Customer Service for Orthodontists

Welcome back to All Things Business for Physicians. In today’s episode, we’re chatting with Scott Hansen about customer service within the orthodontics industry. Scott is an entrepreneur and business growth consultant who’s offered his support and expertise to some of the country’s fastest-growing practices. (He’s also a Chiefs fan.)

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • How today’s patients are changing—plus the one thing patients now value more than ever.
  • The importance of efficiency in arranging consultations.
  • The current trends and business processes he sees in the top-performing offices.
  • Why execution of a system trumps the system itself every time (listen for his perfect example using office phones and how optimizing this system can translate to a six- or seven-figure difference for your practice).
  • The magic of offering “this or that” when scheduling.
  • Mitigating the challenge of internet leads and no-shows, and why it’s so important to go from “transactional” to “relational” communication with patients.
  • Why it’s important to let your staff members express their personalities while still getting the information they need during scripted phone calls.
  • A new approach to discussions about pricing.

Some key insights from Scott:

  • One of the biggest challenges within orthodontics is delivering service in a timely way that meets or exceeds patient-customer expectations. This actually matters more than ever, given the way that the nature of today’s patient is changing—a reality that market research reveals to us.
  • Another challenge to providing great orthodontics service is figuring out how to hire and retain high-quality staff members who genuinely want to serve others. Succeeding here will help you overcome the first challenge. Plus, Scott adds, when you hire great people, “it’s a lot more fun in the practice.”
  • “How you make people feel is the most important aspect of service,” Scott says, reminding us that grandiose build-outs in a practice don’t necessarily equate to better service. He finds that many of the top-performing orthodontics businesses actually have the simplest, most streamlined build-outs and they double down on building trust rather than implementing fancy features. “The [tools and systems] in and of themselves do not solve the problem,” he advises. “It’s how you use the systems [that really matter].”
  • Scott offers one elegantly simple tip to improve the customer experience through phone call scripting: offer two appointment times when scheduling a visit with a new or existing patient, and couch it in the terms of “Which one works best for your schedule?” This helps keep the high-priority times available for the more demanding patients while also getting new patients in the door more quickly and still honoring their autonomy.
  • Does your practice offer online scheduling? If so, Scott strongly advises that you’re able to offer appointment times within 72 hours. “If there’s a way to edit the software to not show appointments that are well into the future, the likelihood of those people showing up is even greater.” He also recommends that you get someone from your office on the phone with these patients to further promote trust, accountability, and follow-through.
  • When talking about pricing, and the customer experience in general, “It’s important to dissect what the patient is actually asking,” Scott says. Regarding price, he points out that people aren’t usually asking how much something costs. Instead, they’re trying to find out whether they can afford it. By providing honest answers that address this core concern—for instance, by informing them about flexible financing options—patients get the reassurance that you’ll fight for their budget and provide solutions they’re really looking for.
  • Scott reminds us that the principles he advises companies to use during first phone calls are the same ones companies should use during the in-office experience—ultimately, principles that foster personalized human connection. At no point in a customer’s interaction with your practice should a patient feel like they’re missing out on this. It’s key for optimizing the customer experience as well as your own practice’s success.

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