I am very happy right now. We have a new store called Loft that just opened in Biltmore Park in Asheville. I love the clothes in that store, they are stylish, as well as comfortable and affordable, so what more could I want? Well, being me (and by now you know me) I want it all. When I walk into any place in which I will spend my money, or my time I want the best service and a great atmosphere (culture).
I get just that every time I enter Loft. I've been there 3 times in the week or so they've been open. (Hey, I lost some weight so I needed new clothes. Yes I feel a little guilty going there 3 times in one week, but that's my issue). Yesterday, I walked in and was greeted by Kris. He has just the right mix of willingness to help, without walking an inch behind you, loudly asking what size you need. When you tell him you're just looking he lets you know he's there if you need him, and then he leaves you to it. Thank you, Kris! He was responsive when a size needed to be found or a color matched, but he respected my desire to shop in peace. I noticed that he spent time straightening the clothes and was near enough to be able to respond quickly, but not so close to be considered a stalker. I found what I wanted easily and went to the register to pay. There I was greeted by Lindsay who was pleasant and warm as she invited me to return in June for their grand opening celebration. She was obviously proud to work for Loft and did her best to make it feel like family. When she had a hard time with my crazy last name, she referred to me as Miss Linda. I love that about the South, they'll find a way to show respect rather than just assume it's ok to call you by your given name.
By now you may be asking yourself,
"Ok, nice, you had a good time shopping, but WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH DENTISTRY?"
EVERYTHING. The store is brand new and pretty and clean. You might have a beautiful, state of the art office, but that doesn't guarantee satisfaction or success. You may provide excellent dentistry, but that doesn't guarantee anything either. Both are foundations that must be there to set the stage for success, but they are just the beginning.
To have true success in a store like Loft or a dental practice, or any business for that matter, you must have the right people creating a fantastic culture. They have to "get it". When a patient walks into your office, someone must be waiting to greet them and make them feel welcome, like Kris did when I entered Loft. It was almost as if he'd been expecting me. We have an advantage, we are expecting our patients and we know their names. Many times I've walked into a healthcare office and walked up to the front desk only to be waved toward the waiting room by the receptionist and have her index finger thumped on a piece of paper on a clipboard to indicate I should sign in while she finished her conversation with her husband about what he wants for dinner tonight ("and why should I have to do all the cooking since you're the one who gets home first, and I am going to teach our son to cook so he'll be a good husband and no, I'm not saying you're not a good husband but I do wish I'd married someone who cooked...yada, yada, yada.") Patients deserve to be greeted warmly and personally. Do you think that's happening in your office? Are you sure? It is your responsibility to make sure, don't just assume.
The culture is a feeling, a vibe; it moves like a living thing through every nook and cranny and it's there whether it's good or bad, and everyone feels it. The front desk is the first drumbeat the patient hears and feels so let her know how important that part of her job is. Every single member of the staff, including the dentist must pick up the beat. Every step the patient makes further into the office must feel as good as the first one. The staff and dentist must convey a sense of pride about what they do, how they do it and how it turns out. They should brag about each other to the patient. "Dr. Morgan is just great to work for, do you know he sent us all to the spa for the day last week?" "You'll love Julie! All our patients say their teeth have never felt so clean after she works on them!" "Annette is such a great person to work with, she's always fun and easy-going." "We are so happy that Brooke joined our staff. She is always so willing to help everyone!" When patients see that everyone likes each other it helps them relax because there is less tension in the office. Continue to keep the beat going when the treatment is complete by walking the patient to the front desk and telling them how much you enjoyed seeing them. If they had more extensive treatment, call them at the end of the day to see how they are doing. Do everything you can to keep the beat in their head long after treatment ends. That's what drives them to let others know just how great you are, just like Kris and Lindsay inspired me to write this blog. People want to share experiences that impress them and make them feel good.
And the beat goes on.