The highest goal and how to achieve it: Customer satisfaction

The concept of lean management is centered around the systematic optimization of value-added supplies by reducing everything else (waste). Lean thinking is a remarkable method used in the manufacturing and service-giving industries as a vehicle for enhanced productivity and customer satisfaction.

Interestingly, the ultimate goal of lean management is customer satisfaction.

Who are the “Customers”?

Why, of course, the patients, right? Well, not exclusively. Consider all those who are connected to your practice as “customers” such as your employees, your colleagues, or your partner companies. This way, you will learn to have their needs, worries, and their wishes in mind.

We can categorize customers into two groups: external and internal customers.

  • External customers: Those customers that are outside the practice – patients, referrers, colleagues, partner companies, suppliers, etc.
  • Internal customers: Those customers that are within the practice – employees, boss, etc.

What is your patient’s idea of satisfaction?

In orthodontic practices, the patient is often not the only person we treat. We distinguish patients between two groups – the “mature” or adult patients and the “underage” or the child. This calls for another “second customer”, namely the parents so we have a kind of “customer combination”.

It is apt to note that the primary goals of the patient may vary widely from yours, the dentist. While the patient prioritizes a beautiful smile or aesthetically pleasing look, dental and oral health may only come second. But until this satisfaction is reached, your patient walks a long journey with you. In doing so, you must strive to build up a positive bond that goes hand in hand with classic service factors.

How can you promote customer satisfaction?

Apart from the purely professional outlook, what does a patient value the most? Factors like waiting time for an appointment, waiting time in the practice, speedy treatments, avoidance of pain, gentle treatments, the lowest possible costs, understandable information, attention, friendliness, low demands on cooperation, appreciative interaction, amongst many others are important to the patient.

And you must try and fulfill each bubble. Here’s how you do that:

1. Service list

No one likes a longer waiting period, and your patients are no different. But there is a way to efficiently handle patient dissatisfaction with the help of a so-called service list. It is a patient recall list in case an appointment becomes available earlier because of another patient’s unprecedented illness or sudden cancellation.

If a patient makes an appointment in 8 weeks, you tell him directly that the long waiting time is unfortunate but be rest assured because you’d put him on your service list. You confidently tell him that if an earlier appointment becomes available, that he’d be the first person you’d consider and offer the earlier appointment.

Of course, you have to keep what you promise and a week later if he receives a call from you joyously affirming an earlier appointment for him, it will show attention and create trust. This raises patient satisfaction.

2. Online scheduling

In order to offer precise appointment bookings online, these corresponding dates must be blocked in the practice calendar. Now, to avoid these dates from going unused, you can consider, for example, that if the online dates are offered with a time delay that the empty time reduced by half is fairly conceivable.

The service list also makes short-term replacements possible. It should be mandatory to contact patients before their appointments. If a patient is out of reach, you can assume the probability that he or she will not come to the appointment. For this, you can then take appropriate measures.

3. Waiting time with online anamnesis sheet and bridging information

Once the appointment has been made and the patient’s personal details have been recorded, we send the patient an anamnesis form to be filled online. This is a useful way of bridging the time until the appointment. Doing so will help save time on the day of the appointment because then you’d not have to reserve time for filling out the details in the waiting room.

Additionally, with the help of the online form, you can send the patient individually tailored information material in advance so that you’re not surprised during the appointment. By offering to do so, you are taking care of your patient’s wishes in a targeted, time-saving and efficient manner.

4. Call before the appointment

Contacting the patient by telephone the day before the appointment can help clarify any last-minute questions in advance or take on further special wishes. Also, you must make sure that the patient arrives on time by giving tips for parking, the best routes, etc. Make your patient feel welcomed!

Patient satisfaction an essential measurement to keep your current customers, attract prospect customers, and retain the new, converted ones. Dissatisfied customers are a high-hazard retention risk and losing them can substantially hurt your brand.

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