Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘dental office branding’

Gotta Know How to Smile

Posted on: May 14th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Smile

Smile

There is a woman that works as a barista at my local Starbucks that makes me cringe whenever she is on the cash register when I come in. Occasionally, as I sit contemplating my next blog post, I’ll watch her and the other baristas as they hustle and work hard to serve up the various coffee beverages and keep the morning line moving. This particular woman probably hustles more than most of her coworkers. She is never idle. If there is a lull in traffic she is immediately looking to see what needs to be done next and jumps to it. There is no question that she takes her job seriously and puts tremendous effort into trying to do it well. However, she doesn’t seem to know how to interact with customers.

Being a barista requires one to interact with the customers. A significant part of the coffeehouse culture, and an area where Starbucks normally shines, is that they have consistently warm, friendly baristas that learn customers’ names, take time in spite of crushing lines to banter with them, and always provide service with a smile. This particular woman doesn’t seem to be able to do this. Perhaps it is her personality. Perhaps the manager has not bothered to coach her on her demeanor. Whatever the case, she is diminishing the coffee house experience with her gruff manner and lack of rapport with customers.

We see this same problem when performing Patient Experience Evaluations for clients. Front line personnel that are gruff and terse with patients have an immediate dampening effect on patient experience ratings. Patients want to be treated with respect and dignity and not like they are an annoying interruption to the person’s day. A warm smile and greeting go a long way toward helping to reduce patient anxiety.

For some people learning to smile, laugh, and engage with patients does not come naturally, especially while under pressure. This behavior requires training and coaching and consistent reinforcement until it becomes second nature. We believe everyone has the ability to learn to be warm and engaging if properly coached. As an employer one doesn’t have to hire for “type” – nor should they. But, one does need to understand the roll doing the entire job right plays in creating a positive patient experience and not just the technical proficiency portion of the job description.

Blue – Another Great Color Choice for 2014

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
"Blue" jeans

“Blue” jeans

Blue.  More specifically, indigo, is a hot color right now.  Earlier we discussed that Radiant Orchid is Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year, but Indigo is definitely a hot choice right now among color enthusiasts.  The color watchers at The Wall Street journal are seeing a re-emergence of Indigo in everything from fashion to furnishings and print.

What makes Indigo such an appealing color? Think blue jeans.  Ever since Levi Strauss launched his line of jeans in the 19th century, Americans have been in love with their jeans.  Who doesn’t wear a pair when they are off work and relaxing?  Heck, we’re known to wear our favorite pairs until they have holes and are practically falling off of us.  If one is going to design a dental office and brand it as the ultimate in relaxed, comfortable, and friendly oral health care, what better way to capture this than by using indigo and denim as part of the décor?

The goal is to create a space that people feel comfortable coming to so they won’t cancel their appointments out of anxiety and that they’ll refer all of their family and friends to.  Indigo can be an excellent choice, working well against a backdrop of neutral colors from white to beige to taupe to bring a sense of calm and relaxation to the practice.  Will indigo appeal across genders?  We certainly think so. What man doesn’t own a pair of jeans and have blue in his closet?

Ready to Inject Some Bold Color into Your Design?

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by James Kuester 1 Comment

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year

Pantone’s 2014 Color of the Year is 18-3224 Radiant Orchid, which they describe as, “…a captivating, magical, enigmatic purple.”1

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”1

We agree.  The modern dental office experience screams for originality, creativity, and individualization of the patient experience, and the design of the office is a key foundation for building a brand that brings this all together for the thriving practice.  Without a unique brand and patient experience how else is a dental office going to set itself apart and thrive in an increasingly crowded marketplace where a new practice opens seemingly across the street every day?  Infusing the office design with accents of colors that speak to the here, the now, and the creative is one way to keep the patient experience fresh, unique, and different.  Layered over a neutral palette of grays, beiges, or taupes, this color used as an accent can really re-energize a space without overpowering it.

We challenge our clients to think beyond the box and embrace a bold and different branding message and consider incorporating this year’s Color of the Year into their accent pieces.

1 Pantone Reveals Color of the Year for 2014:
PANTONE 18-3224 Radiant Orchid

One Reason 30 Years May Be Too Long

Posted on: February 10th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Does this chair make a good impression?

Does this chair make a good impression?

While at a party over the weekend one of the other guests after finding out that I design dental offices said, “I’ve been going to the same dentist for thirty years now, and he’s not updated anything in his office this entire time except putting up new wallpaper, once about 15 years ago.”  Really? After hearing this I wondered what his book of business was like.  My guess is that the patient base is dwindling and there are very few new patients coming to the practice.

I fully realize that once one finds a dentist they like, they’ll most likely stick with them through thick-and-thin. New people to an area when deciding to choose a dentist will keep looking when they see a tired, thread-bare office that hasn’t been updated in thirty years.  Patients want to feel confident that they are going to receive good oral health care when they choose a dentist.  They want one they can trust not to cause pain or to oversell services.  The state of the dental office is one of the key criteria people use to judge the quality of a practice.  If the office hasn’t been updated in decades odds are the equipment, techniques, and skills of the dental team haven’t been updated, either.  Dentistry is an every advancing profession, with new technologies and breakthroughs, and patients are fully aware of this.  In today’s fast-paced, high-tech world, patients expect change and improvements and a stagnant office design does not communicate this.

So, why does one care if the book of business is diminishing?  Dentistry is a business like any other and at some point the dentist is going to want to retire.  What’s the exit strategy?  If he’s just going to turn out the lights and walk away then he doesn’t need to worry about the size of the patient base.  He can just keep serving the patients he has until they all age out or move away.  However, if he’s looking to sell the practice a thriving patient base is one of the key assets the business has.  Without one finding a willing buyer may be a challenge.

Attention to Details

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
The wrong color stands out

The wrong color stands out

We’re working on a dental office design project right now and are struggling to find just the right color match between the floor tiles, countertop, and backsplash tile.  Since the client really loves the floor tile, it is the backsplash tile that is being problematic.  I’m sure, as a dentist you can relate.  When working to build a new crown for a patient getting the enamel color just right so it matches the teeth around it is critical.  If it is a shade or two off the tooth will stand out like a sore thumb and everyone will notice.  The same is true in design.  If something isn’t just right, the overall effect will be marred, and consequently, the impact from the design will be diminished.

There are multiple goals when creating a new design for a dental office:

  • What is the branding message the practice is trying to send?
  • What is the patient experience that the practice wants to be remembered for?
  • How can the practice become more productive and efficient through better space planning and design?
  • How can repetitive use injuries be reduced or avoided through better ergonomic design?
  • How can the practice use energy and water more effectively and efficiency through green design?
  • How can the practice make more productive use of its space through the application of technology?

These are just of a few of the questions that we ask our clients and ourselves on each project we work on. Hitting a homerun on all or most of these requires careful attention to details – just like getting the color right on a patient’s tooth.

Hang it Up

Posted on: December 9th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Hang it up

Hang it up

After my bought with poor customer service while traveling last week coupled with the onset of cold, snowy weather, I’ve really been thinking a lot about the reception dental office provide to their patients when they first arrive at the office.  I really believe the first few moments when a patient arrives at the dental office are critical to setting the tone for the whole visit.  If something happens to upset them, they’ll not go into the rest of the visit in a good mood.  For example, if they are not greeted warmly and with a smile by the reception staff.  Or, if there is no place to hang their coat or place their boots.  The first is a training issue, the second is a design issue.

Unless your dental office is located where it is sunny and warm all the time, your patients probably come to the office with coats at least half the year.  From now until April those coats tend to be heavy and bulky and are shed as soon as they arrive inside.  Affording a place in the design to hang them up not only is courteous to the patients but also keeps them from cluttering up the Waiting Room with them draped over chairs.  We also are aware a lot of patients are wary of leaving their coat in a closet and out of sight during their exam, so having hooks or hangers in each operatory is also a good idea.  Again, this keeps the coats up and out of the way and keeps your dental office looking neat and tidy.  A patient walking in for her appointment is most likely going to have a poor emotional response if she first walks into the office and finds the entire Waiting Room full of discarded coats all over the chairs.

 

Customer Service – Why is it so Hard?

Posted on: December 4th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
The Quintessential Doorman

The Quintessential Doorman

Because I travel a lot I get to observe a lot of examples of good and bad customer service.  I will admit that I am not immune to the expectations that certain brands represent in terms of quality of amenities and customer service.  This is what a good branding program is supposed to do.  Consequently, I am particularly sensitive when a property does a bad job of representing their brand.

For example, yesterday I was checking into a Hilton Hotel and pulled my car upfront.  I had a large amount of bags and was hoping to get assistance in transporting them to my room.  No one came out to meet me, so I parked, turned the flashers on and went in search of a bell boy.  Standing at the front door was a doorman in a long overcoat, top hat, and scarf.  I told him what I wanted and he directed me on how to self-park the car and access the lobby via the skywalk.  I again said, “I have a lot of bags.”  He just repeated the directions on how to self-park the car.  In disgust I hopped back into the car and went to park.

This is not the kind of service I’ve come to expect from Hilton – not a lower end brand, mind you, but the full-blown, downtown property type of Hilton.

As a small business owner, dental offices don’t have the same kind of marketing budget that large companies do to develop, promote, and train staff on the branding message so it is especially critical that they be diligent daily in protecting and promoting the branding message.  This means consistent training and reinforcement on how staff behaves and interacts with patients, how the office looks, and how problems are resolved.  Just like with hotels, there are lots of other dentists that people can choose from and one never wants to give a patient an excuse to go searching.

Get Branded

Posted on: November 18th, 2013 by James Kuester 2 Comments
One of our logo designs

One of our logo designs

Watched an interesting movie last night called, “Branded.” The premise of the film was that through skilled marketing people can be made to want a brand independent of any true desire for the good or service that the brand represents.  While I think this is a rather extreme and cynical view of marketing, I do believe that a well-crafted brand will create a positive emotional response in people aware of the brand and thus, they will be more likely to buy the good or service where they experience that positive response over those that they don’t.  They will also be less price sensitive toward the brand that gives them the positive emotional response.

Case in point.  I’d never purchased jeans that cost over $100.  I just never saw the point of paying that much.  One day I was shopping and came across a pair of designer jeans that I liked that were deeply discounted to well below their regular price.  Because I liked the look and fit and the price was right, I bought them.  I get more complements on how my jeans fit in that pair of jeans than any other pair I’ve ever worn.  Receiving so many complements obviously has made me feel good about the jeans and by association all jeans by that label.  I am now more willing to pay a higher price than I’d have ever been willing to pay previously for a pair of jeans – at least that particular brand of jeans.

Creating a positive emotional response in patients is key to creating a strong brand for a dental office.  If a patient has a positive emotional response when they think of their dentist they are less likely to cancel an appointment and more likely to refer their family and friends.  Both activities have a direct, positive impact on the practice’s bottom-line.

Contrary to popular belief a logo isn’t a brand.  A logo is merely a symbolic representation of a brand.  A logo by itself cannot build the positive emotional response that will drive people to purchase a good or service.  Only once the emotional association is established will a logo stimulate a positive emotional response in a patient.

The interior space of a dental office is a critical component in creating a strong, positive emotional response in patients.  The dental office designer needs to work hand-in-hand with the marketing consultant to build strong linkages and associations between the interior design of the space and the other marketing pieces so they all work in tandem to reinforce the positive emotional response that patients receive while visiting their dental office.  In other words, the brand.

Don’t Forget the Lights

Posted on: November 15th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
LEDs creating a dramatic effect in this shower floor

LEDs creating a dramatic effect in this shower floor

The first element of Interior Branding consists of three components that work in sync to create the immediate visual impact of the brand: color, light, and texture.  Of these, the one that often gets neglected in typical dental office designs is light.  So often, we see office where a contractor has merely purchased Big Box brand fluorescent fixtures and incandescent cans and thrown them about the ceiling grid assuming this covers the lighting sufficiently.  This approach may save a few dollars but it does nothing for creating good dentistry, sculpting a branding message, or reducing energy costs.

To create good dentistry the lamps (bulbs) used in the operatories and other areas where color matching is critical need to be at least 3500 Kelvin or higher.  One wants to see things in true color and the proper color spectrum of the light emitted is key to this.  I can just imagine a dentist would not get many referrals if after fitting a patient with a crown the patient goes home, looks in the mirror and finds that the crown doesn’t match her natural teeth at all.

To reduce energy costs and create a healthier planet one needs to be using LED throughout the dental office design.  LED technology has advanced rapidly and the full spectrum of lighting is now available in this energy saving form.  Using only about 15% of a conventional incandescent bulb, LED definitely will bring down the electric bill each month.

For sculpting the branding message lighting is like the icing on the cake.  The colors and textures set the background palate but without proper lighting these elements won’t come alive as they should.  The lighting creates the drama that the colors and texture have within them.

What Color Should You Be Using in Your Dental Office for 2014?

Posted on: November 13th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Daltile Winter Blues Glass Mosaic - aligned with current trends.

Daltile Winter Blues Glass Mosaic – aligned with current trends.

Do you want to keep the design of your dental office hip and trendy and not sure what color you should be using? Well, all sources say the trending color for 2013 into 2014 is blue.  Forget cool, blue is HOT! Both Pantone, the leading source on all things color and CMG both are seeing blue leading the charge in 2014.  CMG’s “Color Lust” sees blue in everything: reds with a hint of blue; greens with a hint of blue; and what they are calling Re-Blue (is that blue with a hint of blue?).

Check out all of the amazing blue-on-blue images at Pantone that depict this blue trend.  Coincidentally, the color swatch here is a glass mosaic from Daltile that we’ve used recently in a restroom design.  Guess we’ve got our fingers on the pulse of current trends.