Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘emotional branding’

Gotta Know How to Smile

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


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.

You Have them at “Hello”

Posted on: May 9th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments


Remember the old adage that you only have one chance to make a first impression? Well, we may not have as long as we’ve thought to make that impression. A recent research project has found that we humans form impressions of people from the very first “hello.” Michelle Trudeau on NPR’s “Morning Edition” reported on the research this past week. The way men and women say hello immediately causes us to form instinctive judgments on how trustworthy the speaker is, along with a host of other important attributes that were very important in keeping humans alive over the years.

Think about your dental office and how the receptionist answers the phone or says “hello” to people when they first walk in. I’ve always been shocked at how many offices I walk into to be greeted gruffly or with an irritated tone – like I’m interrupting their day. During our Patient Experience Evaluations this is one of the things we notice right away. If that first word out of the greeter’s mouth isn’t warm, friendly, and welcoming it sets a bad tone for the entire visit. The entire dental team has an uphill battle at that point to salvage the experience and send the patient away happy. Luckily, research has also shown that the way the patient is sent out the door has a very strong impact on how the entire experience is remembered.

Why set the dental team up for this much effort when proper training can avert potential disaster? Evidently, the famous line from Jerry Maquire, “You had me at hello,” isn’t all that far off.

A Walk on the Red Carpet

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

Roll out the red carpet for your patients.

The red carpet.  Conjures up star studded events such as the Academy Awards and other award shows.  The people that walk there are special.  They get noticed. They get treated well.  Is it too much to ask to get a little “red carpet” treatment injected into our everyday lives?  The patients that come to your dental office deserve nothing less.

We’re not advocating that every dental office be designed with red carpeting.  That would be rather dull, wouldn’t it?  No, instead we’re advocating that the experience of walking into one’s dental office should make a patient feel they are the most important person in the world at that moment.  They should be immediately surrounded by colors, lights, and textures that make them feel calm, relaxed, and confident that they will receive excellent oral health care.  They should be greeted by a warm, smiling person that acknowledges that their presence is appreciated and important.  They should be offered a comfortable place to sit, a secure place to hang their coat, and a beverage to warm them or quench their thirst.  While the goal is to never have anyone waiting, one cannot anticipate the patient that arrives early or the unexpected procedure that delays an operatory from being available exactly as scheduled.

In accordance with HIPAA patients should not be addressed by their full names and there should not be a sign in sheet that identifies them or their appointment time where other patients may read this information.  Gone should be the ultra-unfriendly and overly clinical glass window that staff hides behind and cuts them off from patients.

We’ve never walked into a day spa that didn’t immediately make us feel good about being there.  The same thing cannot be said about many dental offices.  While dental offices are not day spas, there is no reason that dental offices can’t take a page from the day spa handbook on how to give patients a “walk on the red carpet.”

Colors and Your Dental Office

Posted on: August 28th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Color of the Year 17-5641

Color of the Year 17-5641

Have you given any thought to the colors you use in your dental office design? There has been tremendous research done on what certain colors mean and what reactions people have to them.  Our good friend Starla West wrote this blog post that really does a great job of outlining the various meanings in colors and how people respond to them.

We believe there are no “good” or “bad” colors to use in the design of your office or brand.  The branding of your dental office is a very personal thing and the development of it should be a team effort between you, your marketing consultant, and your dental office designer.  While some research suggests that red isn’t possibly the best choice for dental offices as it is the color of blood and thus, can raise people’s anxiety level, if it fits the character and personality of the dental practice, we say “go for it!”

Here is a great blog post by Lawrence that graphically represents some of the meanings in colors.  We love the way these graphs make comparing colors and their meanings easy.

When choosing the colors for your dental office pay attention to the emotional response you want to generate in your patients and staff.  While I is important to choose your office colors with the patients in mind, don’t forget you and your staff and your response to the colors.  After all, you and your team will be spending much more time in the office than the patients.

Is Your Dental Office Green?

Posted on: February 18th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments

Color of the Year 17-5641

Is your dental office green?  While I normally write about being environmentally conscious in your business practices and dental office design, today I literally mean, “Are you green? Emerald to be exact.”

Pantone, the arbiters of all things color related, has named Emerald the 2013 color of the year.  Specifically, they have named Pantone 17-5641 to this prestigious honor.  The color is lively and radiant while wrapping a room in a lushness and comfort rarely found in other colors.  A dental office reception area using Emerald will definitely project a sophistication, lushness, and harmony to patients that they will find welcoming and relaxing as they prepare for their health care visit.

So, as you plan your 2013 dental office design updates give some thought to emerald.  It may just be the jewel you’ve been looking for.

Watching the Snow Fall

Posted on: January 21st, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments

I am sitting here this morning at my neighborhood Starbucks with a cup of dark roast coffee, light jazz playing on the stereo, watching fluffy flakes of snow drift past the window.  As it is Martin Luther King Day and all schools and government offices are closed, the Starbucks is very quiet this morning.  Mellow even.  A great atmosphere for thought, reflection, and writing.  This is not always the case on Monday mornings.  Often at this time of day the place is really hopping as people hurry in to grab a coffee on their way to work.  What is the atmosphere in your dental office this morning?

Does your dental office atmosphere create an environment that is calming and soothing for your patients like my Starbucks is this morning?  If not, what can you easily change to inch the design a little closer to that experience?  Since investing in a snow machine might be a bit extreme, examining the music that is played on the stereo is a great way to start.  Now, we’re not big fans of Muzak, so we suggest finding some great instrumental jazz that can be played softly in the background to help create a calming atmosphere.

If you have a fireplace in your office, a snowy day like today is a great one to make sure it is on to help warm patients up as they come in out of the cold. Welcoming them with a cup of coffee or hot cocoa is another little way to help them relax and feel good about making the journey to visit their dentist when it’s cold and blustery outside.

Keeping the lights in the Reception Area turned down low until later in the morning also is a great way to help create a more relaxing mood.  Obviously, the lights where the staff is busy with production need to be bright, but those up front certainly don’t.

Look around your dental office this morning and make an assessment as to how warm and inviting it is and think about those little things you can tweak in its design that will enhance its patient experience and your interior branding along with it.

All About the Setting

Posted on: October 17th, 2012 by James Kuester 2 Comments

Lake Wazeecha in Autumn

When I’m in Wisconsin I have a lovely setting for my evening walks.  The path around Lake Wazeecha is 4.1 miles in length and the perfect setting for a vigorous, one hour walk.  Regardless of the season – okay it is a bit rough going when there is snow on the ground – I’m surrounded by amazing natural beauty which takes my mind off the fact that I’m actually exercising.  Isn’t this precisely what your dental office design is supposed to do?

So many people hate going to visit their dentist, and a great way to help them forget their anxieties and relax is to surround them in a setting that takes their mind off the fact that they are engaged in an activity that they probably would rather not be doing.  Of course, great treatment with a friendly staff is critical to a great patient experience, but a soothing, relaxing dental office design is a key factor in this equation.  One simply cannot have a terrific patient experience if the office setting does not promote relaxation and comfort.

Farther along my walk – Lake Wazeecha, WI

One probably can’t move one’s operatories outside into a wood on the shore of a lake, but there are plenty of opportunities, even in a big city urban environment, to create a dental office design that offers comfort, relaxation, and calming vibes.

What’s Your Color?

Posted on: October 12th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

What is your favorite color? Do you have a favorite?  Some people say they don’t really have a favorite color, but I’m not sure that’s true.  I know my eye is always drawn first to black.  Black clothes, black furniture, black cars – everything I own would be black if I didn’t make a conscious effort to buy other colors.  Black is the color that defines me.  Ruby Ernica says that black, “…denotes independence and Determination.”

The 2012 Pantone Color of the Year is Tangerine Tango.  According to Pantone Color Institute Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman, Tangerine Tango is, “Sophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive.”  The color is, “Reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, [and] marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow, to form a high-visibility, magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy.”  This sounds like a fun color to brighten up the walls of a dental office design.

What color defines you?  Better yet, what color defines your dental office?  Is there a singular color that marries the personality of you, your staff, and your practice that will stimulate an emotional response in your patients that will remind them of this personality?  When working with new clients we spend time trying to uncover this defining color.  Often times the dental practice has already worked with a marketing consultant to develop a color scheme for the brand and if so, we run with that color palette.  If not, then we really work to uncover what the personality of the dental practice team is so this color will be reflected in the interior branding of the new dental office design.

Think about it.  What color defines you and your brand?  The exercise may surprise you!

Personalizing the Patient Experience Through Music

Posted on: September 5th, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

Last week on the Henry Schein sponsored #DentalChat the topic of conversation was music in the dental office.  The general consensus of the conversation seemed to be that music in the office definitely helps create a more soothing, relaxing atmosphere that helps patients have a more positive dental experience.  Many participants recommended using individual iPods or mp3 players and headsets to create an individualized experience for each patient.  As we are big believers in the creation of patient experiences that prompt patients to make referrals and want to visit their dentist, we really like this idea.  This is not an expensive or difficult thing to pull off.

There are a number of ways to accomplish an individualized music experience for your patients in your dental office design.  One of the first things is to begin capturing a patient’s music preference in your patient database.  Then load up a collection of iPod players with playlists of songs from the various genres that your patients have requested.  By offering patients the use of an iPod player when they check in, they can then spend their time in your office listening to exactly the type of music they like.  Of course, through your dental office website and appointment reminder system encouraging patients to bring their own iPod or mp3 player and then they’ll be able to spend their time listening to their own music.  This approach also avoids any licensing issues.

Regardless of the approach you take, the key is to help craft an individualized experience for your patients through the use of music.  What some people find relaxing and soothing may really set others on edge, so offering a wide range of music options is important.  What those participating in the DentalChat last week all agreed on was to avoid just having a television playing in the Reception Area or a radio station playing over your office wide sound system.  Neither of these produce a relaxing and calming atmosphere and in no way make your dental office experience a pleasant one.

Dress for Success

Posted on: August 3rd, 2012 by James Kuester No Comments

We’ve all been told that we should dress for success right?  Well, what does this mean exactly?  To be successful as a dentist how should one dress?

As a child my dentist growing up always wore a white shirt and tie with a white lab coat over it.  Later, when I was in high school he changed this to a medical smock thing and slacks.  Very 1970’s. These days my dentist wears scrubs along with the rest of his staff.  They look right at home and appropriate in these.

This is not a blog on what dentists wear, however, as much as it is about how the office is dressed.  I’m talking about the physical office, though I’m a big believer that everyone in a dental office should be in an appropriately chosen uniform that reflects the branding message of the dental practice.

Research has shown that (and I was reminded of this while watching a movie recently), consumers and clients are willing to pay more for a service from someone that is well dressed over one that is not.  Think about this.  With a small amount of attention to detail concerning what one has on, your patient or client will not hesitate if your fee is higher than your competitor’s. Scrubs being scrubs this also spills over to the physical space of your dental office and how it is “dressed.”  A touch more attention to detail and making sure your dental office is “put together” can mean the difference between commanding a premium in your market or not.  Of course, our good friends at Fancy Scrubs would probably really like it if you specified some of their more designer scrubs for your practice’s uniform.