Küster Dental Blog

Posts Tagged ‘interior 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.

You Have them at “Hello”

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

“Hello!”

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.

What Sets Your Dental Office Apart?

Posted on: March 24th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A three legged stool - dentistry, service, design

A three legged stool – dentistry, service, design

What sets your dental practice off from all of the competition?  What is your unique value proposition that keeps patients coming back and motivates them to refer their family and friends to your door?  “We provide great oral healthcare,” you say.  “But,” I challenge, so do the guys down the street – and across town, and in the next township over.  I would say that merely providing really good healthcare is not enough to brand differentiate your dental practice from all of the competition. Of course, this is something that every dental practice should be striving for. In fact, I’d contend they should be striving to provide exceptional oral healthcare. However, in an environment where dentistry is viewed as a commodity there has to be more to your brand beyond exceptional care.  The entire dental experience must be exceptional.

The hard part of building a business is in identifying that unique element that sets it apart from all of its competition.  We call this the “defining touch” of the business.  Once identified the business must have a specific plan on how to shape, hone, and refine this touch into the sharp sword of excellence that will give it an edge over the competition.  It is not enough to be good at one does.  One must strive for excellence in order to attract new patients, retain the ones you’ve got, and build a practice that flourishes.  Of course, we firmly believe that the design of the dental office is integral to this defining element and that success cannot be achieved without weaving the design of the physical space and the design of the patient service together into a symbiotic whole.  All three legs of the dentistry, service, and office design “stool” must be strong if it is going to support a winning team.

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?

The More Special Dental Experience

Posted on: March 7th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments
A Lindt truffle

A Lindt truffle

Do you remember when your dentist gave you a sucker after your appointment?  I do.  I loved Charm Pops and going to the dentist was the only time I ever got one.  Getting to pick out a grape one after my appointment made me feel special and helped take away the anxiety of having to go in the first place.  (I feared having a cavity and having my teeth pulled.)

The other night I returned to my hotel room following a banquet to find a Lindt chocolate on my pillow and the bed turned down.  While many consider such touches to be old fashion, I find them quite nice. The simple touch was a nice surprise coming back to the room after a long day.

I understand why dentists don’t give out sugary candy after appointments anymore.  A bit self-serving and not exactly a promotion of good oral health, but there are other ways to add a special little touch to one’s dental experience to make the trip more special.  (I friend and co-advisor in a youth group I work with likes to call this “specialer”.)  So, the goal is to design a dental experience that is “specialer” so patients feel good about their visits and time spent there.  When a “specialer” experience is achieved patients refer more family and friends about how great their experience was, which translates into growth for the practice.  And, the best part is creating a “specialer” dental experience only requires little touches – remember the Charm Pops and Lindt chocolate.

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.”

Getting Your Practice Name to “Go Viral”

Posted on: February 5th, 2014 by James Kuester No Comments

Did you watch the Super Bowl last Sunday evening?  If so, did you happen to see the Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” ad?  If not, the ad features a wide range of diverse people all singing “America the Beautiful” with sweeping vistas from across the country playing across the background.  At the end the epitomes Coca-Cola bottle spins onto the screen.  While I’m not sure exactly what this has to do with Coca-Cola other than perhaps to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of the people that drink their products, the ad seems to have been very effective in generating a lot of attention.  People all over Facebook, Twitter, and the news networks were talking about it both Sunday night and all day on Monday.  Since the goal of advertising is to get people to remember your company’s name, product, or both, I’d say Coca-Cola and their ad agency scored a hit with this one.

Having the name of one’s dental practice “go viral” and be repeated over and over again by patients is the goal in designing an exceptional patient experience.  I’m qualifying the experience as exceptional as I don’t believe any dental practice really wants the kind of word-of-mouth marketing that goes along with offering a poor experience.  I’ve read that patients are ten times more likely to tell friends and family about a poor experience than they are a positive one, so one must be striving for excellence in the experience they offer if talk about the dental experience is going to “go viral” like Coke’s Super Bowl ad.  The design of the dental office is one of the key foundations of crafting an exceptional patient experience.  The colors, light, and texture all play together to set the stage for the human interaction and treatment that patients receive.

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.

The Road Less Straight – Building A Dental Brand that Departs from the Typical

Posted on: November 11th, 2013 by James Kuester No Comments
Do you take the path less straight?

Do you take the path less straight?

One of the biggest challenges of any dental office is figuring out how to differentiate from the competing offices across the street and around the corner.  There was a trend a few years ago to leave traditional dental office spaces and venture into strip malls and spaces reserved traditionally for retail businesses.  The freestanding building is still a popular option, but gone seem to be the days when a dentist buys an old house and converts it into the dental office.  This type of office design just doesn’t resonate with patients and makes one’s brand seem old-fashioned and stuffy.

The brand of any small business is important, but especially so for a dentist.  The brand of your dental office is the emotional response patients get when they think about visiting you.  If they are going to come back for follow-up appointments and if they are going to recommend you to their family and friends, this emotional response had better be a positive one.  While there are so many things that enter into creating this emotional response – your brand – the design of the office itself and the interaction with the people in the practice are probably the most critical.  These two factors are the foundation that the brand is built on.  Your patients expect you to perform great dentistry, but do you do so in an environment that is warm, friendly, welcoming, and memorable?  Or, are you performing dentistry in an environment that is hum-drum, tired, typical, sterile, and not very friendly?  Which dental office do you think has the stronger brand?  Which office do you think has lower cancellations and more referrals?