August 2011

Carrie McKay Wins Employee Of The Year!

Last Friday we held our annual summer party at President Karen Galley’s lake house. Each summer we select a date, create a theme, and invite all staff to join in celebration. We close down PNP HQ, and our entire team treks 30 minutes north to get together for team building games, skits, presentations, boating, swimming, and a cocktail or two. We invite spouses to join for dinner and we announce our much-anticipated Employee of the Year.

In 2010, the Centre for Management and Organization wrote that there is a correlation between employee happiness and increased profit margin. Repeat business and referrals equal greater profit, so as business owners, it’s important to remember that it is your people that drive profit levels.

Happy staff equal happy customers equal more revenue. We are very fortunate at Patient News to have a fantastic team who believes in our core values and takes exceptional care of our clients. Bad customer care will keep customers away, so it is essential that a business have an effective and proactive customer servicing approach, starting with a positive teamwork environment.

At PNP we started our Employee of the Year program almost 10 years ago. It was an extension of our successful launch of the Fish! Philosophy, the story about the fish market in Seattle. The four key tenets include choose your attitude, remember to play, be present, and make someone’s day. It’s a perfect motto for a group of individuals working together, and it’s also very practical in life. We sent our first EOY and spouse to Nassau for an all-expenses-paid vacation including a deep sea fishing event. The theme that year was fish after all!

Since then we have expanded our employee recognition programs. Staff selects the Fish of the Day, we accept nominations and secret admirer ballots in our multiple suggestion box options, and each month the management team selects an Employee of the Month who receives an extra day off and a VIP parking spot! From this select group we award our Employee of the Year and we’ve sent our staff all around the world. Sales & Service Manager Jon Petrie and his wife went to Paris in 2003, Senior Graphic Designer Betty James jetted off to London the year we expanded services into the UK. Others have been to Spain, Jamaica, a Caribbean cruise, Vegas, Senior Account Manager Jean Broersma hit Manhattan, and Senior Account Manager Pamela Fletcher went to Costa Rica the year we celebrated our commitment to the environment.

How do you create happy staff? Treat people with respect. Say good morning. Acknowledge their efforts and engage them in your plans. Provide the tools and training. Provide opportunity and accountability. Have FUN beyond a team luncheon. Recently we launched the Betterment of PNP program offering financial awards for great ideas, ideas that could have an impact on any aspect of bettering Patient News from our product offering to cost savings to our culture. Everyone was invited to participate and we received 88 distinct ideas from 40 of our staff.

It’s always nice to provide whatever extra perks you can reasonably afford. What about one extra week of vacation each year? Can you set up an outside patio with a barbecue? A games area? Can you provide dedicated fitness time, a break room, coffee & tea service? Can you enhance your medical benefit support? Can you bring in fresh fruit each week or provide flexible work hours?

What about special events that people look forward to and anticipate? We never miss our annual overnight holiday function, our ski day, and our summer party. This year our summer theme was Red Motion, supporting the launch of our redesigned logo with emphasis on our corporate color, and to highlight that Patient News is on the move. We split into four teams, each with the task “show us the red.” Wonderfully creative skits ranged from musicals: PNP … We’re Dy-na-mite, It’s Not Easy Being Green, and A Fish Named Red, to a poem recital of our Red Fishing Expedition. (The Fish! Philosophy is ingrained in everything we do at PNP!)

So Friday’s Red Motion Party was another great event with good cheer and happy memories created and shared. And Patient News is in motion. We’re launching new products, expanding services, and growing our team.

Congratulations to Carrie McKay, Senior Account Manager, who has been dedicated, loyal, creative, and passionate about PNP for close to 10 years. She’ll be enjoying a week in red-hot Miami – at the exclusive boutique Red South Beach Resort.

I got a feeling … “that tonight’s gonna be a good night…”

Doesn’t that line from the Black Eyed Peas song make you feel good? What about …. “I’m walkin’ on sunshine … woooah…” If you’re my age, that has to make you smile!

Here are a few easy tips to put more feeling into your patient interactions at the front desk which may help increase your appointment scheduling success. At Patient News we’re only face-to-face with clients at trade shows or occasional in-office meetings. We do all of our business by phone and Internet, so the importance of voice inflection, being present, and focusing on the caller and smiling while we’re on the phone have all been central to our frontline training program. But sometimes when you do something all the time and it becomes second nature, you can slip and you need that little reminder to bring a particular component back into focus.

That’s why continuing education is so important, not just for the big tasks we’re taking care of, but also the little things that make a big impression on clients and prospects (and each other).

Last week when I attended our account management team training course that covered voice inflection and how tone impacts our success online, it brought back the importance of properly handling phone and online interactions. (You know … It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it). They had us do a few fun (and a little embarrassing) role plays to show how much what you’re feeling when you speak impacts what you’re saying. Any frontline team can gain benefit from this exercise, in fact, we can all learn how our mood is impacting others and how we can easily adjust to create a much more positive interaction for the other person (whether it’s in person or not). We’re in the dental industry so we all know that we’re supposed to smile when we’re on the phone. But the course took it one step further by asking us to put “feeling” behind the smile.

We all know this is true. If you’ve been around in business for any length of time you’ll remember the little fuzzy guy that was stuck to your phone to make you smile when you answered it. As dentists, you’ll probably be even more emphatic about the impact of a smile and how people can “hear” it. But for frontline folks that are trying to book a new-patient appointment or reactivate an existing patient, when they take it further than just putting on a smile, it can have a big impact. The trainer asked us to say things as if we were bored, flirtatious, angry, sexy, excited… Try this at your next morning huddle as a group … “we need a volunteer…” As if you are bored, say the following words (out loud)…
- Good morning. Dr. Smith’s practice.
- Yes, we have one-hour whitening.
- We can fit you in at 2:00.

Now, think of something that makes you feel really good. What gets you going and makes you happy? Mountain biking? Skiing? Watching your favorite team win a championship? Transforming a patient’s smile that had lost hope for one? Running to hug your child after time spent apart? Riding a roller coaster?

Now we need another volunteer! As if you’re really happy and excited, say the following words aloud…
- Good morning. Dr. Smith’s practice.
- Yes, we have one-hour whitening.
- We can fit you in at 2:00.

Start by making sure you have a warm welcome script for everyone to use who answers your phone. You want the new patient to know you’re happy they called your practice – this will start your relationship with them on a positive note. When someone answers the phone with enthusiasm and brightness, it can’t help but lift the callers’ spirits and overall enjoyment. People remember what happens first and last, so also script your closing comment. Again, amp up your enthusiasm. It will instill confidence and a positive first impression with the new patient. Always say thank you and add a simple “looking forward to meeting you when you come in on … You’re going to love our practice” message (but not in your bored voice).

Beyond scripting, how can you stay in that “happy” zone all day when you’re dealing with crying children, complaining patients, late patients, impatient patients, collections, maintaining the schedule, checking patients in and checking patients out, reminder calls – your colleagues and their various moods? Here’s a saying that I like to remind myself of: We can’t control what happens to us, we can only control how we react to it. Stay positive.

Put a mirror at the phone so when answering, you can see yourself smiling. Place personal pictures and things that make you feel good where you can see them while on the phone. Run the role play exercise as a group, have a few laughs, and then work together as a team to make sure your practice is not only positive for patients, but also for your entire team.

If you’d like more information about generating more new patient calls, please call our expert team any time for a free consultation at 888.377.2404. We are available from 8:30am-6:00pm EST Monday-Friday. Patient News is here to help you Acquire, Retain, & Grow!