1. Bring communication to a new level. Using web conferencing for case planning allows real-time communication between you and your clients, making it easier to troubleshoot issues that arise. For instance, Lab Owner Stan Bookstaber, Dentprod, LLC, Marlton, NJ, web conferences with his clients up to six times a week using a Logitec 3000 webcam with a built-in microphone and speakers. He either arranges a time in advance or, if he comes across an issue and needs an answer right away, he sends an instant message to his account to see if he's available to conference.
2. Solve a problem. "Doctors who invest in in-office mills think they can do multiple, same-day anterior restorations while the patient is in the chair, but they quickly realize it's more complicated than that. Our 'One Visit Ceramic Crowns and Veneers' service for CEREC doctors solves their dilemma," says Alwyn Naraine, CDT, CAD/CAM Excellence, in Manhattan. "We go into the office to consult with the patient; do diagnostic waxups; help with tooth preparations and intraoral scans; then design, mill and custom stain the restorations. This service has allowed us to build strong relationships with our doctors. They say our personal and unique service is unmatched and it also creates tremendous trust and confidence between the patient and doctor."
3. Spoil them. "Every so often I go to the dental office in the early morning with a menu from a nice restaurant, and let the whole office order their lunch," says Dusty Owens, Owner, Oakledge Dental Studio, Loma, CO. "Then at noon I bring their food. We visit and talk about all sorts of things--even dentistry. They love it."
4. Be a team player. "I spend about 40% of my time doing doctor and patient consultations mainly for implant and partial cases," says Stacy Whitworth, Whitworth Dental Lab, Knoxville, TN. "I survey patient models on site and decide what appliance would get the best results as far as function and cosmetics. The patient enjoys seeing us both and I explain the path of insertion and what to expect short and long term. It also builds a great relationship with my doctors—they know we share the goal of serving the patient with a quality product."
5. Show, don't tell. Technicians and dentists often rely on photos to communicate shade, characterization and morphology, and sending images instantly through texts or emails streamlines the process and boosts turnaround times. Aaron Hoffman, Co-Owner, Sunflower Dental Studio, Topeka, KS, takes things one step further by using an iPhone/iPad app called Skitch that allows him to quickly crop a photo, then annotate it with circles, arrows and text. The free app is available for download at the iPhone store or Google Play.
6. Know what they want. "When I get a new account, prior to our first case I ask for an appointment with the doctor so we can talk about his personal case preferences," says Dentprod's Bookstaber. "To track them, I bring my client preference questionnaire which covers the use of die spacer, contacts, occlusion, articulators, die trimming, alloys, collars, carvings and more. Their preferences are entered into our system and, when their cases come in, a summary is stapled to the front of the Rx and technicians are responsible for following it. Before the case is returned to the dentist, it's thoroughly checked against the Rx and the preferences, then signed and archived."
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