The rise of consumer expectation
The rise of consumer expectation
That’s why good customer service is so valuable — it’s hard.
January 24, 2019

By Ross Martin, Management Consultant at Hive Business

My friend, a landscape gardener, tells me with some passion that he prefers screws to nails in his fencing. He’s doing a job for me, and all I am thinking is that I need the thing up by next Tuesday. This effect is multiplied in dentistry, an industry with a complex product that the average customer won’t be able to judge directly. So they judge other aspects, which a technician isn’t trained in.

We sent an email to a client with an attached file that was labelled with our internal alpha-numeric reference system. Even though it was the correct attachment, the email was a mistake because the client was confused. The file name was gibberish to them.

It was a reminder that our customers do not inhabit the same world as us. Accountants live in a binary right-wrong world, and even though it might be tempting sometimes, we should never say, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” It’s the same for dentists.

As individual customers we’re all quite astute and sophisticated about customer journeys thanks to more than a decade of online shopping. If something seems inappropriate or — much worse — time wasting, we get very annoyed. As workers, however, we forget this perspective: we turn up at work at 0900 and forget to respond to an email, the day’s demands inevitably overtaking our customer service priorities.

That’s why good customer service is so valuable — it’s hard. NHS dentistry is in its death spiral because it no longer produces the kind of margins you need to invest in improving the customer experience. Quite often a clinician’s perspective of customer service is hilarious. You can bet that a principal who doesn’t want to pay £100 a month for call tracking will not preside over steadily growing new patient numbers.

Instead they are guaranteed to miss invaluable information about what patients experience and they will therefore fail to fix problem areas, resulting in higher patient attrition and a gentle decline in new patient numbers. Nothing sudden, but nonetheless dangerous and over a few years potentially terminal.

The NHS principal however, Canute-like, resists and says it isn’t happening and eventually, as the tide of consumer expectation keeps steadily rising, he discovers the business doesn’t float. It drowns as a result of standing still.

There are some businesses that seem strangely watertight, the energy companies and internet providers among them, particularly BT, which has appalling customer service, but they are insulated from real market forces. It’s not so easy for dental practice owners. If you do not change the world will overtake you, so if you are in the 75% of the dental market that is NHS or mixed and want to Noah up your business or go fully private, get us in for a Diagnostic Day.

The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Hive Business and does not constitute formal tax advice. Any tax outcomes will be based on individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future. You should seek specific advice before embarking on any course of action. Hive Business does not provide regulated Financial Advice, including advice on investment, insurance or lending products or their suitability for you. This article is provided for information only and does not constitute, and should not be interpreted as, investment advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or otherwise transact, or not transact, in any investment including Bitcoin and other crypto. Any use you wish to make of any information contained within this article is, therefore, entirely at your own risk.

By Ross Martin Group Chairman
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