Friday, November 13, 2009

Make it easy for patients to say "Yes"

Several years ago, Cheryl and I were looking to upgrade the “sorority house.” (With six daughters and a great wife, that is what I call our home!)

During the process, we ran into an exceptional salesman who was hosting an open house in a new development we were considering. Cheryl’s first impression of the house was positive so we went in. Within moments, she was taken with the floor plan, design, and d├ęcor. Then she started asking “buying questions” like these:
"Do you have a plan that includes an additional buffet in the kitchen?"
"I would prefer the front stairway to be hardwood instead of carpet. Do you have that?"
"The bay windows are beautiful. Can we have those all across the family room in the back?"

As I listened to his responses, I realized that he never once told her "NO" or that she could not have what she wanted even when she couldn’t. If there was something that was not available or a request he could not accommodate, he simply responded by giving her options of what WAS available. By never telling her “no” he gave her lots of opportunities to say “yes.”

He was a real pro. Not slick, just accommodating and very engaging. I really started enjoying watching him operate. It was almost like a tennis match. Cheryl would pitch him a question to which he would respond with alternatives from which to choose.

“Can I get the cupboards in boysenberry blue?” If they did not have that color, he responded, “Cheryl, we have several blues from which to choose. Do you think you would prefer Ocean Pacific or Deep Sea Blue better?” He always gave her something to which she could say “yes!”

After his spectacular performance, I complimented him on his communication skills and professionalism. Then I asked him where he learned to do that. “I am a former 6th grade school teacher,” he said. He told us that he learned early on with 12 year-olds that it was easier to give them lots of opportunities to say “yes” instead of telling them “no.”

There are many opportunities in the dental office where the immediate answer may not be “yes.” But with some creativity and quick thinking, you can always give the patient some options to choose from to which they can say “yes.” Here are some examples:

Patient: “Can you send me a bill?”

Team member: “We have several payment options available Mrs. Jones. Would it be easier for you to leave us with a credit card number or would you be interested in our third party payment program?”

Patient: “Are you open Saturday?”

Team member: It sounds like you have a busy schedule. In addition to Saturdays, what other times during the week to you have that might be a possibility so I can explore all the options?”

Every day there are temptations to say “no.” When those come up, give patients options to which they can say “yes.” Give them lots of choices and you’ll start hearing “yes” more often.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Make the appointment "Exclusvie"

While speaking this week to the Empire State Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, we talked about The Law of Exclusivity: Most people want what few people can get.

Think about it, you always want access to the exclusive places and things to which only “the few” have access.

Here’s a reminder about an idea that will help make your key appointments more exclusive, more highly valued by your patients and help you have more committed patients.

Critical ingredients of the “exclusive” pre-paid appointment:

1. Determine the benefits to the patient of having a pre-paid appointment: More value is placed on their appointment time. You are reserving the time “exclusively” for them. They will have more comfort knowing that they are important enough that you take their time seriously. Additionally, consider the benefit to the practice: Fewer cancellations and more committed patients. Be clear on your purpose AND the benefits to your patients so that you design a system that gets the result that you want.

2. Pick a dollar amount or appointment length for which you have your patients pre-pay. The longer the appointment length, the more of your time you are dedicating to them and the more “exclusive” that appointment should be. A commitment from them is certainly reasonable. For example, when you make reservations at a high-end hotel, if you will be checking in after 6 PM, your first night is paid for in advance. Why? Because they are setting aside a valuable resource, a room, especially for you. If you are not there by 6, they would rather sell that room to someone else in case you don’t show. So, if you want the “exclusive” privilege and convenience of a guaranteed room reservation, you get the opportunity to pay for it in advance.

3. Here is some verbiage that you might want to consider for positioning the exclusive, pre-paid appointment:

"Mrs. Jones, your next appointment for your _________ will be for two hours. In order to reserve that time exclusively for you on the doctor's schedule, there is a reservation fee of $_____ that will be applied to your total amount due. You are welcome to use any major credit card or a check. Which of those would be most convenient for you today?”

The implied message is that they are buying the “exclusive” time of the doctor. It sheds a whole new light on everything. At first they thought they were just “buying” the treatment. A pre-paid reservation signals exclusivity of the time of the expert. It sends a higher level message and engages your patients in an additional way.

4. You can extend another level of convenience by offering the following:

“Mrs. Jones, many of our patients appreciate the convenience of taking care of their balance for the treatment on the same card so they don't have to worry about payment on the day of treatment. We usually take care of that on the Monday before your appointment. Does that work OK for you?”

That may not work for everyone, but the more you can separate the payment from the appointment, the better. That way patients don’t get the financial flu on the day of treatment! Remember, you want to send the message that what they are reserving and buying is “exclusive” time, not just dental treatment.

The most valued commodity today that people have is their time. When you take their time seriously and make your time “exclusive” your patient will value you, your practice and your time more highly.

Benefit from the Law of Exclusivity by making everyone’s time more exclusive: Yours and your patient’s. They will treat you better, respect you more, and follow through when you and your time are “exclusive.”