Everyone knows that 5-stars represent the pinnacle. Not so fast. There’s better!
The definition of the 5-Star level of service often involves specific amenities, attitudes, or tactics used to enhance the customer experience. Most of these are implemented by people who have no true relationship to the customer or patient. And if there is some relationship, they are superficial at best.
Some of these tactics may delayed or of an “automatic” nature, part of a system. Appropriate, above expectations, perhaps even extravagant, they add up to impart a feeling and overall sense of having had a 5-star experience.
But there’s an even higher level of extraordinary service.
Alice W. was a VIP patient, referred by her Concierge Physician via a personal phone call, which automatically initiated our VIP, concierge services. When a physician has a VIP patient to refer, they often pick up the phone and want to speak directly to the doctor, a service most appreciated. We did likewise when referring our VIP patients elsewhere.
Of course, most of the ensuing non-office interaction, the appointment negotiations and financial arrangements took place between her “people” and the front desk, “my people”. It’s an added layer of bureaucracy that we were accustomed to.
When Alice came into the office, she experienced our 7-Star service. Her treatment room (the most spacious and private) was made ready 1/2 hour earlier. It was meticulously prepared with every amenity; pillow, blanket, headphone, iPad loaded with music and videos, and a choice of mouthwash and more.
One VIP patient had his own slippers that were kept in the office, as he insisted on removing his shoes while in the treatment chair. Another had a special back support that we kept just for her.
This VIP patient was lovely. Many VIP’s, in my personal experience, are wonderful, not overtly demanding people who have the same dental phobias and sensitivities as anyone else. They are just used to a different level of service.
Once, when her “people” cancelled her appointment, an inquiry was made as to the reason. Such an inquiry is commonplace in a 5-star service system.
This time, the reason for the cancellation set off a flurry of activity. She was to be hospitalized.
The front desk informed me. I then called the referring Physician to get more information. The procedure she had would require an overnight stay.
I made sure that I visited her that evening in the hospital on my way home.
Alice was surprised and yet welcomed the visit. Most of her relatives lived in Arkansas. So, I was the only one there, in the recovery room. We chatted for nearly an hour.
Alice recovered and returned to the practice to continue her oral health care.
This was not the only time such 7-star services were given. As a team, we sought out such opportunities. And when one was found, we pounced.
Home visits and deliveries, special networking opportunities, advice for friends, relativesand colleagues, were just some of what we did for anyone, whenever possible, not just for VIPS.
Going to a nursing home to deliver care. Delivering a denture to a patient who became homebound. Coming in on a weekend for a friend of a patient who was visiting from out of town. These are examples of a practice that extends beyond the 4 walls of an office. The 7-Star Practice engages people in ways that make them feel ‘loved’ and cared for. People feel that they are more than just a patient of the practice but are a valued friend.
But of what value are these 7-star services if they are not promoted?
They are immense value to our team, many of whom have never experienced even 5-star service. It opens the eyes of people who are already desperate to serve others, to new ways of doing so.
Oh yes, people desperate to serve others, was a primary hiring criterion, without which any 5 or certainly 7-star service system will surely fail.
Of course, somehow the word did manage to reach the referring doctor (or other source). That too was purposeful. Just as the referral was made personally by the Physician, so too was the follow-up made by me to the Phsyician.
It is important that referral sources know that we go out of our way to make them look good. What better way, than to do something surprising, unexpected, and exceptional. Not just the dentistry, but the service.
“Thank-you for blessing us with the opportunity to do a good deed.” That was what we said to any referral source because that is what we truly believe.
Performing acts of loving kindness, what in Judaism is called CHESED, is a virtue I hold dear. All of my team did as well.
How better to cement relationships than by making the other person in the relationship proud to be in it.
Yes, I visited a very wealthy woman in the hospital. But what that meant to the referring physician and the team made an even greater impact.
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To 7-Star Service and Physician Referrals,