Customer Service Remains Essential in an Always Changing Online World

Richard Gawel
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Dentists need reliable partners if they want to succeed. When it’s time to order supplies, learn a new technology, navigate shifting demographics, or figure out how to pay for it all, clinicians need more than a website to go to or a phone number to call. No matter how much the professional landscape changes, knowledgable and reliable customer service leads to success for everyone.

In this exclusive Q&A, Jonathan Koch, senior vice president and CEO of Henry Schein’s Global Dental Group, discusses how the company places the customer experience first in the competitive online marketplace, attends to the overlooked needs of dental professionals, and minds tomorrow’s trends today to set it apart from its competition and ensure that dentists can focus on what they do best—care for their patients.  

How has the Internet changed the way dentists purchase supplies and equipment?

We are seeing an increase in online orders year over year. However, in addition to our online ordering option, we continue to provide our customers with additional options that might better suit their needs, such as meeting in person with one of our highly trained sales consultants or specialists, or speaking by phone with one of our telesales representatives.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online ordering?  

Convenience and simplicity are the biggest advantages, given the ability to order 24/7 and see an assortment of offerings in every category. In addition, our customers can easily filter by a variety of product attributes to enable easier browsing and shopping and the ability to compare features and benefits. A “high-touch” experience with consultation is also available through our online chat feature. But the major disadvantage of using online-only sellers is the lack of education and insight that comes from a conversation with our knowledgeable sales consultants, which makes for a smarter buying decision and a richer experience.

How does Henry Schein set itself apart from these online services?  

More than anything else, we take care of the customer’s practice so they can take care of their patients. Henry Schein delivers the solutions healthcare professionals rely on to improve the performance of their practice so they can improve the lives of patients. We help customers grow their practice with services and solutions that simply aren’t available through an online-only seller. If a practice has an urgent equipment issue, for example, Henry Schein’s service technicians are there to get the practice up and running as soon as possible to minimize cancelled appointments and patient inconvenience, which is invaluable.

Overall, Henry Schein is much more than a supplier of products. While historically we have been associated with the distribution of healthcare products, we are increasingly focused on four critical solutions as part of our high-touch, full-service value proposition: business solutions, including equipment financing services, practice analysis, practice brokering, recruitment services, revenue cycle management, leasing advice, compliance support, and more; clinical solutions, such as a wide range of implants, orthodontic devices, and bone regeneration materials, as well as telemedicine and clinical decision support services; technology solutions, led by Henry Schein One, the joint venture behind the award-winning Dentrix practice management software, as well as a broad range of digital equipment, technical service, and on-site support; and supply chain solutions, including a best-in-class fulfillment system for product delivery, as well as inventory management systems. This is the value that Henry Schein brings to customers that online-only sellers can’t match.

Once the purchase is completed, what role does Henry Schein’s customer service play?

We provide full-service support across the entire customer journey online and offline. We offer so much more than just products. Our team of experts understands the many nuances of how a patient-focused, clinically based business works with one singular focus—delivering valued solutions to improve clinical outcomes and operational success. 

How does Henry Schein help its customers with technology, which is always changing?

We understand digital dentistry is evolving at an extremely rapid pace, and we are committed to helping our customers harness the power of technology to succeed. Our technology experts help customers choose the right digital technology to meet the unique needs of their practice, while helping to enhance the patient experience, provide predictable, quality care, and to improve practice efficiency and profitability.

We offer a broad selection of technologies, from intraoral scanners and CAD/CAM mills (such as CEREC, 3Shape Trios, and the Planmeca Planmill) to 2D/3D X-ray technology (such as the i-Cat and Dentsply Sirona Orthophos), DEXIS and Schick sensors, intraoral cameras, and caries detection devices. We also offer interoperability with our practice management software, Dentrix, for easy capture of the patient’s digital record. In addition, we provide the education, support, and service to help our customers see an optimal return on their technology investment.

We are also helping our customers use the power of technology to market their practice and stay highly engaged with their patients. Through our Henry Schein One business, our customers can combine their practice management software, such as Dentrix or Ortho 2, with marketing and patient engagement solutions, such as DemandForce, Lighthouse 360, and Officite, into one connected management system to help drive practice growth.

In short, our consultants understand the best way to incorporate emerging digital technology so that it meets the unique needs of each individual practice.

How does Henry Schein help its customers with financing?

Henry Schein Financial Services offers a portfolio of financing tools to help our customers achieve their business goals, such as equipment and technology financing and leasing, working capital loans, patient financing, our Henry Schein Mastercard, credit card processing, and student loan refinancing.

What are the biggest challenges in building and maintaining relationships with customers?

Our business is based on relationships, not transactions. Making sure we remain relevant to our customers—understanding their needs in this age of interoperability and connecting practitioners and laboratories to the right solutions—is the foundation of our business. Customers trust us because they know us and appreciate that we solve their daily problems while keeping their long-term interests in mind. We also have a long track record of reliability, which is the result of a continuous effort to help dental professionals operate more efficient practices and laboratories by providing new solutions and technologies for the ultimate benefit of patients.

Our suite of offerings includes more than 300 solutions in the following categories: business solutions that help customers successfully manage and grow their business; clinical solutions that help customers stay on the leading edge of patient care; technology solutions that help customers harness innovation to benefit the clinical setting and their patients; and supply chain solutions that provide customers with the industry’s broadest product selection and deepest inventory, delivering the right products at the right time. This is what our customers have come to expect, and it is why our customers rely on us.

How is Henry Schein responding to the needs of the changing demographics of dental professionals?  

There are a number of global forces influencing the dental communities we serve around the world. Together with our customers and supplier partners, we are developing programs in support of the increasing percentages of under-represented minorities and women in the US dentist workforce. 

As the demographics of the US population continue to evolve, increasing cultural and ethnic diversity in dentistry remains a given. This should be a priority for the profession, as today’s minorities will become the majority in our country in the decades ahead. As one of the four founding corporate sponsors of the ADA’s Diversity in Leadership Institute, we remain steadfast in our commitment to help foster leadership training and a corporate mentoring network within the dental industry to improve the business management skills of dentists from racial, ethnic, or gender backgrounds that have been underrepresented in such roles.

We also appreciate that more women than ever are graduating dental school and entering the profession. According to the ADA, nearly 50% of 2018 dental school graduates were women, and among the nearly 200,000 dentists working in dentistry, approximately 33% are female. This bodes well for dental service organizations, multisite practices, and general practitioners seeking a diverse and inclusive workplace. Through the Henry Schein Women’s Leadership Network, an employee-led resource group, we are partnering with professional associations and customers to empower, develop, and connect women—and men—to drive business success and access the tools and resources necessary to manage productive and efficient practices.

Looking ahead, what is Henry Schein doing to stay on top of current and future trends in the profession?

We are focused on being the most customer-centric partner in the marketplace. To achieve this, we launched a Voice of the Customer program to better understand what customers want and need, gather information on their satisfaction with the Henry Schein experience, and leverage feedback to help design products, services, and solutions to support their clinical and business outcomes.

By gathering customer feedback at critical touchpoints throughout their journey with Henry Schein, we can analyze their experience, assess where we may not be meeting expectations, and validate the areas of strength that differentiate us from our competitors. 

We will also continue to advance the practice management solutions we offer our customers, which will bring us even closer to our customers and deliver the best customer experience possible. In a very real sense, our customers’ success is our success.

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