2020 was one of the hardest years for small businesses I have ever seen. I’ve led companies through recessions and difficult economic times, but what you went through this past year was truly unlike anything we’ve ever seen or could have anticipated.
As I’ve joined the team here at Weave, I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on calls with our customers over the last six months — dentists, just like you, but also physical therapists, veterinarians, optometrists. And I’ve noticed something — many of your challenges are the same, no matter your industry.
The first challenge you share is that inefficient tools and systems are holding you back from truly connecting with your customers. You’re constantly bouncing from your voicemail to a web chat tool to an off-the-shelf email portal to a patient management system or to your accounting software—all while you have to serve and take care of your patient. It’s exhausting! And those aren’t even why you got into business in the first place. These are merely the systems and tools you use and rely upon to operate your business.
Second, competitors are modernizing faster and seem to have more resources to be innovative and meet their customers where they are. It can feel like a hamster wheel — you’re running a million miles an hour just to keep up with the competition, which can be daunting and overwhelming.
And lastly, growth and profitability are your business goals, but they aren’t why you do what you do. You love interacting with patients, you love the impact your care has on their lives, you love the smiles and gratitude they share when you do your job right. You don’t feel the same joy and excitement about answering after-hours calls or shopping around for the right web chat tool or even collecting on overdue payments.
Summing it up — you’re burdened by inefficiencies, you feel the pressure of competition and you don’t enjoy many of the burdensome tasks that can have a major impact on growing your business. Sound familiar?
Well, here’s the good news — you can do something about it. There are two lessons you need to take into account as you navigate the new normal post-COVID.
Customers want to be seen.
The “reply C to confirm” text message approach to communicating with your patients is dying. It was once a scalable, sensible way to make your business more efficient, but we’re in a new era where you don’t have to sacrifice personalization for scalability. Let’s be clear -- most of you yearn for those meaningful conversations and interactions with patients. You want to be freed from the often mind-numbing tasks that pull you away from those experiences. And technology can have a major impact here. But many dentists aren’t catching up fast enough.
Weave commissioned a study last year and found that only 18% of healthcare practices were using texting to its fullest capability. Don’t be one of the practices that falls behind. Modernizing your communications with patients can be a huge advantage over your competition. And you don’t have to spend gobs of money to access those tools now. Enterprise-level point solutions are now at your fingertips like never before — practice analytics, multi-office solutions, team chat to divide and conquer patient communications at scale.
That brings me to a second key lesson...
You have to stay ahead of your customers.
I spoke about this quite a bit at Weave’s Business Growth Summit in May and we’ll discuss more in our July installment as well. Transforming your business has to begin with you. And let me tell you, your ability to transform and adapt is what terrifies your competitors and what will set you apart from them.
Think about this for a second — the iPhone only debuted 15 years ago. Consumer communications have modernized rapidly to make texting more important, to make asynchronous communication more valuable for your patients, and to make immediacy increasingly important. If you can’t get a regular patient into the schedule for an emergency appointment, you may lose them forever. But you also deserve the time to do quality work in the office and have quality time when you’re not in the office. Which is where technology like automated missed-call texts & VoIP can help you help a patient faster, but also do it on your terms.
We’re at the start of a new revolution for small businesses like yours — the tools and technologies that have historically been available to enterprise companies are now at your fingertips and the consumer mindset is shifting in an unprecedented way to create the perfect mixture of circumstances to drive growth for millions of small and local businesses across the globe. And you have to keep up.
Make time every day to learn about your patients’ experiences with your business. You have dozens of ways to ask them for feedback that you can learn and grow from — review sites, surveys, SMS, email, chatbots, web forms — the list goes on and on. The insights and research that can power your growth are right in front of you.
Author: Roy Banks is Chief Executive Officer at Weave. A pioneer in digital payments, Roy has 20 years of experience in high-tech software development, e-commerce, internet marketing and payment processing.