Dr David Hills, founder of iNEEDa Dentist, standing in dentist waiting room

How good customer service cures dentist dread

‘Going to the dentist’ never tops the list of people’s favourite things to do, but Dr David Hills at least wants to take the pain away from the process.


Last year, about 36,000 Australians were admitted to hospital for preventable dental issues and around 30% of Australians with private health insurance didn’t visit the dentist for a regular checkup, despite most policies providing rebates.

When Dr David Hills started iNEEDa Dentist, his aim was to improve Australia’s dental health. What he discovered was the real reason people weren’t comfortable going to the dentist – and it wasn’t all needles and drills. Fear of the unknown, from the steps of the dental procedure itself to the likely bill at the end, were obstacles for many patients.

Pure Public Relations represents iNEEDa Dentist, a comparison platform that gives customers transparency. The platform connects patients with a practice in their preferred location for the service they need and offers a price guide along with health insurance coverage details, dentist reviews and a 24/7 appointment booking service. Patients can even ask for a second opinion on a proposed procedure.

Dr David Hills (second from right), on Sky Business News’ Marketing Matters

We secured Dr David, a dentist, a spot on Sky News Business’ Marketing Matters program so he could speak about the importance of a positive customer experience and to show that even going to the dentist can be a positive experience. And Dr David’s advice applies to any business, in any industry:


Remove pain points

“Creating a positive customer experience comes down to looking at what are the pain points for the consumer?” he explained.

“Cost is a big part of that. So, on the website we display what the average cost should be for any given dental procedure.”

Secondary to cost is convenience. Making it easier for patients to make an appointment by offering 24/7 bookings online, and addressing the fear of the unknown through virtual 3D tours of dental clinics, unedited reviews, and detailed information about each clinic, means “breaking down those barriers,” he noted.

The customer experience starts well before a patient is in the chair, so planning a customer experience should be embedded in everything a business does, Dr David said. “It should always be in the background or always be in their mind from designing their website, from the first interaction with their business, their brand, to the design of their physical space, the retail or the practice itself. And all the way through we should be looking at customer experience and how it relates to all of our products, services and even the space.”


Counting customers’ smiles

While marketing is central in many industries, it’s not a mature practice for healthcare practitioners, which means the dentists and other healthcare providers who invest in customer service and who give patients what they want are seeing good returns.

Dr David measures return on investment through repeat customers, active patients who return once every six to twelve months. “Also, the number of new patients. Word-of-mouth will be a good indication if someone’s had a great experience at your practice ­– they’re going to tell all their friends and family and that’s going to generate more new customers to your practice.”

Clinics, as with other businesses, should focus on their point of difference and advertise it, Dr David advised. For example, “Advertise the fact that you provide a free Uber service to your business and get the word out there through other marketing means.” This includes multiple ways to prove you do good work, from testimonials and review sites, to social media rankings and influencers sharing posts about their experiences.

Most crucial of all is ensuring that the customer experience is positive. Train your staff and make sure the last thing a customer hears from you gives them a positive last impression. It may sound obvious, but too many businesses leave the customer experience at the point of payment or at the completion of a job.

“Everything we do is marketing. Everything we say, every interaction we have with a patient or a customer is part of our marketing,” said David. “Customer service is a part of customer experience.”


You can hear more from Dr David Hills, founder of our client iNEEDa, on the Marketing Matters segment on customer experience: https://marketingmatterstv.com/episodes/episode-24-customer-experience/


Phoebe Netto, founder of Pure Public Relations

Phoebe Netto is the founder of Pure Public Relations, a PR firm that focuses on outcomes, not output – it’s pure and simple. For over ten years, Pure Public Relations has been bringing big business experience to SMEs and not-for-profits. purepublicrelations.com.au

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