Mercedes-Benz earns its reputation as an industry leader in luxury vehicles through its commitment to its customers and its high-quality products. Customers of Mercedes-Benz expect premium customer service and experience from start to finish. In fact, the brand’s slogan even reads “The best or nothing.” In addition to the high-quality customer experience, Mercedes-Benz dealers optimize their marketing messages to generate results, regularly invite customers into their dealerships, and implement a consistent habit of customer outreach.
Dental practices can take away some best practices by looking at the luxury brand’s commitment to quality. At a glance, dentistry and the automotive industry could not seem more different from one another. But consider how both create a customer experience. Both dentistry and the automotive industry use advertising to reach more people, and both can earn patient or customer loyalty through the quality of the service provided. Lots of dealers sell cars, and plenty of dentists practice dentistry. But a practice can set itself apart in dentistry, as Mercedes-Benz has distinguished itself in the automotive space, by borrowing a few of the automaker’s strategies.
Strategically Allocate Marketing Spend
As a Mercedes-Benz dealership, spending $50,000 a month or more on marketing is common. With this kind of money on the line, it is imperative that dealers track their marketing efforts to get insight into which campaigns are producing and allocate marketing spend more effectively.
Although a single dental office may have a much smaller marketing budget, the importance of tracking marketing efforts remains equally important. Are the advertisements and promotions you’re paying for actually converting callers into booked appointments? Being able to answer this question will help your practice best allocate marketing dollars to the most successful marketing strategies.
To measure marketing success, track call outcomes to ensure you’re spending money on the marketing sources that are driving new patients and booked appointments for your practice. By tracking the number of appointments your sources generate, rather than just the number of calls coming from the source, you’ll be able to confidently decide which marketing practices have been successful or not so successful. Tracking call outcomes will provide your practice with the insight to best discern where to invest your practice’s marketing dollars.
Guide Patients to Optimal Outcomes
Mercedes dealerships do more than keep the lights on by inviting callers into the dealership. By inviting customers in for a test drive and setting expectations for a visit at the dealership, the dealer is laying the groundwork for an excellent customer experience. For example, the dealership may tell the prospective customer, “Arrive at 3 pm, park in the designated guest parking out front, ask for John at the reception desk, and we’ll take the E-Class and C-Class sedans you’ve had your eye on for a test drive to see which suits you.” This calms any anxiety around the visit and makes the customer feel valued.
Your practice shouldn’t be different in the way your staff thinks about handling calls. There is a stigma that dental practices shouldn’t extend appointment invitations to patients because it feels too pushy. However, patients who call with questions and never get asked if they’d like to come in for care are often left with unresolved dental issues and, likely, a poor experience.
Mercedes would not settle for this, and neither should your practice. The mindset of dentistry is to provide excellent care for patients. This is best achieved when patients actually make it into the dental chair. It’s the job of your phone handlers to lead patient conversations and guide patients to the optimal outcome for both parties.
To help convert callers into patients under your practice’s care, follow Mercedes’ example, invite your callers in, and set their expectations. Setting expectations for a dental visit could include telling your patient: “Arrive for your appointment 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork. Be sure to bring your driver’s license and insurance card. We have plenty of parking out front and free coffee in the waiting room. The hygienist will take you back for your cleaning and exam with Dr. John, which will take about 30 minutes.”Removing as much of the unknown as possible will improve the patient experience and minimize no-shows.
Implement a Habit of Outreach
Mercedes-Benz dealerships make a point of providing potential vehicle owners with a high-quality experience through strategic outreach. Prospective buyers who do not agree to a test drive on an initial phone call or leave the dealership without purchasing are followed up with to provide continued support and updates. Furthermore, prospective buyers who make a vehicle purchase receive check-in calls periodically to ensure the vehicle is performing up to expectations.
This practice of pursuing potential and new buyers translates across industries. Patients may not walk out of appointments with a $100,000 purchase, but they do walk out having received a service benefiting their well-being. Following up with patients after the initial interaction can look similar to how Mercedes-Benz dealerships pursue their customers.
The pursuit of patients looks like continuing a conversation when a phone call does not lead to a booked appointment, following up when a patient no-shows for an appointment, or calling after a patient receives care. In the first two examples, the patient has expressed some degree of interest, but has not been converted. They may not be completely vested yet. But by pursuing these missed opportunities, you’ll be more likely to add some more appointments to your calendar. The third example provides an opportunity for your practice to stand apart from the competition and ensure your patients are satisfied with the care they received.
Dental practices and DSOs can learn a thing or two (or three) from Mercedes-Benz about how to create a standard of luxury in dentistry. Comfortable chairs and a friendly persona will only take you so far. To bridge the gap between nice and luxury, you must implement a standard of excellence into your workflow.
Strategically allocating your marketing spend, guiding patients to an optimal outcome, and implementing a habit of outreach will allow your practice to rise above the common trap of settling for less than the best. Mercedes’ customers expect premium customer service and experience from start to finish. Dental practices can and should implement similar practices to provide the luxury care every patient deserves.
Mr. Johnson is a senior account executive at Call Box. Doctors and owners call him to increase their bottom line through enhancing the patient experience over the phone and converting more opportunities. He earned his MBA from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of North Carolina, where he studied how the power of data can affect organizational change. To learn more about Call Box and our innovative tools to help your practice leverage the phone, visit callbox.com/dental or call (833) 259-9484.