How do you turn a case presentation into a conversation about patient care instead of feeling like a salesman?
Give the patient what they want.
We have all heard the saying, “The customer is always right.” Nowadays we groan at this cliché because too many people interpret it as meaning the customer can do no wrong and will give away the store to anyone who swears they didn’t switch the clearance tags.
But that isn’t the real intent behind the saying.
“The customer is always right” applies more to the economics of supply and demand than customer service etiquette. If you are a shoe salesman and you don’t stock the most popular shoe on the market because you think an unpopular model is better, then you are making a poor business decision.
But you aren’t a shoe salesman; your patients are trusting you with their health. So what should a dentist take from the advice, “The customer is always right”?
If you want more patients, pay attention to their concerns, wants, and needs. It’s easy to assume that you know best—you are the dentist, after all—but your patients will give their trust and loyalty to those who understand their needs according to them. If you want your case presentation to be effective, the patient must feel the need for the treatment you are recommending.
Let me give you one example, compliments of yours truly.
My Experience as a Patient
I recently moved, so I was in a position that all of us find ourselves in at one time or another—I needed to choose a new dentist.
What credentials does a good dentist need? After decades of working in the field, I know how to find a good dentist, and I can tell you my decision-making process is not any different from most of your patients. I find someone who establishes a rapport with me.
Good schooling, experience, and great reviews are a good place to start. These criteria can narrow it down to a few good options, but after that point, most of us simply trust our guts.
I found a dentist who looked great on paper. The practice was established, he had a good reputation, and during my first visit he seemed to do everything right—at first. But then it went sideways quickly.
I happen to have an unerupted bicuspid, with a small space where it should be. Upon discovering this, the new doctor jumped right into recommending surgery, braces, and a course of treatment that probably topped $60,000.
I’ve always had this “flaw” for as long as I can remember, but it has never bothered me. The doctor never asked if I had any concerns about it, nor did he discuss with me the advantages to such extensive treatment. I could tell that as soon as he discovered my unerupted bicuspid he saw dollar signs and went right into a sales pitch.
Just like most patients, I didn’t enjoy my dentist suddenly morphing into a Kirby salesman. Rather than talking to me, his patient, about my concerns and attempting to help me according to my wants and needs, he was more concerned about what he wanted—an expensive full-mouth rehab for someone who didn’t want one.
I didn’t come in thinking I needed surgery and braces, and nothing this particular dentist said made me change my mind.
They Need to Feel the Need
The next time I visited a dentist, I tried someone else. This doctor was just as qualified as the previous one, but I’ll stick with him because my concerns became his concerns.
When my new dentist discovered my unerupted tooth, he didn’t immediately try to get me to commit to a serious treatment plan. Instead, he asked, “Does this unerupted tooth ever bother you? No? OK.”
When there does come a time that you need to recommend treatment to a patient who isn’t on board, you need to help them understand why. Until they feel the need, your case presentation will feel like a sales pitch to a patient who doesn’t think they need it.
Establishing trust and rapport with a patient means having empathy toward your patient. When a patient feels that their health and happiness is foremost in your mind, it will be easier for them to trust you when it matters most.
For your case presentations to have value, the patients must feel the need for your recommendations.
~Linda O’GradyTags: Case Presentation
This post was written by Linda