In the modern marketplace, customers demand radical convenience from their service providers. If dental practitioners don’t change the way they deliver customer service to meet this demand, they’ll be left behind in a changing marketplace.
The most successful dental practices are continually looking for innovative ways to deliver faster and more convenient service. They are very smart about positioning themselves as the best and easiest choice for potential patients.
A Digital Office
A dental practice is built of more than bricks and mortar. It’s built on a foundation of customer service and goodwill. The way to build that goodwill is to provide the convenience that patients now expect.
Most potential patients start their customer journey online. The website of a dental practice serves as a digital office. The more information and convenience the website offers patients, the better. However, a website requires more than just static information.
Imagine that a potential patient is walking down the street and sees three dental offices. If there is somebody behind the front desk in the first office, the patient will stop walking and make an appointment.
Online chat can serve as the front desk for your digital office. A live website chat service offers a way to engage potential patients by answering initial questions or scheduling an appointment. It can free up staff time so they can spend their time doing what they are good at—providing patients with the best face-to-face customer experience possible.
More and more people prefer using online chat instead of making phone calls. That trend is growing. If smaller dental practices don’t find ways to offer chat services to meet this need, be assured that the big corporate dental practices will. They understand the game.
Challenges of Online Chat
Online chat services only work if they are consistently available. Trying to manage chat services in-house at a dental practice can be challenging. Integrating the obligations of chatting with potential patients while juggling their own busy schedules puts an extra burden on staff, leading to missed opportunities and cut corners.
There is also the consideration of whether existing staff members have the necessary skills to excel at online chats. For example, practices probably don’t hire front office coordinators for their excellent grammar and written communication skills. Primarily, practices hire them because they have great verbal skills. That doesn’t always translate to written communications. These people likely won’t represent the practice in writing as well as they do over the phone.
In addition, there is the economic challenge of trying to provide chat services in-house. It costs about $12,000 a month to fully staff a practice to provide 24/7 chat coverage. This can be cost-prohibitive to all but the largest practices.
Benefits of Outsourcing
So, the question is how can a small- to medium-sized dental practice offer consistent, quality 24/7 online chat services without overburdening staff or breaking the bank?
Outsourcing the chat services is one solution. It essentially lets you share the staffing cost among hundreds or thousands of other dental practices, making your return on investment a lot higher and giving your practice the assurance that every single time people chat on your website, they get a response.
Not every online chat provider is created equally, though. Many online services outsource their labor overseas and are generally designed to serve low-value customers. They are not designed to communicate with patients empathetically or to build rapport with them.
Look for services that employ trained chat specialists that are spelling and grammar certified. The best chat providers offer customized scripting to enhance the customer experience. For dental practices, it’s especially important for chat services be HIPAA compliant.
Summing It Up
Consumer expectations are changing. Dental practices cannot ignore the demand for radical convenience from potential clients. Live website chat service provides a means to give consumers the convenience they desire while taking away much of the burden of customer communication from staff. It is a tool that can give dental practices the power to provide patients a frictionless customer experience.
Mr. Hansen is the founder and CEO of DentistChats, a leading professionally managed website chat service exclusively for dentists. Once he was named director of his family’s dental practice in Kansas City, he immediately started implementing innovative marketing and sales systems. Over four years, and while earning his MBA, he earned the practice consecutive awards as one of the fastest growing businesses in the country. It was among the first in the country to adopt clear aligners as a long-term strategy and use technology, like online chat, to attract new patients in innovative ways. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.