. Embrace these insights to create a successful, patient-focused practice that caters to the diverse needs of every generation.

3 Reasons Dentists Should Engage With Google Reviews

In today’s digital age, online reviews hold significant sway over consumer decisions. Whether you’re searching for a restaurant, a vacation spot, or even a dentist, it has become second nature to consult Google reviews before making a choice.

As a dentist, your online reputation can make or break your practice. That’s why it’s crucial to actively engage with patient Google reviews, and here are three compelling reasons why you, as a dental practice, should personally respond to them.

Patient trust is the cornerstone of any successful dental practice. When you respond to Google reviews personally, you’re not just acknowledging the feedback; you’re demonstrating a genuine commitment to your patients’ well-being. This personal touch goes a long way in building trust and rapport with your patients. Visit the Google My Business Help Center for detailed information on managing your business’s online presence, including responding to reviews and optimizing your Google My Business listing.

Patient trust is the cornerstone of any successful dental practice. When you respond to Google reviews personally, you’re not just acknowledging the feedback; you’re demonstrating a genuine commitment to your patients’ well-being. This personal touch goes a long way in building trust and rapport with your patients. Visit the Google My Business Help Center for detailed information on managing your business’s online presence, including responding to reviews and optimizing your Google My Business listing.

Imagine this scenario: A patient named Sarah leaves a glowing five-star review, praising your gentle approach and effective treatment. You respond with a heartfelt thank-you message, expressing your gratitude for her kind words and emphasizing your dedication to providing exceptional care. Sarah, in turn, feels valued and appreciated as a patient.

On the flip side, if you receive a negative review, your personal response can turn the situation around. When addressing criticism, it’s essential to remain professional and empathetic. Apologize for any negative experience the patient had and offer to resolve the issue privately. This not only demonstrates your commitment to patient satisfaction but also shows potential patients that you take their concerns and privacy seriously.

In both cases, personalized responses to Google reviews demonstrate your active involvement and genuine concern for your patients’ experiences. This commitment to transparency and customer satisfaction fosters trust, making patients more likely to choose your dental practice over competitors.

Your online reputation can significantly impact your dental practice’s success. According to a BrightLocal survey, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 79% trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With this in mind, your Google review page is essentially your practice’s digital storefront.

By personally responding to reviews, you’re actively managing your online reputation. Positive responses to glowing reviews reinforce the positive image of your practice, while empathetic, professional responses to negative reviews demonstrate your commitment to addressing issues and improving patient experiences.

Additionally, regularly engaging with reviews can boost your practice’s visibility on Google. The search engine algorithm tends to favor businesses that actively engage with their customers. When you respond to reviews, it signals to Google that you’re an active and reputable business, potentially resulting in better search rankings and increased visibility to potential patients.

Patient Google reviews offer valuable insights into your practice’s strengths and areas for improvement. When you read reviews carefully and respond personally, you gain a deeper understanding of what your patients appreciate and what they find lacking in your services.

Positive reviews can highlight aspects of your practice that set you apart from the competition. Suppose multiple patients mention your friendly team, painless procedures, or efficient scheduling. In that case, you know these are key strengths you should continue to emphasize in your marketing efforts.

On the other hand, negative reviews can pinpoint areas where your practice may need improvement or coaching. Perhaps patients mention long wait times, unclear billing processes, or a lack of communication. These criticisms provide an opportunity for you to address these issues, improve your practice, and ultimately enhance the patient’s experience.

By responding to both positive and negative reviews personally, you can also gather more detailed feedback. Engage with patients by asking open-ended questions or inviting them to contact your office directly to discuss their concerns further. This not only shows your dedication to resolving issues but also provides you with direct feedback that can lead to meaningful improvements in your practice.

  • Look for webinars or online courses that focus on online reputation management and responding to reviews. Websites like LinkedIn Learning may have relevant courses.
  • Consider reaching out to professional dental associations and organizations in your region. They may offer guidance or resources specific to managing online reviews in the dental industry.
  • Collaborating with a marketing company can be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing your online presence. In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for businesses of all sizes.

By responding to patient Google reviews personally is an essential aspect of managing your dental practice’s online reputation. It builds trust, enhances your online image, and provides valuable feedback for continuous improvement.

As you engage with your patients online, remember that every response is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with existing patients and attract new ones. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal response in the world of digital dentistry.

Watch this Live, Recorded Webinar by Lisa Copeland, CEO of Communicate With Influence and Adrian Lefler, CEO of My Social Practice on Mastering Google Business Profiles for Dental Marketing: Reviews, Messaging, and HIPAA Compliance.

Communicating with Patients Through Google Business Profiles

🌟 Exciting News: Special Edition Guest Blog with Adrian Lefler! 🌟

At Communicate With Influence, we’re always seeking fresh insights, and today, we’re thrilled to introduce a special blog by Adrian Lefler, CEO at My Social Practice – a dental digital marketing expert. Adrian is joining us to share an exclusive article on leveraging Google Business Profiles for patient communication. Get ready for a unique perspective on marketing your dental practice! 💡🦷

Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

These days, consistent and accessible communication is more important than ever for patients. When people feel seen and heard, they feel like a valuable part of your practice and are less likely to take their business elsewhere.

One way to increase communication with current and prospective patients is to take advantage of Google’s chat feature for small businesses. It’s also a great strategy for dental marketing because it provides more opportunities to gain new patients.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Google messaging, how to get set up, and what you can do to make the process as easy as possible.

What is a Google Business Profile?

First and foremost, in order to use Google’s messaging feature, you must have a Google Business Profile (GBP).

A Google Business Profile is your official listing on Google and one of the most important first steps when establishing proper SEO for dentists. It is your practice’s online calling card and a way for you to gather reviews, manage your business, and connect with potential patients.

Google Business Profiles provide important information about your business. When setting up your GBP, make sure to include as much detail as possible. A GBP includes:

  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Reviews
  • Business category
  • Hours of operation 
  • Link to your website
  • Link to Google Maps directions
  • Photos of your business
  • A “call” button that links to your business phone number
  • Question & Answer section
  • “Chat” button that opens up a messaging window

Why is a GBP So Important?

Without a Google Business Profile, your practice will not show up on Google Maps, and your local SEO will suffer. With 77% of consumers using Google Maps to search for local businesses, getting your practice on the list of search results with a GBP is crucial.

When searching on Google, GBP results are the ones with the yellow star ratings next to them (as long as a business has reviews). These search results are also called a Google Map Pack or Google Local Pack, and they show up right below sponsored listings. Local Packs receive about 44% of total clicks on a Google search results page.

Google Maps SEO

Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, you can implement Google Maps SEO to improve your search rankings. By doing simple things like adding relevant keywords in your business description, finding the right business category, and updating your GBP regularly, you can beat out competitors for a coveted top spot in the search results.

Google Reviews

Along with Google Maps, a Google Business Profile also includes Google Reviews. The more positive reviews your practice has, the better because people value social proof very highly—like advice from a friend.

If you’re wondering how to get more Google reviews for your practice, you can always recruit help from a dental marketing company.

Communicating with Patients Through Your Google Business Profile

There are several ways to communicate with patients through your Google Business Profile. You can respond to reviews, answer Q&A’s, receive phone calls, and get connected through a link to your website. These are all crucial functions of a GBP, but the chat feature can be one of the most important ways to communicate.

Imagine a patient searching for dentists in their area. The top three results might all have several 5-star reviews, photos, and even great websites, but yours could be the one to stand out with the addition of a chat button.

Rather than delving into each practice’s website, the patient might choose to chat right away with your practice—the practice with the most accessible communication option.

How To Turn On Chat Notifications In Your GBP

Now that you understand the Google Business Profile and its messaging feature, along with why having access to these tools is so important, it’s time to turn chat on and start chatting!

Enabling messaging through your Google Business Profile is simple.

For Mobile Devices:

First, open the Google Maps app

On the bottom right corner, select “Business”

Select “Messages”

Select “More” then “Message Settings”

Turn Chat on or off

For Desktop

Open your Google Business Profile Manager

Select “Messages”

Select “Menu” then “More” followed by “Chat Settings”

Turn on or off Chat

Once the chat feature is enabled, you can begin receiving messages directly to your Google Business Profile. On a mobile device, you can access these messages in the Google Maps app, and on a Desktop, you can read your messages in the Google Business Profile management center on a web browser.

How To Respond to GBP Messages

Responding to GBP messages should be pretty straightforward. Google includes an automated feature that allows you to pre-fill some questions and answers for instant responses, but otherwise, you will need to access your inbox and respond ASAP.

When responding to messages in your Google Business Profile inbox, remember that you are representing your practice as a whole. All responses should be professional, courteous, and timely. 

  • Be Prompt

One caveat of the GBP messaging feature is that you have to respond to messages within 24 hours in order to keep the button on your page active. If you fail to respond, the chat feature will automatically be disabled.

Potential patients will be able to see a response time estimation for your practice such as “usually responds within 24 hours” or “usually responds in a few hours.”

  • Be Professional

It’s also vital to match the tone of your dental practice when responding to GBP messages. Be polite and professional, avoid slang, and answer to the best of your ability. As a dental professional, you might get questions about things like insurance coverage, cost of procedures, holiday hours, or anesthesia.

  • Be HIPAA Compliant

Another important factor to keep in mind any time you’re communicating on behalf of your practice is to stay HIPAA compliant. Never divulge Protected Health Information. This includes things like confirming the names of patients, personal details like phone numbers or addresses, and billing information.

As you get the hang of responding, you’ll also learn important information about what patients in your area are interested in. You can use that knowledge to improve your marketing strategies and draw more potential patients.

Plus, the more responsive you are with GBP messaging, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps. This dental SEO guide provides more tips on Google Maps ranking.

Integration with The Dental Social Media Publisher

If your practice uses the Dental Social Media Publisher, managing GBP messaging will be even more accessible. GBP chat functionality integrates into the Dental Social Media Publisher, so you can publish your dental social media content and respond to Google queries all at the same time.

Social media for dentists can get overwhelming. From planning content to execution and scheduling, many dental professionals start to feel stretched thin. That’s why tools like the Dental Social Media Publisher can be so beneficial to your marketing strategy. The Dental Social Media Publisher allows your practice to automate, multitask, and see results in real-time.

Conclusion: Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

Whether your goal is to improve your Google Maps ranking or get more reviews, using the messaging feature on your Google Business Profile can be a great way to bolster your practice’s online presence.

Try turning on the chat feature on your Google Business Profile, integrate the service with the Dental Social Media Publisher, and see what kind of questions come rolling in. You might be surprised how much this tool can help patients in your area, and help your practice grow.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

Securing Dental Talent in Turbulent Times: Strategies from Leaders

Position Your Practice for Long-term Success

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent in the dental industry has become more challenging than ever. As we navigate the “Great Resignation,” it’s crucial for dental practices to rethink their approach to talent management. Drawing inspiration from industry leaders like Chick-fil-A, we can uncover valuable strategies to create a positive workplace culture, hire the right team members, invest in employee growth, and provide exceptional customer service.

Your Employee Experience Is Your Employment Brand

In 2018, Gallup’s workplace analytics team emphasized the importance of the employee experience as the cornerstone of your employment brand. While many companies prioritize business strategy and financial aspects, it’s essential to remember that culture often outranks strategy in shaping your organization’s success. Culture encompasses the tangible actions and beliefs of your team, serving as the pulse of your practice. It’s what happens when the leader (not just the boss) leaves the room, and it continues to gain momentum by inspiring your people to conform to it. A strong culture unites everyone across different departments.

Empower Your Team with Problem-Solving Skills

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Encourage team members to develop SOPs as guides for handling specific situations such as team member conflicts, difficult patients, HIPAA compliance, and OSHA requirements. Assign a leader responsible for updating these guidelines to ensure everyone stays informed.

  1. Diverse Problem-Solving Skills: While it’s impossible to anticipate every issue, you can prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills. These skills are invaluable when facing unexpected situations, fostering adaptability and resilience.

Build a Team-Centric Culture

  1. Continuous Education: Prioritize team attendance at Continuing Education (CE) courses, whether live or virtual, throughout the year. Set goals for attending conferences and encourage knowledge sharing in team meetings.
  2. Software Updates and Training: Stay up-to-date with software and technology advancements relevant to your practice. Ensure that your team receives the necessary training to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Wellness Officer: Appoint a volunteer “wellness officer” responsible for checking in on employee health and monitoring the practice’s overall well-being. This role helps maintain a healthy work environment and strengthens team bonds.

Be Empathetic, Flexible, and Transparent

Times are stressful, impacting morale, health, wellness, and performance. Being empathetic, flexible, and practicing active listening can alleviate these challenges and strengthen team cohesion.
Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust and fostering a positive work environment. Keep your team informed about the state of the business, the COVID-19 situation, and emotional well-being.

Borrowing Ideas from Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A consistently ranks as a top-rated company for customer service. Their success is built on four strategic pillars that dentistry can adapt:

  1. Positive Culture
    • Your leadership should embody your practice’s core values and mission statement.
    • Ensure that your values influence your hiring decisions.
  2. Hiring Team Members That Fit Your Culture
    • During the hiring process, emphasize your practice’s core values to potential candidates.
    • Avoid hiring just to fill a void, as one negative team member can affect the entire office.
  3. Invest in Growing Team Member’s Skills
    • Provide comprehensive training for new team members, which pays off when they handle their responsibilities confidently.
    • Show your team members that they are valued, offer opportunities for growth, and invest in their development.
  4. Employees Comprehensively Trained in Customer Service
    • Focus on creating a positive work environment and nurturing relationships within your team.
    • Trust and empower your employees to handle customer service situations effectively.

Conclusion

By implementing these strategies, dental practices can not only attract but also retain exceptional talent during the challenging times of the “Great Resignation.” Building a positive culture, hiring the right fit, investing in growth, and prioritizing customer service will not only help you navigate the current talent shortage but also position your practice for long-term success. Your leadership will be the key determinant in achieving a better and more satisfying outcome for your team and your patients alike.

Resources

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

Unlocking the Enigma of Generation Z: Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Exploring the Unique Qualities of Gen Z Allows Us to Navigate Generational Dynamics

In a Newsweek article, journalist Adam Piore unveiled some intriguing insights into Generation Z, often perceived as idealists and dreamers. However, Gen Z distinguishes itself through a blend of global and local concerns that set them apart from previous generations.

Breaking the Stereotypes

Before delving into Gen Z’s distinctive characteristics, it’s worth noting that Newsweek has featured cover stories about every generation. Frequently, these stories touch upon familiar themes such as entitlement and work ethics. But Gen Z is challenging these stereotypes in unexpected ways.

Gen Z’s Top Concerns

Contrary to the image of carefree youth, Generation Z has its sights firmly set on the future, with specific concerns dominating their thoughts. Gen Z’s worries are highly practical and include money (67%), securing a job (64%), and affording college education (59%). These concerns reveal a pragmatic mindset and a clear focus on personal well-being and financial stability.

Defining a Generational Cohort

What truly defines a generational cohort? According to the US Census Bureau, it’s the events they encounter during their formative years. These events, whether global, technological, economic, or social, interact with the life cycle and aging process to mold people’s worldviews. Often, these moments are accompanied by fear and uncertainty, leaving an indelible emotional impact.

Generational Experiences: Shaping Perspectives

For instance, consider the Vietnam War era, a defining event for the Baby Boomer generation. During this period, older adults felt fear and worry, having experienced the horrors of World War II. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, exhibited mixed emotions—fear coupled with a sense of excitement, as they anticipated sharing this experience with friends. For Generation X, like me, it was the stress of living through this uncertain time.

The Generational Lens

This generational lens allows researchers to explore not only how older adults felt about a particular issue in their youth but also how views evolve across generations. It helps us understand how events shape the way we perceive the world and how these perceptions transcend age boundaries.

Gen Z: The Emerging Giant

Gen Z, the cohort succeeding the Millennials (aka Gen Y), comprises an astonishing 25% of the US population, making them the largest generation yet, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. But it’s not just birth years that define a generation; geography also plays a substantial role. Additionally, Cuspers, individuals born within three to five years of the beginning or end of a generation, offer unique insights. They straddle two generations, making them exceptionally empathetic and adept at understanding the generational “DNA.”

Generational Context: Different Experiences, Different Impact

Generational context is vital in comprehending how different generations react to the same events. Events can impact generations differently, leaving a lasting imprint on their collective consciousness.

Audience Check-In: Do You Know What Cohort You Are?

Now, let’s see where you fall. Raise your hand if you identify as a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennial), or Gen Z. The more you understand about yourself and how you are perceived, the easier it is to adapt to other generations.

Gen Z’s Workplace Revolution

When it comes to being employees, Gen Z is poised to revolutionize the workplace. They seek more than just superficial alignment with company brands. Their expectation is that companies and brands will transcend marketing buzzwords and make tangible, measurable differences in society. This pragmatic approach resonates not only in their expectations of employers but also in their personal concerns, reflecting a generation that values real-world impact.

Conclusion

Generation Z, the largest cohort yet, defies stereotypes with their forward-looking, pragmatic mindset. They are defined not only by their birth years but also by the unique experiences that shape their worldview. Cuspers, those straddling two generations, offer a special perspective, making them invaluable bridges between age groups. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of generational dynamics, understanding the distinct qualities and concerns of each cohort is crucial for fostering empathy and building a more inclusive society.

To deepen your comprehension of generational cohorts and enhance collaborative efforts across age groups, I invite you to arrange a discovery call with me. This session will provide an opportunity for us to delve into the intricacies and investigate the specific aspects that pique your interest.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

5 Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience in Your Dental Practice

The patient experience is a critical factor in the success of any dental practice. Patients who have positive experiences are more likely to return for future appointments, refer friends and family, and leave positive reviews.

In contrast, patients who have negative experiences may not return and can potentially harm the reputation of the practice. Here are some strategies that dental professionals can use to improve the patient experience in their practice.

1. Focus On Communication

Clear and effective communication is key to ensuring a positive patient experience. Dental professionals should take the time to listen to their patient’s concerns and explain procedures and treatments in a way that patients can understand. Providing patients with clear instructions after treatment can also help improve the patient experience.

  • Listen: Dental professionals can demonstrate active listening by repeating patients’ concerns back to them and asking intentional follow-up questions to ensure that they understand the issue.
  • Use plain language: Avoid using technical jargon that patients may not understand.
  • Provide written instructions: After a procedure or treatment, provide patients with written or text instructions on what to expect and how to continue care at home.

2. Improve The Welcome/Reception Experience

Waiting rooms can be a source of anxiety for patients, so it’s important to make them as comfortable and welcoming as possible. A Reception Area is a much more appealing name. Offer amenities such as video loops, relaxing music, magazines, comfortable seating, complimentary beverages, and fresh flowers (be careful of strong scents), and diverse artwork.

Keeping patients informed about wait times and updating them on any delays can also help reduce anxiety. Use technology such as text messaging or a digital display to keep patients informed.

Smile, be personable, and check in frequently to keep the patient in the know.

3. Personalize The Experience

Every patient is unique and has different needs and preferences. Dental professionals can improve the patient experience by taking the time to build relationships with their patients and tailor their care accordingly.

  • Offer sedation for anxious patients or provide special accommodations for patients with disabilities.
  • For patients with disabilities, provide accommodations such as a wheelchair ramp, accessible restroom, or sign language interpreter.
  • Ask patients about their preferences and needs, such as whether they prefer a certain type of music or would like a blanket during treatment.

4. Use Technology To Enhance The Patient Experience

Technology can be a powerful tool for improving the patient journey. For example, online appointment scheduling can make it easier for patients to book appointments at their convenience, and digital patient portals can allow patients to access and update their health information and communicate with their dental team.

  • Allowing patients to schedule appointments online at their convenience means you’ll never miss an opportunity.
  • Offering patients a secure digital portal helps keep patient records and information secure and up to date.

5. Solicit Feedback From Patients

The best way to understand the patient experience is to ask patients directly. Dental professionals can use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to gather input from patients and identify areas where they can improve.

  • Send patients a survey after their appointment to gather feedback on their experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Invite patients to participate in focus groups where they can share their experiences and provide feedback on how the practice can improve.
  • Always reply to ALL patient comments. The interaction provides one more touchpoint to keep your practice top of mind.

Improving the patient journey requires a commitment to ongoing communication, personalization, and continuous improvement. By focusing on these 5 strategies, dental professionals can create a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages patients to prioritize their oral health and return for future appointments.

Bonus:  Watch 4 Tips to Improve the Patient Journey

Intentional Words Increase Engagement and Profit

Communication Profit Poem

The way we communicate to one and all,

Can make or break a 1:1, a consultation, or a call.

Be thoughtful when selecting certain words and phrases…choosing the ones that can pay,

Or you could end up having an abrupt ending to a conversation… and a very long, bad day.

If we insert the right word in the most effective place…we will set a better tone,

Small generational verbal changes lead to communication profit…in person or on the phone.

A profession that uses the word BUY… it may behoove you to switch,

INVEST implies a profit, or a win….and much less of a sales pitch.

SELL is a word that many dislike… when using or hearing it aloud,

A CUSTOMIZED RECOMMENDATION, however…leaves the patient feeling special and proud.

PATIENT terminology is universal… but overused and dated,

CLIENT is one level up from that and very highly rated.

To make the best impression…a title that will ensure comfort, trust, and ease,

Refer to everyone as a GUEST… and include an abundance of touchpoints, thank you and please!

Word Solutions

WAITING ROOM vs. RECEPTION AREA or LOUNGE …either has a more calming implication,

If your schedule is delayed and the guest awaits…treat them like they’re on a vacation.

CLOSING, as in closing the deal…can imply termination or the end,

OPEN means the beginning…a partnership in the relationship trend.

EARNINGS gives you an accurate number…and practical information,

PROFIT indicates you have a gain…a positive interpretation.

A BILL is added to the stack on the desk…to get around to it when you can,

An INVOICE has better credibility… and details the payment plan.

SIGNING a document or APPROVING a treatment plan…which has a better feel?

If you selected APPROVING, you’re on the right track…to better guest appeal.

Select one or two words…three if you’re feeling quite smart,

Practice replacing the good with the better…a perfect place to start.

Communication strategies can positively impact your day-to-day profit and plan,

You’ll see changes in relationships by implementing positive chatter…and quickly become a fan.

Intentional vocabulary starts with awareness…and a willingness to adjust,

Begin by having a communication plan and a system that you trust.

Bonus: Watch How to Increase Treatment Case Acceptance from a Generational Approach

Patient Retention vs. Acquiring New Patients

Don’t get me wrong, new patients are important for practice growth, but retaining existing patients has a greater practice impact.

They know the drill…pun intended.

• Maintain practice loyalty
• Keep appointments
• Show up regularly
• Accept treatment
• Book next appointments

What Should You Do to Retain Your Loyal Patients?

Patients are looking at healthcare providers and practices differently. 

Prosites, a dental marketing company, outlined 25 ways to Get Patients to Love Your Dental Practice. By implementing some of these ideas into your marketing strategy, you will attract and retain more patients and experience faster practice growth.

  • Demonstrate Honesty, particularly when   relating to insurance acceptance
  • Offer Financial Assistance
  • Provide Flexible Scheduling
  • Deliver Same-Day Dentistry
  • Maintain 5-star Online Reviews
  • Recognize / Appreciate Patient Testimonials
  • Appointment Reminders
  • Incentivize Patient Referral
  • Run On-Time
  • Friendly Team

Solutions

Times have changed and patients are not as dedicated to our practices.  They are looking for an uber-customized experience.  If we are not providing that, they will look elsewhere.

How can we adapt?

  • Customize communication software to meet specific needs, generationally for example.
  • Engage the team in creating videos and messages. Use humor to increase patient engagement
  • Personalize texts
  • Always reschedule a broken appointment
  • Wellness calls work! Pick up the phone and chat!
  • Improve the patient experience at every opportunity

Cancellations and No-Show Solutions

This is a common theme for dental practices lately.

Communication: verbal, written, and virtual with continual reinforcement of the importance and value of the services our practice provides is essential. Creating a script, together as a team, with verbal skills that everyone uses regularly improves patient loyalty.

Try a few of these ideas to reverse the problem:

  • Rate your patients, A, B, and C based on reliability and payment status.
  • No-shows, cancellations, and outstanding balances should be lower-tier patients.
  • Create a  scheduling template for every provider and stick to it! It makes scheduling and filling holes much easier for everyone! Plus, it helps with practitioner efficiency. Such as three hygienists waiting for an exam at the top of the hour 5-6 times a day.
  • Allow one ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ pass for any scheduled procedure the patient cancels within 24 hours. Explain that the practice is busy, and patients are wait-listed to be scheduled. Respecting your practice time is appreciated.
  • Charge the patient a % of the scheduled procedure each time they cancel
  • Allow time in the schedule to provide same-day treatment. Your practice revenue will increase significantly.
  • “All hands-on deck”! Be persistent and consistent once you create a policy.

Dental practices are facing many challenges over the past few years with team shortages, turnover and a decrease in patient scheduling.  Doing the same thing we have always done will not change the way things are going.  A commitment to change is necessary to keep the boat from sinking and get all the entire team rowing in the right direction. It all starts with  communication and systems.

Bonus:  Watch Attracting and Retaining Dental Patients

Specialty Practice Communication: Challenges & Solutions Part II

Part II of this blog series will address the communication challenges and solutions with our Team Members and Practice.

Part I revealed details about the Patient interactions.

While presenting at AAOMS, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, we began the day with a group activity to identify daily communication challenges. The focus was on three areas: Patients, Players (team members), and Practice.

The diagram above reveals their responses in each category.

Players Challenges & Solutions

Expectations of the Team Are Not Well Defined or Communicated

When communication is not well defined or delivered, we become less impactful as a team.

Team communication starts with active listening by all members. Ask thought-provoking questions, be empathetic, and be flexible to increase understanding and decrease misinterpretations. Times are stressful and that impacts morale, health, wellness, and individual performance.

Build a team-centric culture so everyone is 100% involved and committed. Culture is the pulse of your practice! It is the tangible actions and beliefs of your team. It’s also what happens when the leader (not the boss) leaves the room.  A strong culture continues to gain momentum by inspiring everyone to participate and indivisibly links everyone together, no matter their department.

Here are a few team-centric ideas to try:

  • Attend team CE courses, live or virtual, all year.
  • Set goals for attending conferences and share information after the conference in a team meeting.
  • Assign a volunteer “wellness officer”, someone to check in on employee health and monitor the pulse of the practice.

Empower your team with problem-solving skills.

  • Have an SOP developed by the team members as a guide to handling specific situations:  team member conflict, difficult patient, HIPPA, OSHA…
  • Because the guidelines are rapidly changing, you need to have a leader to constantly study and update the APPROVED guidelines to keep everyone informed.
  • We can’t anticipate every issue that may occur, but you can prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills, which are crucial when facing an unanticipated situation.

Negative Team Feedback

Negativity is contagious and impacts everyone. What started as ONE now becomes many negative experiences. Getting to know each team member and their communication preferences is a great place to start.  Communication interpretation is generational as well.

There is a communication process that needs to occur regularly to promote teamwork.

During daily, weekly, monthly, and annual meetings, a facilitator/leader in the practice (not always the DDS) is responsible for making sure each staff member brings completed reality checks, acknowledgments, and quality requests.

Your team relationships benefit from increased meetings and intentional communications throughout the year. I offer a presentation to dental teams focusing on meeting structure and customized outcomes which can improve your productivity significantly

Practice Challenges & Solutions

Bi-Directional Miscommunication Between the Doctor(s) and Team Members

Levin Group’s 30-year ongoing study of the top 10% producing practices revealed that they all had a culture of accountability within the practice.

The study indicated six ways to improve accountability:

1. Deadline/CTA – No deadline = No accountability

2. Realistic Time Management – How long, relative to the deadline

3. Deadline Flexibility – Allow for positive negotiation

4. Encourage Comments – Creating new strategies for completing the task and allows for renegotiating a deadline

5. Explain the desired results – Understand the task assigned

6. Encourage Questions – Thoughtful questions save time and energy. The desired result is more likely to be achieved.

The more accountable the team, the more efficient the practice, and the better the systems are followed. This all typically leads to higher profit, performance, and productivity. Happy culture and satisfying careers for everyone. Every team member does what they agreed to do.

Incomplete Information from Referral Practice

Make it easy for practices to provide a complete referral document. Assign one person to spearhead the referral process so things don’t fall through the cracks.

Starting with the patient handoff in the referring office. Discuss the communications that occur before the patient meets your practice. Make it personal, positive, and professional.

For example:

Hygiene to Office Manager in a General Practice

“Sharon, this is Linda our office manager. She will be taking care of you to schedule your next appointment with the oral surgeon and answer any questions you have about the implant treatment we recommended today”.

Design a handoff blueprint that referring offices have as a template in their software. Hint, make all the fields required so they don’t skip any information. Referral information should be sent promptly and include all the information needed. Request that the patient schedules the appointment with your practice while they are in the referring office.

Customize the information you need specifically for the treatment recommended. Expand on this list in an all-team meeting.

  • Date seen
  • Pt Name
  • Pt Age
  • Special considerations
  • X-rays-sent electronically
  • Pt history of the area
  • Diagnosis
  • Instructions

Every office is unique in its communication challenges. However, some common, repetitive issues occur. The more organized we are in preparing our team and referring offices, the better the outcome for all.

Watch Communication Tips on Study Club Referrals

The Power of Social Media Reviews for Practice Growth

Never has it been so important for us to create a positive experience for every patient! If an unhappy patient decides to leave your practice, they can taint your reputation very quickly.

Everyone has a mobile phone and can effortlessly leave negative feedback about your practice across multiple social media platforms with the click of a button.

In the past, if a patient had a negative experience in your practice, they would email, write a letter, or call. Now they’re more likely to post a review online and send a single message that may receive thousands of impressions.

What’s In a Google Search

Google search “dentist near me,” and one of the first things you will see are practice reviews. Online reviews influence the way patients think about your practice. Your reputation is shaped by what patients are saying in online reviews. Patients look at online reviews to vet how and where they find healthcare.

According to research from 1-800-DENTIST, 70% of consumers indicate online dentist reviews are equally important as a dentist’s professional credentials! While this may make you feel like you have little control over how potential patients perceive your brand, you can, and should be, actively participate in improving your online presence. One of the best ways to do so is by responding to your reviews.

By responding to positive, negative, and neutral reviews and applying best practices, you can make a positive impact on your brand reputation and even boost financial outcomes.

CURVE published a helpful blog for AADOM about reviews. Here are a few highlights.

Start with the three “A’s”:

ASPIRE to create a patient experience that people feel compelled to let others know about.

ASK for a review.

  • 70% of consumers said they will leave a review for a business if they are simply asked to do so.
  • It’s an all-team sport! All team members should be requesting reviews from patients before they are dismissed.

AUTOMATE

  • Make the process easy for both you and your patients.
  • Can patients easily click a link on their computer or smartphone to leave a review and/or comment?

Responding to Negative Reviews

Respond directly in the review platform with a thank you from you and your team for all reviews. Negative reviews are humbling and difficult to respond to. However, they give you the opportunity to improve your patient experience. Respond directly in the platform to show other potential patients that you value feedback and remain HIPAA compliant.

Create a 4-step formula to respond to any negative review.

  1. Thank you
  2. Minimize apologizing
  3. Focus on customer experience
  4. Provide CTA (Call To Action)
Social Media Review Template

Response Template

1. Thank you for sharing your feedback.

2. We’re sorry your experience didn’t match your expectations.

3. Because of privacy regulations, we cannot discuss the specifics of your comments publicly. However, we are committed to providing you with high-quality care and take your feedback very seriously.

4. Please review the private message we sent to you. Our Patient Experience Manager will call you to discuss your recent appointment. We would love to make things right if you give us another chance.

The Power of Answering Social Media Reviews

Responding to reviews while maintaining confidentiality demonstrates professionalism, patient dedication, and the provider’s action plan to make things right. By offering to take the conversation offline your practice indicates a genuine desire to solve the problem or misunderstanding.

Reversing a Negative Experience

According to Dr. David Rice, Co-Founder of Ignite DDS, every patient experience should have zero bias and influence from the previous patient! Furthermore, it takes ELEVEN or more positive experiences to overcome ONE negative.

Negativity is contagious and impacts the team and patient.

What started as one now becomes many negative experiences.

More Communication Tips About Negative Reviews

Watch the video below.

Are You Asking Intentional Questions?

Asking intentional questions takes preparation and planning. The good news is we become more skilled at it as we practice.

An intentional question should be thought evoking and create a pause that generates curiosity. To ask an intentional question, we start by actively listening. Then, ask yourself, are you clear with the statement/question? Next, move to ask clarifying questions to enhance communications and relationships.

For example:

  • I am curious what you mean by…
  • Tell me more about that…
  • Help me understand what that looks like…

Clinical Application

Take time to observe and understand the patients’ behavioral styles.

“Katie mentioned you shared with her that you were a little nervous about today’s appointment. Tell me more about that so we can address your concerns and increase your comfort today.”

Delivering a patient’s ideal dental experience starts by addressing concerns and fears, and then discuss the best approach to providing the dental work needed. Acknowledging the patient’s fear and discussing the approach is psychologically comforting. By involving them in the solutions we build trust and provide a safe, comfortable environment.

Types of Questions

Distinct types of questions have their place in a conversation

Closed-ended question start with:  Will, Do /Does, Is, and Are

Open-ended question allow for conversation, increased knowledge, and information gathering. They begin with: What, How, and Why

Clinical Application

A clinical example of a closed-ended question looks like this.

  • Do you have any changes in your health or medications that we need to update?

Most people will say no so you can move on!

An open-ended question could be structured this way.

  • What medications, including OTC, vitamins, and supplements, you are currently taking?

When we use the right language, we get the information we need and more. This allows us to ask intentional questions, practice active listening, and guide the conversation to positively influence the patient’s dental journey in our practice.

Using Verbal Softeners

Clarifying questions should also include cooperative communication techniques. They are used both to prevent escalation and to defuse emotional situations.

Consider the way we say things to each other or your patients.

People don’t respond well to absolute, authoritarian, or harsh language.

Try using a sales training technique of inserting verbal softeners.

  • Phrases and words like “sometimes”, “it could be”, and “perhaps” state things in a less abrasive way.
  • Other softeners include “it’s possible,” and “occasionally.”

My favorite verbal softener is “perhaps.” 

  • “Perhaps we have had miscommunicated. Tell me more about your interpretation or expectations of the treatment plan we discussed last week.” 

Verbal softeners are valuable tools in helping you appear more cooperative and likable to prevent conflict.

Two actions you can clinically implement today are:

  1. Add an open-ended question to your health history requesting updated medications like above.
  2. Select a verbal softener and practice using it with patients during a conversation. It will become a habit very quickly.