Give your patients a taste of Starbucks

Starbucks coffee chain aims to capture a unique warmth that sets it apart from the first two places in most peoples lives – work and home.

Emulate their marketing plan and you could make your practice the third place, too. Did you know Starbucks customers return 18 times a month? What do its managers know that the dental profession could learn about patient retention? The partners (staff) help to create a unique and personal experience for its customers.

So how do they get buy-in from their staff?

• They share profits with their people

• Starbucks constantly spends more on training than advertising

• 120% less staff turnover than industry average

• Employees respect and create and experience for one another – ‘store experience is basically a family’ said former partner

So the first step is to get your staff bought in. Because it is they who will have to manage the ‘total patient experience while you are busy doing it, doing it, doing it’.

Creating the Starbucks experience for customers

People flock there for the total experience even though their prices are eight times the norm. They all talk about meaningful connections. So every touch point has to be a connection. From the moment they touch your practice door to walk in; they have to connect. From the moment they step on your practice floor; they have to connect. From the moment they see your staffs face; they have to connect. From the moment they smell your practice; they have to connect. From the moment they wash their hands in your toilet; they have to connect. Get the picture?

Connections are won or lost with all senses

• Skinetics (touch, handshake)

• Visual

• Kinesthetic (heart, feelings)

• Auditory (what patients here when they walk in)

So let me give you two areas most practices fail dismally at:

• Audio: Do you have mood enhancing music within your practice or is it like a waiting room? No patient should ever be waiting. They should be hesitant to get up from their (comfortable) seat when they are called because they are having a good time reading and listening.

• Toilets: Smells? Do you have different fresheners for the season you are in? Did you know you can buy smell machines for your practice? Do you have great smelling and visually inspiring soaps? Are your toilets checked every hour for cleanliness?

In my Abundant Referrals System, there is a video on how to create Extreme Critical Non Essentials. Give patients positive uplifting experiences…

Is your practice inviting just like Starbucks is? You must capture a unique warmth that sets it apart from the first 2 places in most peoples lives; work and home. Make it the third place. Do this and you will be a winner!

Howard Shultz, co-founder of Starbucks says: ‘The success of Starbucks demonstrates… that we have built an emotional connection with our customers… We have a competitive advantage over classic brands in that every day we touch and interact with our customers directly. Our product is not sitting on a supermarket shelf like a can of soda. Our people have done a wonderful job of knowing your drink, your name (and your kids names)’

Each Starbucks coffee shop has a bulletin board packed with pictures of staff and customers and local news – a sense of community and belonging. How much time would it take you to put up a cork board and start connecting with your patients. They need to know WHO you are not WHAT you are.

In summary, for Starbucks it happens by creating systems to hold leadership and staff accountable for that commitment, sharing the reward of hard work. By projecting a vision of the optimal customer experience and helping partners realise that vision.

Have you mapped out your patient experience by walking through your practice? Try walking in your patients’ shoes once a month. Not only in the practice but also get people to phone the practice. Is your phone on fax machine because your staff are doing something else and do not want to be disturbed by new patients looking for a practice?

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