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Unlocking the Myths of Quality Service
Quality is in the perception of the recipient, not the service provider
By Nick Azar
As dental laboratory professionals, we are all in the transformation business. Regardless of the nature of our service, our mission is to help our clients help their patients transform their smiles from where they are to where they want to be. In these situations, patients look to their dentists (and dentists look to their laboratory) for help. As dental technicians, we draw upon our professional training and experience to help clients and their patients achieve the results they want.
Once dentists have chosen the laboratory technician they think can best help them, they expect to achieve their patients’ desired outcomes. For the most part, technicians are able to deliver as expected. Unfortunately, simply meeting patients’ expectations is not always enough to ensure repeat and referral business from satisfied clients. In order to position yourself for repeat and referral business, it’s important to exceed client expectations. For dental technicians, the quality of our service is the most logical place to identify opportunities to do just that.
What is Quality Service?
Many industry experts have written and spoken about quality service, trying to quantify and qualify its definition. Despite the best intentions of these writers and speakers, their efforts have achieved little more than to complicate a very simple issue. What is quality? Quality is what your clients say it is, nothing more, nothing less.
In truth there are but two fundamental elements of quality service:
1. Meeting your clients’ needs and wants.
2. Meeting, or preferably exceeding, clients’ expectations.
The quality of your service is so important to your ultimate success that it should be reflected in everything you do, especially your personal brand and marketing communications, both offline and online.
Quality service is much like safe driving. Everyone knows how important it is, and most of us believe that we drive safely. However, even the shortest of excursions, whether on the highway or on city streets, provides enough evidence to conclude that too many people practice unsafe driving practices. Similarly, all dental laboratory professionals know, or should know, the importance of quality service, and most claim to serve their clients well. In reality, however, continuing client complaints suggest that many dental laboratory professionals do little more than talk the quality talk.
Quality Service Is Timely
Technological advances have moved us to the age of instant gratification. Email and texting allow us to communicate instantly with others and has bred the expectation of instant gratification to our communication needs. This same expectation has spilled over into the area of service delivery. Through computer technology and the Internet, clients and patients have instant access to a staggering array of information and services, creating a new “normal” when it comes to service expectations. As professional service providers, this creates intense pressure on dental technicians providing these services.
Telephone calls and email messages must be returned promptly and appointments must be scheduled and kept sooner rather than later. Like quality service, timeliness is defined by individual clients. Make sure that you and your clients have a common understanding of what constitutes timely service, and improving the timeliness of your service is an ideal way to add quality.
Quality Service Adds Value
One of the best ways to build quality in the services you provide is to add something of value, which could take the form of offering additional information. Provided its accuracy and utility, the nature of the information that you add to your service is limited only by your resources and imagination.
By providing clients with reliable and helpful information, you begin to service them as a trusted laboratory services provider. These new standards must continue to be met or, better still, exceeded. Clients will notice when you fail to meet your standards of quality. Since those very standards are what attracted clients in the first place, if they are not met, the clients will look for someone else to help them. Each client’s needs, wants, and expectations are your standard of quality. In meeting these standards, you will also satisfy your clients. Satisfied clients are one of the most valuable assets of any business, as it is the satisfied client who recommends you to others, refers others to you, uses your services repeatedly, and keeps your client pipeline flowing smoothly.
Walking the Quality Walk
You can’t simply talk the quality talk, you must walk the quality walk. So many laboratories claim to provide quality that very few dentists actually believe “we deliver quality” statements. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just talk about the quality of the service you provide, make it part of everything that you do.
For dental laboratory service professionals, quality service is best expressed through the extra steps taken to reassure clients that they are looking out for them and their patients. This includes helping dentists determine the appropriate materials to use when delivering finished work, same day delivery services, and professional technical and sales advisors. Offering great client service helps attract new clients and generate more business.
A Memorable Client Experience
One of the best ways to exceed expectations is by reframing your routinely good services as memorable experiences for your clients. When you are good at what you do, the perception is that what you do is easy, and the better you become, the more routine your work appears in the eyes of your clients. While honing your skills and workflow efficiencies may improve the services you provide, it also raises the very real risk of clients undervaluing your work. To minimize—if not totally eliminate—this risk, shift your clients’ attention away from the efficiencies to the value that they and their patients receive from the services you provide. The value that dental laboratory service professionals deliver to clients is helping their patients make the transformation from where they are to where they want to be. By shifting attention to the value that dentists and patients receive, you will maintain a strong client focus for your service. Invariably, a strong client focus leads to improved quality service and increased client satisfaction, each of which helps generate more repeat and referral business.
To increase clients’ awareness of the value they are receiving, recognize the transformation they are making in each of their patients. You can recognize this progress conversationally in your day-to-day interactions, but especially significant achievements should be commemorated with certificates or meaningful awards. The more memorable clients’ experience of dealing with you, the more likely it will be that clients respond with more repeat business and referrals.
Nick Azar is a consultant, business strategist, executive coach, and founder of Azar & Associates in Santa Clarita, CA.
7 Quality Service Truths
These quality service truths define the standards of service that your clients expect and deserve
1. Clients don’t want the service itself, they want the outcome
2. Clients need your services
3. Providing technical information is not quality service
4. Industry jargon reduces quality service
5. Having a professional license does not equal quality service
6. Client service is variable
7. Quality service is what your client says it is