Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Patients, convenant or consumers

I can't stop watching the Olympics. I have to sleep drill because I am so tired but I can't turn it off. I have DVR so if I wanted I could just watch it the next day...but that is not acceptable. If Michael Phelps can win two gold medals in 54 minutes I can at least watch it live.

My wife is so confused about what Michael Phelps is going to do for a living.
It all stared when she asked what college he swam for. I said he didn't go to college.
She said, "What do you mean?"
I said, "He swims."
"What the heck does that mean?" she said.
I said swimming is like a job. He does it 8-10 hours a day. People go to college to get a job. He has a job and his education will have to wait, colleges will always be there.
She said, "What is he going to do after the Olympics?"
"Well, he is going to continue working." I said.
I told her I think there are meets all the time. The TV people kept talking about the "Worlds".
But if he wanted to retire after this year I think he would be doing okay for himself.
(I even told her maybe, he can afford some orthonathic surgery with his endorsement money).
I have heard $50 million dollars is what he is going to get from this little diddy of his.
Who needs college when you have all that kind of money? Just ask all the NBA stars. Yeah the ones living under a bridge 3 years after there last paycheck.

But the people I wonder about is the one time bronze medalist. I don't think the endorsement deals are that lucrative. I mean they will make money but not career money.
Do they quit school and devote the next 4 years of their life trying to get the gold (and the career money) or do they get a scholarship to go to a Division I school? Get there education and maybe make the team again in four years.
They really don't talk about these guys.
Or what about the fourth place guy or in 7th place. Yeah you are the 7th best athlete in the world at this event and you get this really nice USA swim gear for your efforts.

Okay, today's topic...
At church this weekend the preacher was talking about are we Covenant Christians or Consumer Christians.
I thought a lot about this and how it relates to my life. I brought it back to my work and thought about my patients.
Are they Covenant patients or consumer patients?

Let me explain.

In the Old Testament God made a covenant with His people. I will be your God and you will be my people.
This "covenant" meant that whatever we do, as crappy as we are, as sinful as we are God will always uphold His end of the bargain and continue to be our God.
The "Consumer" Christian is like it sounds. We are consumers. The relationship is very volatile.
If you are not living up to your end of the bargain I am going to go somewhere else. If God is not meeting my needs I am out of here.
I have a "Consumer" relationship with Publix (our local grocery store, I guess it might be Kroger or something in your area). If they have a clean store, if they sell me food at a fair price, if they do everything I want out of a grocery store, I will continue to shop at Publix.

Now lets bring this home to Dentistry (if you are not in the dental field...add in your profession).
I want Covenant patients.
I know this is a pipe dream but...I want a patient that says, "I love it hear and I am never going to leave."
I want patients that think I am all that and a bag of chip AND I am not perfect.
I want them to like me and my office and all its faults. I want them to believe in the stuff we are doing and have a relationship with us that is stronger than "what have you done for me lately."
Am I making sense?
I want to be able to be human. Where does it say in my brochures that I am the PERFECT dentist. Where does it say that we will be able to fulfill all your needs all the time and do it a price that you think, "wow that was cheap"?
I want them to know that I want the best for them. I want them to know that I try my best to do on them what I would do on my own family.
But it seems like people are so consumer oriented, myself included.
They lack commitment.
You are not perfect so I am going to go to the next new thing.
We do this with mechanics. We do this with stores. We do this with churches. And I sorry to say that people do this with Dentists.

Now I understand people leave my practice (man, I bet they are sorry now). I understand that I am not perfect and we make lots of mistakes. But the problem is that no one ever tells you that they are leaving and why they are leaving.
We make mistakes but we can't improve because we don't know which screw up was the back breaker.

So this is what I do. I try to make it relational.
At the first visit the first thing I do is go to a room that is not a operatory and talk to them.
And we don't talk about dentistry. I want to create something more than a dentist/patient relationship. I want them to see me as someone who cares about them. I am not saying that this is always a big hit but this is all I know how to do.
I talk about there work and their family.
Then I get into teeth questions. Then I get to educating them on stuff about teeth.
"WOW!! This guy is not your run of the mill dentist. No one has ever spent this kind of time with me. "
Does it equate to, "Man, they really screwed up my bill, but I like him and I will over look it"?
I don't know.

I have been pondering this all week. Now I want you to ponder it.
Do you have a patients that love you for you?
Do you have covenantal patients or consumer patients?
If you have covenantal patients let us know how you do it.

Have a great Wednesday,

1 comment:

Buckeyedental said...

Dear John
In years past there was more loyalty. Now a days we have to realy work at it. As we work at our patientexpect more from us. If you are a walk in clinic that is what they expect if you market your self as a tier 3 or 4 office that is what they expect and you better deliver.

Its like when you went to the Colony on Longboat Key you were expecting a level of service (4 star) but they gave you 2 star.

It sounds like you are doing a great job, but your patients are being trained to expect a great tier 3-4 experience. I think the old 80/20 rule is notvalid here if we can get 10 to 15 % as covenant patients we are doing good.

Have a great day!

Kim Shaw


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