Does your business close down at Christmas?
If so, why so?
Do you close because you feel that it’s an opportune thing to do for your business?
Do you close because, for your business, Christmas time is a period of reduced demand for your products and services, and so it’s an opportune time for you to not be available, even though some of your customers may need you?
And that’s the point.
At what point do you say:
“Stuff you. I won’t be here.”
to your customers?
At what point is it OK to tell your customers to fend for themselves?
After all, you have a life….. why should you be there 24/7, or 365/24/7, just to be at the convenience of your customers?
After all, often when they need you in these times of less demand [Christmas/weekends/after-hours] it’s because they’ve not prioritised to see you for preventive measures during those REGULAR TIMES that your business is normally open for trading.
Isn’t that why our cars have annual rego inspections?
So that you just don’t run tyres out to baldness and blowouts?
And so if it’s good enough for cars to be looked after during regular working hours, why can’t people look after their teeth using a similar philosophy?
Everybody deserves a break, though….
Indeed, everybody does deserve a holiday.
Regular time off to recharge the body and the mind is essential for optimal human performance.
As one of my coaches used to say to me:
“David, ask your patients if they’d rather see a dentist who takes a holiday, or one who NEEDS a holiday…..”
Here’s what we used to do…
At my dental practice, there was always an employee available during regular business hours to answer the phone to help callers with their enquiries. Monday to Friday. Every week of the year.
Sometimes those enquiries are simply patients of the practice calling to schedule an appointment for something that is not urgent and not a relief of pain procedure, and they welcome and appreciate the service that they have been able to speak with a team member and verbally organise that appointment.
If a patient of record phoned or came in and needed to see a dentist that same day despite the fact that we had no dentist working, we would always be able to phone another dental practice we knew that was working and help out our patient by organising an appointment for them there.
And we would also do this if a new patient called our office in the same situation.
Our goal was always to help solve the dental problems of anyone who contacted our office during regular hours despite the fact that we may not have had a dentist available at our practice to see them.
As our practice grew to becoming a multi-practitioner practice we would roster a dentist each Christmas to be working at our practice to see any of our patients who needed urgent dental treatment while we were “not available” for regular dental scheduling.
And each Christmas we made a point of phoning and contacting all of our neighbouring dental practices to let them know that if they wished, we would be happy to help out any of their patients of record [and send them back] without any fear that we would “poach” their patients.
Sometimes during non-holiday periods…
Sometimes during non-holiday periods we might receive a phone call in the evening at our practice asking for an emergency appointment, when all clinicians had gone home for the evening.
In these instances, what we would do is this:
We would phone a nearby practice that we knew was open for extended hours and see whether we could get an appointment there for the person who had phoned us, no matter if the caller was a patient of ours or not.
After all, we were in the problem solving business.
What we found was that the callers to our practice were in AWE at the fact that our practice team had gone ABOVE AND BEYOND in the delivery of service to someone who may or may not have even been a patient of the practice.
And the following day, when that caller to our office received a follow-up phone call from our practice asking them how they got on at the extended hours practice, well let’s just say that we usually created a double WOW….
So when I phone a dental practice…
So, when I phone a dental practice [which I do regularly] and receive a message that the office is CLOSED FOR LUNCH BETWEEN 1pm and 2pm, or I receive a message rattling off the practice office hours, and the phone is going through to the message and we are still within those supposed hours of opening, well I just wonder how many of that dentist’s VALUED PATIENTS have phoned and listened to the same message and decided that as from that moment, they were going to be looking for another dentist….
Because that’s what actually happens….
Regular loyal patients of a dental practice do have some level of expectation that when they phone their dentist during regular opening hours they will speak to a real live human being who will solve their problem, rather than receiving a voice message that starts with:
“Sorry we missed your call. Your call is important to us….”
Yes. Your call is so important that we won’t even pay a dental receptionist to answer your call….
And dentists wonder why some loyal patients simply just stop coming back….
Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business