Lab Management Today recently reported that one of the important factors dentists consider when changing dental labs is communication. While dental laboratories are healthcare service providers and important to the success of interdisciplinary dental care, they are also businesses serving a client base. And key to keeping clients successful and happy for any B2B business is effective and consistent communication. It is hard to beat the old-fashioned phone call or face to face meeting. However, here are a few other suggestions to help you as a dental laboratory owner stay on top of the increasingly important communication aspect of your business.
1. Social Media: I have written before on tips for incorporating social media into a communication plan. One of the most important aspects is commitment and consistency. Once you decide to include social channels in your communication mix, it is necessary to update consistently. The content you use to update your social channels helps to tell the story of your brand to both your current customers and prospective clients. So, put your best foot and work forward. Celebrate large or difficult cases you have completed for customers. Show off new technology incorporated into the laboratory. Periodically promote new materials or techniques you’ve learned. However, be careful not to turn your social channels into a bullhorn for price promotions or special offers. Social media provide opportunities for conversations with customers and prospective clients. Give them something to talk about (and share).
2. Study Clubs: Dental study clubs are common, and many dentists are a member of more than one. Involving yourself in a dental study club is a way to take the face to face meeting one step further and deeper. By being involved in a top customer’s study club, you as the lab owner have the opportunity to add an extra layer of value and to show off your knowledge and abilities. Ask a local specialist to either be a part of their study club or to present as a guest. Invite study clubs to hold meetings at your laboratory. Even start your own study club with a mix of good customers, customers you would like to work with more, and dentists you would like to have on your client list. A dental study club provides an opportunity to form new relationships and deepen current ones. Plus, it provides a spark of content for your other communication efforts.
3. Online Case Collaboration: There are a few ways to collaborate with clients online, but first and foremost you must ensure that you select a method that complies with HIPAA, PIPEDA, and any other relevant patient privacy regulations. Providing your customers with an online communication and collaboration service is more than just an added value and high-tech marketing positioning tactic. It helps to make your laboratory an extension of the dentists’ and specialists’ teams. It also allows you to keep everyone involved in cases up to date with their progress in real-time at the click of a button. Photo and digital impression STL file sharing and annotations are also possible. Furthermore, it is a useful tool to keep in close contact with customers who are not local and with whom you cannot meet on a regular basis.
For any business, a comprehensive communication plan to address both customers and prospective customers is one key to success. And dental laboratories are no different. A mix of different tactics supporting your brand message is the best approach. It is important to be consistent, professional, and a source of valuable content in whichever vehicles you choose. It can be a daunting task, but with thought, genuineness, and keeping your customers’ best interests in mind, executing a communication plan is well worth the effort. Next time, I’ll take a look at three additional methods to help dental laboratories stay on top of communication.
Author’s Note: I originally wrote this article for my friends at PlanetProto, and it was published there on July 17, 2013.