How I Chose My Dentist (The Importance of Customer Experience)
Consumers may not have an opinion on what business communications system you have in the background to help your business operate. What consumers have strong opinions on is having their needs met quickly, easily, and conveniently. Consumers care about customer experience to the extent that companies who execute customer strategy well and create positive customer interactions will win customer loyalty.
Customer experience plays an important part in all businesses, across every industry. Even medical emergencies—or in this case, a medical annoyance—have customer interactions to consider. Many factors, like ease of contact, responsiveness, and ability to quickly accommodate patients, correlate to the number of patients a doctor’s office attracts.
A customer need arises
As luck would have it, my medical issue arose over the course of a weekend: a sharp sensitivity on my back molar flaring upon inhale—while this wasn’t an emergency, it was certainly uncomfortable. Thus my search began for a dentist who fit my insurance plan, operated near my home, had an immediate opening, and could be a long-term fit.
Ease of use influences customer choice
I began searching online via my insurance company’s website for in-network dentists. The practices who provided direct links to their websites on the insurance search portal drew my attention first, because when it comes to searching for information, easier is better in my book. I settled on a dentist, Dr. Megan, filled out the convenient “Contact Us” form on the practice webpage, and made a note to follow-up when the office opened Monday morning.
Broken communications loses a sale
Fast-forward to Monday: I called Dr. Megan’s office multiple times with no response. I left a voicemail and an email. When I wasn’t contacted back within a couple of hours, my impatience combined with tooth sensitivity drove me to go back into the insurance site. There I found Dr. John’s site, which featured more communication channels, including a portal to schedule appointments online. I selected my preferred appointment time, filled out a brief questionnaire to explain what my dental needs were, provided my communication preferences, and I was set.
A streamlined experience earns business
Maybe an hour after I filled out my appointment, I received a call from Dr. John’s office to confirm my insurance was accepted, along with the option of filling out new patient forms prior to arrival to save the hassle of arriving extra early. The rapid follow-up of Dr. John’s office, combined with multiple communication options rapidly won me over. As a millennial, I want convenient communication options, and I want them now. This mindset reflects the mobile consumer trend which rewards businesses that expand the customer communications channels they support from the more traditional phone, email, and chat to include social media, RTC and beyond.
Going the extra mile by anticipating needs
The day of the appointment, I noticed an email with the tagline, “Your dentist says you can leave work/school early” which provided me with an appointment reminder and a form to print out as proof-of-appointment. Understanding many patients need a doctor’s note, Dr. John’s office took the liberty of providing one in advance of the appointment in an email, also serving as a friendly reminder to confirm the day’s appointment and arrive 15 minutes prior to appointment time. Anticipating patients’ needs and meeting them in advance showcases a positive experience for customers.
Turning business into loyalty
After a successful dentist appointment, Dr. John now boasts two new customers—my husband and I. How did this particular dental practice win our business?
- Having multiple channels of communication: a “contact us” form, an online booking tool, and a phone system with an office coordinator who answered
- Proactive preparation: once I booked an appointment online, the office coordinator reached out to me to confirm what new patients need to know and to answer any questions I had
- Customer-centric mentality: as someone in marketing who is no stranger to a doctor’s office, having a reminder email that also served as a functional doctor’s note assured me they seek to take care of not only my teeth, but any conflict that could arise as a result of taking time away from obligations to focus on dental hygiene as well
In contrast, I still have not heard from Dr. Megan’s office.
Customer experience strategy isn’t always the most glamorous subject, but it’s incredibly important to define your goals, align your strategy to support your goals, and ensure your technology is in place to see everything through from inception to execution—if you want to stay in business.
Need pointers on customer experience? Not sure what exactly customer experience entails? Know what customer experience entails, but aren’t sure your communications system is working for you, not against you?
Download Customer Experience for Dummies to learn more.