You know what’s good for business? Loyalty. That’s where the big bucks are people, or at least, the predictable bucks (which are the best kind). And nothing creates customer loyalty like awesome frontline staff – people who bring your brand to life and go the extra mile for your customers everyday.
There aren’t any shortcuts to building loyalty – you have to earn it, just like trust. But it IS possible to boost it by stepping up for customers in their moments of panic. If you can make things better for a customer, when everything’s going wrong, they’re more likely to stick by you when competitors come knocking.
A couple of months ago, I got some new front teeth. When you get crowns, there’s a wait period while your molds are sent off to the New-Teethery. In the meantime you have temporaries fitted – they look the same as your old teeth, but they’re a lot more… porous. I knew this, but kind of forgot, until I was on my way to meet with new, quite-important clients.
It was a busy day. I’d wolfed down some lunch while scrambling to get my things together, then run out the door without looking in a mirror. Stopped at the lights, I glanced in the rear view mirror and did a double take. It looked like someone had swapped my front teeth for the nibs from some yellow highlighters. Guys, the photo doesn’t do it justice. They were Yellow, with a capital Y; very noticeably, distinctly fluorescent. The culprit? My lunch: home-made curry with lots (and I mean lots) of turmeric.
My first panicked call was to the dentist’s office and Sharla, the practice manager answered, like she always does. She stopped me hyperventilating by sharing her similar experience with American mustard. She recommended lemonade (or champagne) to take some of the colour out, then waited around until after I finished my meeting to help me get the yellow off.
Practice manager isn’t the role that gets all the glory, but it’s Sharla who checks in the day after an appointment, and helps you judge whether those niggles are just in your head. She tells you how long you can leave things between appointments, or what to watch for when you’re expecting an abscessing tooth to get ugly.
So yeah. Sharla is amazing. Dr Matt, my dentist, is technically excellent and has a peaceful bedside manner and his nurses and assistants are also brilliant, but if I had to name one thing that kept me loyal, it’d be her. Outside of the chair, she drives the patient experience, which, let’s be honest, is the part that makes me rebook. If you don’t think too much about it, you’d be a bit worried for Matt: what would he do if Sharla left? Where would he find another like her?
But if you’re reading this Dr Matt – DON’T PANIC.
How do you find the staff that make customers desperately, fanatically loyal?
The truth is, great employees make businesses great, but it works the other way too – great businesses make employees great. We’ve talked about this before – how ‘fit’ is far more important that personality or competence.
Most dentists out there would have you believe they hold patient care at the very centre of what they do. Very few actually deliver on that. Not because they’re liars, or bad people. It’s more that deciding what company culture you want is a very, very long way from actually having it.
In this business the management has, consciously, or unconsciously, set a tone. He seems genuinely driven by giving people a good experience. More importantly, he’s managed to create an environment where Sharla can live that culture too. He can trust her to be wonderful, and then gives her the resources (and freedom) to do it.
But plop Sharla down into another environment, where she’s not supported and trusted the same way and where her values don’t align so strongly with the company and things might be different. She’s likely to be just as efficient and personable, but she may not get the chance to display the extra layer of wonderful that creates that magical customer loyalty.
So, it’s not Sharla herself laying the golden loyalty eggs; the synergy between company culture and an employee that perfectly fits is the real goose.
Culture fit, ya’ll, it’s crucial to a company’s success – and I recommend never going to the dentist without it.
Because we believe in giving shout-outs to companies who put their people and culture first, you can find Matt and Sharla (and the rest of the awesome team) at Accent Dental. Nice work on being awesome guys – we’re inspired by you.
If you want to find your own Sharla, give Weirdly a try. Just pick a handful of attributes you’re looking for and we’ll create a custom recruitment quiz for you in under 30secs. No credit card needed.