Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In this ecomony

Hey all,

Eleven days until my marathon. It is too late to do anything really meaningful in my training, so it is what it is. It is going to be a real struggle but I guess that is why it is called a marathon instead of "a nice little stroll through the city." 45,000 people entered in this race!!! Isn't that crazy? How do you manage that many people? I guess we are going to find out. Look for the "Chicago Marathon" blog; it is bound to be a classic.

I almost forgot - Silly Bandz. I know you know what they are. Well, have you ever seen a tooth silly band? We haven't. I Googled it, and there is nothing on it. So our office made them. We called a company and had 5 "Smiley Bandz" made. A molar, a tube of toothpaste, a thing of floss, a set of lips and a toothbrush. And we have packaged them in fives.

I think we are going to sell them for $1 to $1.50. We are going to go to the ADA this weekend and sell them to all those toy companies. I will also get the word out to our local pediatric dentists. I will tell you how it goes. I know the window for Silly Bandz is closing fast and I probably should have done this a year ago, but...

Topic -

I know I have talked about this before, but it keeps coming up so I am going to talk about it again. In this economy, consumers have some high expectations. And providing good service a given. You have to deliver a good product but if you don't do it with good customer service, you are done.

That is a good thing about this economy - the companies that have no business being in business are going out of business. I don't know how it was with you, but in Florida, we were forced to work with guys we just didn't like. The guys that were good and nice, they were booked out years in advance so if we wanted anything done, it amounted to, "Thank you sir, may I have another?"

I had a sign company that I was working with. They have been my sign company for over 6 years. We have this electric sign that has fluorescent lights behind it. It is about 18 years old, and is always giving us trouble. They are doing some minor repairs on it about two to three times a year.

Last year I had them place some bars on the sign that stick out. Now I can hang a banner out announcing something going on in our practice, like our Dentistry Day from the Heart, or a teeth whitening special that we do in December around the holidays, etc.

The last two times I called my sign guy, they said they were going to do it and never called me back. Hmmm. I chalked up the first one to, "It is just a $175 order." Maybe they are a big company and they don't deal with little things like that.

The second time I called them, they dropped the ball again. At that point it became a "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on you."

About three weeks, ago I called another guy that I have worked with in the past. This is the company I used to make my business cards and they did a pretty good job.
When I talked to him about this he told me he could do it. We both laughed at the poor service I got from the old place. I wanted him to make me a banner to market this Candy Buy Back I am doing for Halloween. He said no problem.

Usually when I put the ball in someone's court I just forget about it. But I was doing some thinking when I was running the other night, and realized this guy has not called me back. So I called him.

He gives me the "I am so sorry, it is on top of my pile. I am so going to get to it today." I could not believe this guy forgot about me. I hung up the phone shaking my head.

And when I was running last night, I realized that about 4 months ago I got the ball rolling on changing my letterhead. To put into perspective how overdue this is, I changed the colors in the office to warmer tones about 2 and a half years ago. Browns and tans and dark wood stuff to make it warmer. My letter head is still teal (hello 80s!).

About 4 months ago I had the guy in and we talked about what I wanted. I wanted what I have now but just with a different color paper. We narrowed it down to my top three. He printed them up and brought in about 9 different styles. We picked one but wanted to make some minor changes. We told him the changes and that was the last we heard from them. Are you kidding me?

Most of the time I try to delegate responsibility. One of my staff members was in charge of this whole deal. So I called and left a message on the machine and told this person (I know she gets the messages), and told her I wanted it done NOW.

At about noon today I was in my office and called her (from my phone in the back to her phone in the front because walking up there would be too much effort), and asked if she had followed up with the letterhead. She said she called and left a message and hadn't heard back.

Then I just sat there. I sat there in silence not knowing if I should blow a gasket right there or breathe and count to ten backwards. I did nothing and she said, "Do you want me to call them again?"

As calmly as I could, I said, "Yes, I think that would be a great idea."

As much as I want to pick on my staff, the ownership of this issue is definitely the printer. This guy has been our printer for about 20 years. We do everything through them. This kind of service is unacceptable.

I can't stand incompetence. I can't stand when I have 40 things to do on my desk and I check one of them off because I put the ball in someone else's court and they drop it. i have filed it away in the "taken care of" file.

And I am probably going to keep using this same printer because it would be too hard to switch; he has all our .jpg files and all our stuff. All we have to do is call and say, "I need 400 business cards," and they show up. But they have gone down on my happiness scale. And one more ball-dropping is going to be fairly costly to them.

But what is happening in your office? Do you get that call from a friend saying, "I called your office last week and tried to get a New Patient Exam appointment and I am waiting to hear back from your office. I think my previous dentist sent my x-rays?"

John, count to ten backwards. This makes my blood boil like you wouldn't believe.
I go to my staff and ask them about it. "Yeah, I called that doctor and requested the x-rays and they never sent them."

Then I say, "Okay, but do you see how this is making us look?"

Not calling back is totally unacceptable. You give the office a week. If they don't call you back or you don't have the x-rays in your hand, you call them again.
But after you call them again you call the patient again and tell them, "I tried to call your previous dentist and they dropped the ball. I called them again. We will give them one more chance and if they don't send them this time you are going to have to either go and pick them up or we will take some new ones."

But not doing anything is not the Gammichia standard. And it is my friend telling me this. How many times does it happen when it is not my friend? How many people are we dropping the ball on and just losing before they even come in the door?
We spend all that time talking internal marketing to our patients. They finally send one of their friends and we blow it before they even meet me.

Customer service - it will make you or break you. Go up front today and just talk to your peeps about how they do stuff. Go over you process. Do you have checks and balances? Does your front desk person have 65 post it notes for things to do?

It is YOUR office. It is YOU the patient is coming to see. I just hope they make it in to see YOU. Because we are about 90% and that has to improve.

I would like to hear you thoughts.

Have a great Wednesday,


Anonymous said...

But from your comments you are putting up with this nonsense. I don't. Find someone else. I don't care what people say about this economy. Because obviously they don't need the work or money because they don't even call you back. Or they are just lazy and stupid. But I find this is the norm and not the exception. I have money to pay you with and all you have to do if call me back with a price and show up and do the work. However like you said they don't even call back. So they don't get the work and no money. Go figure. Times are not as tough as everyone says it is what this tells me.

DMDrep said...

I think the opposite is true.

My theory is the economy got to this state from too many people taking customers for granted. If anything - only the strong will survive! If I was looking for a job or opportunity in this economy, I would be working harder than ever to make sure I was going to survive. Customer service would have to excel - and some companies and some people get that.

You should not put up with these levels of service - the economy is no excuse for poor service...



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