Finding a win-win scenario at the dentist

August 26, 2013 Categories: Case Study

Very few people enjoy going to dentist and having to pay for the privilege makes it pretty much a lose-lose scenario for the patient. And if the patient is unhappy, the dentist is likely to lose out too.

Very few people enjoy going to dentist and having to pay for the privilege makes it pretty much a lose-lose scenario for the patient. And if the patient is unhappy, the dentist is likely to lose out too.

In my work as a professional coach, I am always looking for win-win outcomes – for everyone involved.

So I’m going to share a true story of a typical turnaround from a difficult situation to one where everyone wins.

When I work with dental practices, I always try to see things objectively from the patient’s point of view. If I can understand the patient, I have the vital key. The fact that I am not a doctor and I couldn’t tell a receptionist a particular dental item code can often be an advantage in taking a fresh view.

During a recent practice visit, I met a patient in the waiting area. Jennifer was a blue-collar worker who, in her own words, was “not a happy chappy!” I asked her why and her story unfolded.

Jennifer needed what was adding up to a substantial amount of dental work. This was making her very anxious as she had just purchased a long-awaited new car and had been planning a Pacific cruise with her husband and children as their annual holiday. Jennifer said, “The dam tooth ache could not have come at a worse time. It looks like our cruise is out the window for another 12 months!”

Without hesitation, I suggested she enquire with her dentist and the receptionist if they have payment plans.

By the time Jennifer emerged half an hour later, she had realised I had inside information. “You cheeky bugger, why didn’t you tell me they had a payment plan?” she said. I just smiled.

Jennifer told me and the receptionist that she had just bought her car in a similar fashion with interest-free finance. Making comparisons and connections is a key part of the human decision-making process and Jennifer was clearly aligning these two events in her mind and reassuring herself that, if she had bought a car like this, it would also be a safe and sensible way to pay for her dental treatment.

What Jennifer thought was unaffordable and the end of her holiday plans had suddenly became affordable and, excuse the pun, hadn’t left such a bad taste in her mouth! And it wasn’t only Jennifer who was now smiling – the receptionist was also looking a lot happier. Some large doses of ‘dopamine’ had just been administered by the practice! (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control our brain's reward and pleasure centres.)

Before Jennifer left she asked me, “Anyway what do you do here?” I replied that I was part of a team that has helped make the solution possible for her. In her warm, colloquial manner, she again referred to me as a ‘cheeky bugger’ and said we had made her day and that her family would be going on that holiday after all.

Thanks to the DMA payment platform and focus on the patient’s perspective, I had just been involved in turning a potential loss for all into a win-win.

This story reinforces that if we focus on the needs of others and truly listen to what is being said, we can usually find solutions to achieve positive change. In the dental practice environment, exploring the patient’s perspective and offering DMA membership is a ‘patient centric’ approach that will retain a happy patient for the longer term. Of course this is also great for the dentist from both a financial and job satisfaction perspective. Plus the receptionists’ lives are easier because they are dealing with a positive patient instead of a miserable one.

And the power of the positive story spreads even further. While I am sharing this story with you, imagine how many people Jennifer has told about her experience? Nothing is neutral, every interaction counts! A few simple questions to Jennifer in the waiting room opened a doorway of possibilities for her and set off a positive chain reaction.

It really is a matter of changing practices’ thinking – a membership plan or payment plan is not ‘hard to sell’ but a way to solve a patient’s financial dilemma and offer a better solution for their life. I know Jennifer will be back to the practice on the membership plan she took out for herself and her family.

Jennifer, thank you for letting me share this story with the dental community. By sharing your story, we can encourage many more win-win scenarios in DMA partnering practices. I like to think of it as Dental Members Australia taking away the pain in the patient’s back pocket, while the dentist takes away the pain in the mouth!In my work as a professional coach, I am always looking for win-win outcomes – for everyone involved.

So I’m going to share a true story of a typical turnaround from a difficult situation to one where everyone wins.

When I work with dental practices, I always try to see things objectively from the patient’s point of view. If I can understand the patient, I have the vital key. The fact that I am not a doctor and I couldn’t tell a receptionist a particular dental item code can often be an advantage in taking a fresh view.

During a recent practice visit, I met a patient in the waiting area. Jennifer was a blue-collar worker who, in her own words, was “not a happy chappy!” I asked her why and her story unfolded.

Jennifer needed what was adding up to a substantial amount of dental work. This was making her very anxious as she had just purchased a long-awaited new car and had been planning a Pacific cruise with her husband and children as their annual holiday. Jennifer said, “The dam tooth ache could not have come at a worse time. It looks like our cruise is out the window for another 12 months!”

Without hesitation, I suggested she enquire with her dentist and the receptionist if they have payment plans.

By the time Jennifer emerged half an hour later, she had realised I had inside information. “You cheeky bugger, why didn’t you tell me they had a payment plan?” she said. I just smiled.

Jennifer told me and the receptionist that she had just bought her car in a similar fashion with interest-free finance. Making comparisons and connections is a key part of the human decision-making process and Jennifer was clearly aligning these two events in her mind and reassuring herself that, if she had bought a car like this, it would also be a safe and sensible way to pay for her dental treatment.

What Jennifer thought was unaffordable and the end of her holiday plans had suddenly became affordable and, excuse the pun, hadn’t left such a bad taste in her mouth! And it wasn’t only Jennifer who was now smiling – the receptionist was also looking a lot happier. Some large doses of ‘dopamine’ had just been administered by the practice! (Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control our brain's reward and pleasure centres.)

Before Jennifer left she asked me, “Anyway what do you do here?” I replied that I was part of a team that has helped make the solution possible for her. In her warm, colloquial manner, she again referred to me as a ‘cheeky bugger’ and said we had made her day and that her family would be going on that holiday after all.

Thanks to the DMA payment platform and focus on the patient’s perspective, I had just been involved in turning a potential loss for all into a win-win.

This story reinforces that if we focus on the needs of others and truly listen to what is being said, we can usually find solutions to achieve positive change. In the dental practice environment, exploring the patient’s perspective and offering DMA membership is a ‘patient centric’ approach that will retain a happy patient for the longer term. Of course this is also great for the dentist from both a financial and job satisfaction perspective. Plus the receptionists’ lives are easier because they are dealing with a positive patient instead of a miserable one.

And the power of the positive story spreads even further. While I am sharing this story with you, imagine how many people Jennifer has told about her experience? Nothing is neutral, every interaction counts! A few simple questions to Jennifer in the waiting room opened a doorway of possibilities for her and set off a positive chain reaction.

It really is a matter of changing practices’ thinking – a membership plan or payment plan is not ‘hard to sell’ but a way to solve a patient’s financial dilemma and offer a better solution for their life. I know Jennifer will be back to the practice on the membership plan she took out for herself and her family.

Jennifer, thank you for letting me share this story with the dental community. By sharing your story, we can encourage many more win-win scenarios in DMA partnering practices. I like to think of it as Dental Members Australia taking away the pain in the patient’s back pocket, while the dentist takes away the pain in the mouth!