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How Can My Dental Practice Benefit from Mystery Shopping?

People who work in the field of dentistry know that the dentist office isn’t necessarily people’s favorite place to visit. We know what “bad” looks like: long waits, rude staff, a messy waiting room, pain. But we also know what “good” looks like: friendly smiles from staff, a calming atmosphere, and personable physicians. From something as routine as a semi-annual cleaning to something as complex as a root canal, the level of comfort a patient feels throughout his visit is imperative to his perception of that practice. Dentists know that patients have options and want to go somewhere that not only makes them feel better physically, but emotionally. Happy patients are the cheapest advertising a dental office can get — they create word-of-mouth buzz, which in turn creates new clients. But how do the dentists, hygienists, and office staff measure that patient satisfaction?

BERLIN - OCTOBER 12:  A dentist and her assist...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

One way to get a truly unbiased patient point of view is to hire secret shoppers to evaluate the level of customer service they receive during a visit. These trained mystery shoppers go into dentist offices for noninvasive procedures, second-opinions, dental cleanings, and consultations. They evaluate everything from the first phone call to set up an appointment to the actual visit itself. The mystery shoppers are not there to evaluate the dentist’s clinical skills, but rather the overall customer service and ambiance of the office. In this way, dentists can see how their practice is viewed through the patient’s eyes.

By analyzing the data that comes back from the secret shoppers, the staff can identify areas of weakness that might lead to the loss of a customer. They can then fine-tune a training program to address those issues. Mystery shoppers are not only trained to find what’s wrong; they’re also trained to find what’s right. In those cases, staff can be rewarded and those areas of strength can be highlighted. Dentists can even shop other dentists’ offices to gain a competitive edge.

You can find reputable mystery shopping companies by asking for referrals from others in your industry, or by checking with the Mystery Shopping Providers Associationa on their website, or at 847-375-4743.

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