Nine Customer Service Ideas You Can Apply Today To Kick Start Your New Year

My friend and Customer Service Guru Shep Hyken recently published a list of fifteen customer service tips to kick-start your New Year.

Each tip has great relevance to the practice of Dentistry.

I’ve expanded below on my favourite points from that list.

Points #14 and #15

“Everyone always has two jobs: to do the job they were hired to do and to take care of the customer.”
“Be a customer service role model. Regardless of what you do for your company, be that person that everyone admires and wants to emulate.”

I’ve rolled these two tips together as I believe they belong together like knife and fork, and egg and spoon.

It is absolutely imperative in your organisation that everybody realises and believes that they are employed to look after their customers as well as being employed to do the job they are hired for.

How many times have you walked into a store and not been able to find something you are looking for?

Isn’t it so refreshing when you ask a store employee where you might find that thing you are there for, and the employee stops what they are doing and then walks with you through the store, engaging with you, and takes you right to the location of where that item is kept.

How different is that to just being given “general” directions?

I’ve recently walked into a Dental Office where the front desk people have failed to notice or recognise my arrival in their office, because they’ve either been too busy chatting and not watching the front door or they’ve been engrossed in their screen and not even bothered to look up.

Is that how they deal with all or most of the arrivals at their office?

If that’s the case, you’d have to think that with that sort of start to the Dental Visit, it really wouldn’t matter how good the dentistry or the service was down in the treatment rooms, it certainly would be difficult for the customer to “forget” this less than warm greeting.

I’d say, never let your greeters be too busy that they can’t be greeting.

This then relates back to Shep’s point #11

“Create a consistent experience. Everyone does their best every day. Customers want and expect a consistent, positive attitude from everyone they come into contact with.”

Points #2 and #5

“Speaking of basics, use the customer’s name. It helps with building rapport.”
“Let your customers know your name and how to contact you so if they are inadvertently disconnected, have another question, or there is any other reason they might need a “friend” at the company, they can easily get back in touch with you.”

Dale Carnegie said: “A man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the language.”

It is just common courtesy to always use our customers’ and patients’ names when we are talking to them and also when we are talking about them with other colleagues.

It shows a respect of the customer to use their name.

And conversely, it shows dramatic disrespect to use generic non-descript forms of recognition when we should be using their names.

Similarly, it’s always important to introduce ourselves by name to our customers as quickly as possible.

This is a very warm act of reciprocity that we use to break down those “Us and Them” barriers that often exist in a Dental Office.

“Thank you for calling XYZ Dental. This is Jodie. How may I help you?”

“Good morning! You must be Mrs. Smith. Welcome to ABC Dental. I’m Tanya. I spoke with you on the phone….”

“Good afternoon Mr. Jones. My name is Kelly. I’ll be assisting Dr Moffet with your appointment today. How’s your day been so far?”

Points #3, #6 and # 7

Always do what you say you are going to do. If you say you’ll call back in five minutes, don’t make it ten.”
“Respond quickly. Return calls, emails, and any other types of requests quickly.”
“Be punctual for meetings. It’s expected you will be on time. It’s a sign of disrespect if you aren’t.”

Patients and customers always notice your promptness and diligence at dealing with them and their concerns quickly.

And they’ll always remember if you delay getting back to them.

So be prompt.

Deal with their concerns as soon as you possibly can and not “when you’ve got time” to get around to it.

On that same note, be on time with your meetings and appointments.

A friend of mine’s father used to say:

“If you’re not fifteen minutes early, then you’re late.”

It’s a great mantra to have for life.

It’s also a very important trait to exhibit at the beginning of your morning and afternoon sessions of dentistry.

So many times I see Dentists and Assistant Dentists and staff arriving for work right on the time that the appointment is meant to be beginning, only to be greeted as they walk in the front door  by the patient who has arrived early.

This scenario is so wrong.

Respect your patients’ time with courtesy.

Point #9

Treat employees the way you want your customers treated, if not even better. What’s happening inside an organization is felt on the outside by the customer.”

If you want your team members to be giving great Customer Service and an Ultimate Patient Experience you must treat them exactly the same way that you treat and deal with your customers.

Always speak to your employees with the same tone and language that you use with your customers.

Always greet your employees each morning exactly the same way that you would greet a patient or customer.

And always take time during the day and at the end of the day to praise and thank each employee for their help and assistance that day.

It’s also wise to make sure that your employees are also treating each other in exactly the same way.

On a team, we are each other’s customers.

And we need to remember these things.

2015 is shaping up to being a year of great promise.
Follow these great tips from Shep Hyken and you’ll get the year off to a great start!

The Ultimate Patient Experience is a simple to build complete Customer Service system in itself that I developed that allowed me to create an extraordinary dental office in an ordinary Sydney suburb. If you’d like to know more, ask me about my free special report.

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Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a customer service expert, hall-of-fame speaker and New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. He works with organizations to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus, a customer service training program that helps organizations develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.  For more information contact (314) 692-2200 or