SmileDirectClub Updates Its Operating Model

Dentistry Today


SmileDirectClub will update its operating model to ensure greater transparency of its procedures and provide effective training for its team members, according to the company, which says that it has conducted a thorough review of its customer experience to uphold its commitment to safe, affordable, access to care.

Changes include prescreening requirements, SmileShop training, communication with treatment teams and doctors, simplified refunds, automated manufacturing, and insurance coverage.  

For example, SmileDirectClub is adjusting its consent form to ensure that customers understand the need to verify that they have visited a dentist within six months of starting treatment with the company and have not reported any pain or other clinical concerns specific to their oral health. A prior visit to a dentist is an important part of any good oral health program, SmileDirectClub says, and has always been a requirement to begin its treatment.

Next, SmileShop team members have received additional training to ensure consistent, clear, and effective communication with customers regarding teledentistry and SmileDirectClub’s consent form. Although many SmileGuides are dental assistants and hygienists, when they are in the SmileShops, they are not engaged in that capacity, do not practice dentistry, and are not able to answer clinical questions about clear aligner therapy or treatment plans. 

SmileGuides provide general information about the company, its teledentistry platform, and its SmilePay program, as well as gather information for subsequent review, assessment, and diagnosis by one of the more than 250 dentists and orthodontists in the affiliated doctor network.

Should customers wish to speak to a dentist or orthodontist in the network, SmileGuides may provide information on how to do so. This training is being rolled out across all shops and is a mandatory part of the onboarding process for all new SmileShop team members.

Since its founding, SmileDirectClub says, every customer’s treatment is prescribed and overseen by a dentist or orthodontist licensed to practice in the customer’s state. Each customer will receive the name and contact information of their treating dentist or orthodontist, upon approval of the treatment plan, making staying connected throughout treatment simple, the company says. Also, SmileDirectClub will provide a dedicated email and phone number for any customer who wishes to speak with an affiliated dentist or orthodontist prior to starting their treatment. 

Plus, SmileDirectClub says it is improving its refund timelines and making its refund policy clearer. Its Smile Guarantee continues to offer a full refund without questions or conditions for any reason within 30 days of receiving aligners. Customers who seek a refund outside of the Smile Guarantee window may receive a partial refund for any unused aligners. The company says its customer service team will continue to work with any customer to offer additional refinements or referral to a brick and mortar practice for follow-up.

Also, SmileDirectClub says it has automated its manufacturing lines to significantly reduce delivery and shipping timelines for both new orders and midcourse corrections and retainers. While the company notes that it has a 95% satisfaction rate, it also says it has grown quickly, which has resulted in complaints from customers regarding shipping time.

The shift to automated manufacturing is intended to address this concern, and SmileDirectClub says it has made significant progress in reducing shipping time. Later this year, it will expand its manufacturing capabilities with the opening of its second facility in Kyle, Texas, which is expected to reduce shipping time even further. 

Finally, SmileDirectClub says that its clear aligner therapy is already offered in-network for adult orthodontia treatment in some corporate plans provided by United Healthcare and Aetna. The company adds that it is committed to expanding access to affordable, premium oral care products and will continue to seek additional network partners to join in this mission. Customers also may use HSA and FSA funds to purchase clear aligner therapy through SmileDirectClub, it says.

“We are a mission-driven, customer-first business, and we are taking every step necessary to ensure that all of our club members receive the care and experience they deserve,” said David Katzman, chief executive officer, SmileDirectClub.

“As the leader in the teledentistry space, we are constantly evaluating our processes and listening to all feedback in order to ensure our customers receive a positive experience that delivers on our mission to provide affordable, convenient access to care. In a time when the convenience and safety of telehealth is increasingly critical, we are focused on ensuring a safe and effective option for consumers,” Katzman said.

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