Optimising the client journey – Dr Gulshan Murgai Principal of Skin & Smiles in WatfordFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 2nd April 2019
Dr Gulshan Murgai, Principal of Skin & Smiles in Watford, isn’t afraid to spark conversation and debate with his views on running a dental business.
Every member of the extended dental team has an impact on the experience of anyone we provide dental treatment to, especially dental implants. This includes marketing colleagues, reception staff, practice managers, dental assistants and dental technicians, and you could go as far to add website design companies and product suppliers to the list. We all have a role to play in ensuring client satisfaction and successful treatment outcomes and only by working together can we achieve the best results.
A controversial viewpoint
Perhaps rather controversially, I refer to ‘clients’ rather than ‘patients’. I also offer ‘examinations’, not ‘check-ups’. A large amount of dentistry provided is because people haven’t practised good oral hygiene – if everyone looked after their mouths effectively, dentists wouldn’t have much to do! We see very few traumas or genetic problems, meaning that most dental issues are self-inflicted. The people we treat are therefore not ‘sick’ patients, but clients requiring a service to improve their current situation.
My team and I take the view that we are providing a professional service to fee-paying clients – it is a business transaction. I would expect some readers to disagree, but we have taken this approach for some time and it has served both us and our clients very well. By committing to dental treatment and entering a type of contract, our clients are encouraged to accept their share of responsibility for both their presenting problems and treatment outcomes. We appreciate that they have chosen to come to us, and we show this by ensuring high standards and a positive experience. Ultimately, we’ve found that our clients are more invested in their dental condition and we aim to avoid a negative blame culture.
Passing the baton
To ensure an efficient client experience, the professional team must work together seamlessly. Marketing personnel should convey the same messages as colleagues in the practice and funnel enquiries through the right channels – perhaps to the website or to the practice phone number for anyone seeking more information.
In order for the baton to be passed on effectively, the people answering the phone must be trained and competent to do so. It is for this reason that in my practice, only those people with sufficient clinical knowledge may answer a call.
When the client visits, the baton is passed onto the clinical team – I make a diagnosis and present a treatment plan, while the dental assistants take care of the record keeping. From here, the client returns to the front of house team or the practice manager to discuss the treatment plan again and fees. The support team are in charge of providing take-home information or booking appointments for accepted treatment plans. We require a deposit for the latter, as we find it encourages a bidirectional relationship with both parties committing to the contract. The baton is later passed onto the dental technician when prostheses are required, although they may be involved much earlier in the process and work alongside the clinical team during the planning stages for an even better result.
Communication is key
Inter-team communication is essential for this to work effectively. My entire team and I have meetings every morning and at the end of the week so we can discuss the day ahead or what has changed since we last spoke. This keeps everyone on the same page and enables us to operate as one.
My situation is a little different to most as I own both a laboratory and a practice. My extended team is all under one roof. However, the same concept applies to dentists working with offsite technicians, as modern technology facilitates communication with colleagues anywhere in the world.
Communication with the client is just as important. Having purchased a service, they need to be kept in the loop so they always understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and what it’s costing them in terms of time and finances. It’s necessary to give them the chance to ask questions at every stage to retain engagement. I like to think that the team give them information and empower them to make a decision about their dental condition. This is modern medicine and dentistry. We are not simply telling them what to do. A client says what they desire, I provide treatment options and they decide what they prefer. This also aids the consent process as clients appreciate that they don’t needa dental implant: they needa tooth replaced, but they desirea fixed implant solution.
In my experience, it’s important for practices to follow up with clients following treatment – especially after dental implant surgery. This provides an opportunity to answer questions and ensure they are happy. No matter how simple or complex the procedure, my team and I would always call the patient either the evening of the surgery or the following morning. It’s all about completing the service provided. I take inspiration from everywhere and regularly take my team to restaurants or hotels to observe how they deliver service and then discuss how we can implement similar concepts to encourage client satisfaction. There are many benefits of this, including better treatment and enhanced client experience, which consequently translates to client appreciation and recommendations for the business.
Exactly how dental practices go about utilising their extended team to ensure an ‘ideal’ client journey will vary, as we all have our own way of doing things. In my ADI Study Club talk this September, I hope to start an open discussion about how we can collectively take dentistry forwards in this area.
For information on upcoming ADI Study Clubs, or to book, please visit www.adi.org.uk/studyclubs
ADI Study Clubs are free to members. Join online today.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the ADI.
Dr Murgai qualified in 2001 from The University of Birmingham. He completed his vocational training in Chertsey, Surrey, became an associate dentist in West London and then purchased the Whippendell Dental Clinic in January 2004.
With a vision for quality and excellence he totally redeveloped the clinic, introducing a welcoming and open approach alongside cutting-edge techniques and state-of-the-art technology to entirely change the character, scope and feel of the practice.
Whilst maintaining his interest and skills in general dentistry, Gulshan developed an international practice in dental implants and cosmetic dental surgery, as well as facial rejuvenation procedures.
He has trained and been trained by leading practitioners throughout Europe, ensuring that the practice provides the very latest in dental and facial treatment techniques and technology.
Whilst regularly attending courses for continual professional development, Gulshan has also trained other dentists in the use of CEREC 3D, dental implant surgery and smile makeovers.
The practice was incorporated, expanded and launched as Skin & Smiles in December 2012.
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