Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Emotional Environment in Your Office

It is no secret that we all make emotional decisions and then justify those emotional decisions with logic. While the dental office may seem like a logical environment, patients are making decisions all day long based on how they FEEL, not necessarily on what they know. So what are you doing to regulate or manage the emotional environment in your office? Beyond the personal treatment which is the most powerful emotional influence your patients feel, over the next few weeks we’ll consider some of the other powerful things in your office that have an influence on your patient’s emotions.

Emotional influence #1: Brag a little. What things do you intentionally place in your office that brag on you and what you do? The natural law of “Pre-heat” says that people believe more what they overhear than what they hear. The information that patients gather from independent, third party, trusted sources, will have a greater impact on them than anything you could tell them directly.

For example, what awards and certificates do you have on the walls of your office? Are they displayed prominently or do you have them hidden somewhere. Someone once said, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Patients are interested to know that their dentist is credentialed, certified, and knowledgeable about what he or she is doing. Give them that reassurance. Don’t hide it.

Articles from the local newspaper where you may have been featured for anything (unless it is your name featured in the police report!) Will Rogers once said, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.” To some degree, patients are the same. If it is in print, they have a tendency to believe it more than if they just hear it directly from you.

Pictures. Don’t just put pictures of beautiful smiles on your wall, put up pictures of yourself with well-known people; especially well-known people in the community. Mother always said, “You are known by the company you keep.” Your patients judge you the same way. If you are associated with people they trust, they will trust you as well. You take on the same characteristics in people’s minds as those with whom you associate.

Letters. Just about every office I know of receives letters or notes from time to time from happy, satisfied patients. Where are those letters now? There is only one place they should be and that is on the reception room table with the patient’s permission of course. We have always called it a “brag book.” Letting your patients know how other patients feel about you in their own words has a powerful effect. By reading page after page of testimonials, a patient can’t help but think, “All of these people can’t be wrong. I think I have made the right decision.”

Take a quick inventory this week of the intentional identifiers you have placed in your office. What other items could you add that would give off an even more powerful impression resulting in patient confidence and reassurance? Any time is a good time to increase your emotional influence.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Ego Drive / Empathy Secret

The Gas Peddle and the Breaks
The Ego Drive - Empathy Secret to Case Acceptance

When you jumped in the car this morning, you intuitively managed to balance two opposing forces that, working together, safely helped you arrive at your desired destination.

The gas peddle provides acceleration and speed. Properly applied within the given speed limits, applying the gas peddle allows you to get to where you want to go in the quickest way possible.

The breaks, on the other hand, give you a tool to manage your speed. Going to fast? Apply the breaks to keep from crashing into the car in front of you. Stoplight ahead? The breaks help you come to a complete stop until it is safe to proceed.

It is the proper use of the gas peddle and the breaks that gives us the convenience of reaching our desired destination safely at a much faster pace.

In the same way that the gas peddle and the breaks work together, there are two ingredients to outstanding case acceptance that must be present and work in harmony to achieve outstanding results.

Ego drive is the “gas”. It is the need to achieve; the innate desire to get a “yes.” It is ego drive that keeps us asking discovery questions and seeking for a common ground with the other person. It is ego drive that asks for a commitment at the end. It is ego drive that basks in the thrill of having the other person say “yes” to you and your treatment proposition. Ego drive is the internal gas peddle of the entire case acceptance “car.”

Empathy on the other hand is the “breaks.” It intuitively surveys all of the verbal and nonverbal signs in the environment sensing when things may be moving too fast or too slow. Empathy is always reading the cues from the people in the environment to see how they are feeling and how they are responding. If things are moving too slow, empathy will trigger the ego drive “gas peddle” to speed things up and move ahead. If empathy senses that things are moving too fast, it will apply the breaks to keep things at a more manageable and safe speed in order to “arrive alive” at the desired case acceptance destination.

So how much ego drive and empathy do you have? If you don’t have much ego drive; if you don’t get much of a thrill when patients accept treatment, it might be time to revisit your vision and goals. What are the things you are really passionate about that really get you going to step out of your comfort zone to ASK the other person to take action? Without desire, an overriding vision, a goal, and a passion, it is not likely that ego drive will be very high and thus…case acceptance will suffer.

Just as important, how’s your empathy? Without it, you don’t have the ability to “feel with” your patient and sense their concerns. In fact, ego drive without empathy is like a run away truck roaring down a steep mountain road with no breaks. With nothing to slow it down, the result will be a disastrous wreck. Conversely, too much empathy with little ego drive is like a beautiful car without an engine or gas. People may come by and admire its looks, but if it won’t go anywhere, who is going to buy it?

So how to you measure your level of ego drive and empathy? Take a look at your current results. How often do you present and really ask patients to accept treatment? Ego drive pushes you to ASK. Empathy, on the other hand, can be measured by patient retention, referrals, and patient loyalty. They come back and refer because they feel good, because they feel like you understand them, because they feel your empathy.

Which skill do you need to develop more; ego drive or empathy? Or do you need to work on the balance? They are both essential just like the gas peddle and the breaks. When they work together in balance, they create case acceptance magic that will move your practice results quickly and safely to the next destination of practice growth.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

No one wants what you have!

A lot of what is wrong with dentistry is that many are under the mistaken certainty that patients really want the services dentistry provides. WRONG! People don’t really WANT a cleaning, They don’t want a root canal. They don’t want a crown, filling or even a veneer. They don’t WANT any of these things.

Let me explain…

A man went to the hardware store because he was hanging a large picture at home and did not have the right sized drill bit to drill the hole. As he was looking in the section displaying the drill bits, a stock clerk came by and said, “I see you need a drill bit.” The man replied, “No, I need a hole!”

In the same way that buying the right sized drill bit would help the man get what he really wanted – a hole and a well positioned picture on his wall, patients are only buying what dentistry has to provide because they perceive that it will help them get what they really want. So what do patients really want? How about:
  • Money savings
  • Appearance improvement, self esteem, social acceptance
  • Time savings
  • Comfort, avoid pain, or more peace of mind
  • Health
Those are the things patients really want. Now think back to the conversations that you have had with your patients over the last week. How much of your time did you spend talking with them about what they really want vs. just the service you provide? Too often we make the mistake of talking exclusively about what we do – fillings, cleanings, crowns, etc. and forget why people come to the dentist in the first place. It’s about what they WANT, not the service you provide. If it weren’t for the things they really WANT, no one would come for your service. They don’t want your service. They WANT the things that your service gives them. Get more focused on the benefits of your service and finding out what benefits each patient is really interested in and patients will repeat and refer others because you are giving them more of what they really WANT instead of just giving them a dental procedure.

Stay focused this week on discussing more with your patients the things they are really interested in -- the benefits that your service can provide and you will see a marked difference in the attention they give to the services you provide.