Generation EZ… Teresa explains to us why we all fall under that generation umbrella. Are you making visits to your office easy? Teresa gives us great suggestions for ways we can accommodate our patients in this technology-driven world.
Teresa Duncan, MS is such a wealth of knowledge. Please visit her website and enjoy her awesome resources! For more info from Teresa, see below!
Teresa Duncan: Speaker on insurance and management, Podcaster, Author of a book and contributes to several magazines and the ADA’s publications!
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This TIPisode has been transcribed for your viewing pleasure:
Teresa Duncan: Hi. This is Teresa Duncan of Odyssey Management and the host of the Nobody Told Me That! podcast. I wanted to talk to you today about a type of consumer that we need to consider when we set up our websites and all of our scheduling systems. There are many types of consumers to think about. I know that we’re hearing all about Gen X and Boomers and Millennials and all of that, but there’s a consumer type that we need to consider that cuts across all of the generations. And I’m just going to call it — and it’s not official. I’m just going to call it Gen EZ because what these patients are looking for is how easy is it to be a patient.
So it doesn’t matter what age they are. Somebody like me who is very firmly a Gen Xer, I am now looking to make all of my appointments online. I don’t really want to talk to anybody if I don’t have to. And I know for sure that my son, who is 19, is also that way. So this is something that will cut across all of the generations. So let’s think about how this works in your office.
So, first of all, take a step back and look at how it is in your office. And I’m not talking about identifying a process, everybody gets defensive about it, everybody wants to change the world. That’s not it at all. I just want you to be aware of how easy it is to be a patient. Or, conversely, are we making it really hard to be a patient?
So first thing we look at is how easy is it to find us and communicate with us. Perhaps the patient has done the due diligence. They’ve gone to Facebook to check out your reviews. They’ve gone to the website to check out, you know, what are your hours, what insurance is accepted, whatever it is that is important to them. Now, anywhere on there, is there a button that says “Click here to schedule. Click here to contact us immediately”? Or are you relying on just putting your number on the screen and hoping that they will pick up the phone and call you? A lot of people nowadays will not pick up the phone and call you. They will want to send an email request for information.
I mean, think of your own consumer behavior. What do you do when you go to a website? You don’t want to pick up the phone a call, I don’t know, the tire place down the street. You want to maybe text them or email them to see if there’s any availabilities. There are — I know there are going to be some of you that say, “No. I always pick up the phone.” But we can’t project what our behavior is on other people. So I want you to think about what the whole customer experience is.
Yes, your phone number still needs to be front and center because, yes, there are people that are going to pick up the phone. But research has shown we are moving to a mobile community. Everybody’s on their phones. Everybody wants to communicate electronically. I just want you to take a step back and see if that works in your office.
Now, when they get into the office — so say they’ve gone through all of the hurdles. They made an appointment no problem. They’re in the schedule. They come in to meet you. Is it all a cohesive experience? So, when they come into the office, are they then bombarded with paperwork? Are they then made to wait? Are they then greeted by somebody who barely looks up at them? That whole customer experience needs to be paid attention to. So how easy is it for them to actually be a patient?
Now, I’m not your hygienist. Most of this podcast audience is hygienists, so I’m going to assume that you’ve got your hygiene game on in the back, so I’m not going to tell you anything about what to do there. But, from the front point of view, the admin point of view, they would need to make it very easy to schedule, very easy to be greeted, very easy to be felt — to make it feel like they are part of the office. So that whole greeting needs to be taken into account.
Now, one thing that I will say in the clinical side is that we need to make sure that patients find it very easy to ask questions because no matter what, once you’ve got them in front of you, that is when their mind is going to be swirling. They’re going to have tons of questions for your doctors whenever they present scaling and root planning or any of the periodontal procedures that you’re going to do. All of that is scary to them. They all think that it involves some sort of scalpel, getting numb. They all think it involves pain.
So is your clinical coordinator, is your doctor very easy to ask questions? Are you somebody who’s easy to ask questions of? And then your delivery back to them, are you making them feel at ease?
So then I want to talk to you about the other easy part, which is how easy is it to afford treatment? Now, of course, there’s always going to be people that don’t need the easy way. They just had the money. They whip out their credit card. Maybe it’s their black Amex. I don’t know which one. It’s always nice to see that. But, for the most part, we have to make it easy on our patients to afford treatment.
So your — either — I don’t know if you’re doing this in the back. Some hygienists are doing case presentation and financial presentations. But, for the most part, the admin typically is doing that. But do we make it so that patients have to pay in full? Well, that’s very hard for patients unless they have some help like a third party, maybe CareCredit, or maybe they have the ability to make deposits before they get the treatment done. Basically, is it really hard to get treatment in your office because it’s so cost prohibitive to the regular patient?
Now, if you have a boutique practice, of course you don’t need to worry about that. But, if you have — if you’re in Middle America in a suburb, you’re basically going to need to make sure that you can break it down so the patient can get the work done. Not everybody has an extra thousand laying around, five thousand, so we need to assume that the patient is always going to need some help with the payment schedule and with planning out their payments. And, again, that goes back to how easy is it to get scheduled for treatment and make payments and afford it.
And then let’s send the patient home. So the patient is at the house. For some reason we maybe got the estimates wrong with insurance, and we had to send them a bill. How easy is it for them to pay the bill? Do they have to take their statement and fill in the credit card number? You know, there’s still the old schools that send out the paper statements that have the “Send in your credit card here.” Or — and most of the time we don’t get a lot of checks, patient checks. I mean, a lot of admin people will tell you “We’ll still get some checks, but it’s mostly credit card payments, and it’s mostly getting their payments ahead of time.”
So, on your website, do you have a button that says “Text to pay” or “Online payment portal”? That’s really important because most of our consumers nowadays pay their bills online. So why wouldn’t they pay their dentist online? There’s some really great software out there that allows you to text to pay. I really love that. But, also, just have a payment portal. Whether it’s through your credit card vendor, whether it’s a CareCredit vendor portal, they’ll give you the HTML to put on your site. Or whether it’s even connecting a PayPal account.
I have a lot of doctors that tell me they didn’t think about it, but once they hooked up their PayPal account, connected it to the practice, people were paying them overnight. And, from an admin perspective, coming into emails of all this money being paid to the account, that’s actually pretty sweet. So I like that, so — because cash flow is king.
And then how easy is it for them to get in touch with you as an established patient? Do you have a regular email that goes out to them? Do you have a regular way for them to contact you for appointments? A lot of offices have text notifications or — and also “Text us here to schedule an appointment.” You also have lots of software that allow you to schedule your appointment online. And that also goes to the very beginning of the patient experience. Once they get on your site, can they request an appointment online? Honestly, most of my medical appointments — my eye doctor, all other kinds of doctors — you know, when you get older, you have all sorts of other kinds of doctors — most of them have some way to either schedule online or request an appointment online.
So I want you to think of your website and your Facebook and Instagram, all of the ways that you contact your patient. How easy is it for them to contact you back? But, really, the overall picture is how easy is it for this patient to become your patient? So still pay attention to all of the generations because for sure they have their designations, they have their different characteristics, but I want you to just be aware that at our heart most of us are Generation EZ.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this TIPisode. Again, my name is Teresa Duncan of Odyssey Management and the host of the Nobody Told Me That! podcast, which reviews all sorts of management and insurance issues. So, if you’re inclined to listen to that kind of content, find us on any of the podcast providers. Again, it’s Nobody Told Me That!, and let your admin team know that there’s a podcast out there for them as well. Until the next TIPisode, take care.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.