Who’s your customer?

In order to compete in today’s healthcare market, dentists running private practices need to also think of their practice as a business, know the channels through which their business communicates with and reaches paying customers, then cultivate those channels.

Endodontics is a Referral Business

For specialists like endodontists, the vast majority of patients are referred to them by general dentists, who in effect act as their ‘sales agents’. However, unlike a typical sales agent, general dentists are not generally paid a monetary fee for referring patients. Instead, general dentists are ‘paid’ with the currency of service, care, and trust. Both the service provided directly to them as well as in the care provided to their patients. They need to trust their patients will be provided the utmost care, compassion, attention, and thoughtful followup.

Benefits and Costs of Referring

The value of service is the difference between benefits and costs. For a general dentist, the benefits of referring to an endodontist may be better equipment, additional chair capacity, or specialized skills. Benefits of referring to a particular endodontist over others may include the extra time and attention patients are given by the endodontist throughout their visits, their track record of successful treatment outcomes — both physical and emotional, their consistent and outstanding reliability in following up with patients after treatment, their ability to cultivate positive patient perceptions and online reputations, the particular ease experienced when coordinating treatments with them, the extra visibility they provide into patient status, and the ease experienced in communicating with them when needed. The costs considered when referring to an endodontist may include costs of disruption, risks of poor patient outcomes, risks of poor patient perceptions, lack of visibility into patient status, difficulties coordinating treatments and communicating with them when needed, and others.

General Dentists are Customers

To win in a competitive market , it’s important for endodontists to increase the value of their service to general dentists and their patients. Deliver more benefits and satisfaction at lower cost to general dentists. Provide the most comprehensive physical and emotional care and attention to patients throughout their office visit and after. To do so begins with a clear ‘customer orientation’ that guides the behaviors of every member of an endodontic clinic’s staff in how to provide excellent customer service both to general dentists and to the general dentist’s customers, their patients.

Your endodontic clinic practices both medicine and business. Orient your customer service to your referring general dentists. The better your endodontic practice works with your general dentists, the more everyone wins, including, most importantly, the patients you share.