Your Chairside Manner May be Good, BUT That is Not Enough . . . the Future of Dentistry

I just moved to a new city.  New banks, new dry cleaners, and a need for a new dentist.  Our society values referrals now more than ever.  After talking to multiple acquaintances; some orthodontists, endodontist, oral surgeons and even calls to dental labs, the same name kept popping up.  Let’s call him Dr. Awesome.

In the dental world there is a very elaborate dance that occurs between general dentists and the referrals they make to specialist for braces, surgery, and other advanced tooth care issues.  Study groups of dental professionals who network and gain some addition knowledge; have at their core a need for referrals.

Such was the case with Dr. Awesome.

Then I made the discovery.  Just before I called Dr. Awesome’s office I did a two minute internet search.  Red flags!  Warning lights!  Clinically he is the best (according to his dental network) but the patients tell a different story.  In online posts they are appalled at the wait times, the lack of empathy by his staff, the “all-business” treatment they got, as they felt like just-another-number in a finely tuned machine.  Sure their teeth were fixed, but they expressed a distance, an almost anger at being squeezed financially.  They felt a lack of warmth.

When patients focus on costs at the expense of other value, then you can bet the offering needs more empathy, more warmth, a dose of charisma.

To Do’s to Fix It.

  1. Bad internet press will not go away. Ever. But, you can take steps to make it non-visible.  There are those who can make the bad public press fade into oblivion.  If you task your office staff to do this, it will come off self serving.  The public is too savvy for that.  For the amount of revenue dollars you are losing compared to the cost of getting it fixed, it is pennies on the dollar.
  2. Get some personality training and coaching. That student debt is a testament to the clinical skills you funded. New discoveries in interpersonal skills are not only powerful but personally rewarding.  Up your magnetism, up your charisma.
  3. Get outsider input on your practice. Your own staff is jaundiced and partial. They will defend their work and justify treatment of patients.  Who could even imagine that they might be insensitive?  That is not in our nature as we make excuses.  They don’t want you to think they are not doing it right.  Their paycheck would be at risk.
  4. Get some out-of-the-box training for you and your staff outside of the dental world. The newest dental treatment, the latest amalgam, the high tech tools will always be there. Insiders educating insiders . . . all of them dental world centric.  Incestuous.

Your patients, your customers are not comparing your practice to other practices.  They compare their experience to what they get at Apple, Disney, and Trader Joe’s.  Your competition is getting tougher because they, the patient, expects you to compete with charismatic organizations.

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