Why Patients Leave

Mrs. Johnson is a relatively new patient in your practice when a lingual cusp on a lower molar snaps off, necessitating a crown. She trusts your practice, so she goes ahead and schedules the crown even though her best friend Gloria tells her that another dentist in town has a crown fee that is two hundred dollars lower.

The appointment for the prep and temp goes well, but at the insert visit the crown has a slight open margin. The decision is made to do a new impression and reappoint. The patient comments how difficult this is with her schedule, but has no choice but to make the appointment.

The second try goes well and she leaves with a beautiful new crown, but Mrs. Johnson has some moderate (yet typical) post-op discomfort. She didn’t realize at the time that a little pain after any dental procedure is not unusual.

No one hears from Mrs. Johnson until four months later, when a confirmation call is made for her upcoming hygiene appointment, at which point she says:

“Oh – I won’t be coming back in anymore. My new office will be calling for my x-rays.”

So what went wrong?

Were your crown fees too high? Was she disappointed in the clinical abilites of the office because the first crown didn’t fit well? Was it that the second impression and insert was too much of an inconvenience? How about the post-op pain?

According to international consulting giant Bain & Company, “A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related.”

So while this patient probably wasn’t too happy about several things, if a few simple service-related procedures were done correctly, they probably would have stayed.

The doctor didn’t call the night of the crown prep to check on the patient. They didn’t properly explain that while it was possible to cement the first crown, to get it really perfect would mean a new impression (while apologizing for the inconvenience.)

And a patient-centric office would overplay the fact that there would be post-op pain. That way, discomfort is expected and no discomfort makes you a hero!

So before we let you go for today, let’s just repeat the lesson of the day:

“A customer is 4 times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price- or product-related.”

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