Dr. Amy Stone 

When I was starting my endodontic (root canal specialist) practice 11 years ago, I had a wise mentor tell me that the key to success was to make it a priority to focus on what is best for the customer, even if that affects my bottom line.

If you make your customers happy, they will be your No. 1 marketing source telling their friends about you. For example, in my practice, customers are patients as well as referring general dentists.

Many times businesses spend their time and resources trying to obtain new customers at the expense of their current customers. You should treat the customers you already have ethically, professionally and how you would like to be treated.

Customer support directly affects retention. Keeping an existing customer will cost you much less than obtaining a new customer. Happy customers will result in referrals to their friends and family, which will become a large source of new customers in your business.

The majority of unhappy customers will not tell you they are unhappy but will tell all of their friends or — in this digital age — blast you on their social media where even “friends of friends” will hear about their bad experience with your company.

As a business owner, I recognize that it’s your job to manage your bottom line. However, putting your customer first actually results in increasing your bottom line.

Here are four ways to improve your customer service today:

Keep communication clear. Let’s be honest: getting a root canal is not at the top of anyone’s bucket list. In my case, patients are often coming to me in pain and are unsure of what a root canal entails. For example, we fill in the root, not cut the root out. After explaining the treatment process in detail to our patients, answering their questions and genuinely addressing their concerns, they are usually relieved and ready for the procedure.

Have a proper way for customers to reach you. We always follow up the night of or the next morning with a phone call to check on our patients and answer questions. We have 24/7 access to an assistant or doctor, offering the utmost customer service.

In today’s digital age, it is easier than ever to be available to your customers. It is very important to get back with them in a timely manner. In our office, we still have someone at the front desk answering every phone call in a friendly and professional voice. In today’s world, it is rare for a human to answer the phone. So customers are thrilled when they have a real person to talk to about their needs.

Quantity is not as important as quality. Dr. Zack Ritter and I intentionally work on a set amount of root canals per day because this allows us to offer the time needed to make sure the customer experience is of the best quality. We could easily do more root canals each day, which would increase our revenue, but our quality would suffer.

Our No. 1 goal has always been to do what is in the best interest of the patient, which we believe has resulted in many referrals from happy patients and general dentists, ultimawtely increasing our bottom line.

Reward your employees. When your employees go above and beyond to offer excellent customer service, reward them. Make that part of the culture of your company and accept nothing less. Enjoy your work family. After all, we often spend more time with them than our real families.

Do you want to get an edge up on your competition? Customer service is a proven way to do just that. You may not have the biggest building or hundreds of employees, but offering the best customer service always wins and costs you nothing. There is nothing more powerful than your customers becoming advocates for you by doing the marketing for you.

Dr. Amy Stone has owned Tulsa Endodontic Associates since 2006.

The views expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily the Tulsa World. To inquire about writing a Business Viewpoint column, email a short outline of the article to Business Editor Colleen Almeida Smith at The column should focus on a business trend; the outlook for the city, state or an industry; or a topic of interest in an area of the writer’s expertise.

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