Recent events with several manufacturers have inspired this blog. I am proud of the service levels in this industry – and for the most part, and in most ways I think we do an exceptional job of taking care of our customers and their needs. However – even when you are already good, there is always room for improvement. Take things to a new level and create an even more impressive experience…. I wanted to relate a level of service that I am highly impressed by in the automotive industry from a company that was recently named as the #1 Car builder in the world….BMW.
First – Thanks to some of YOU for talking me into buying a BMW!! And perhaps it’s not just that I bought a BMW – but I bought it from a dealer that continues to impress me! I have had to take my car in for some minor warranty issues (yes, even great equipment has warranty issues – dental or not). The dealer was very patient in finding an annoying squeak and had my car back several times in the shop. But each time I was warmly welcomed, got appointments that were very convenient for ME and MY TIME, and most importantly provided a COMPARABLE or better loaner so I would be rarely inconvenienced.
This is a level of service we all expect when we spend GOOD MONEY on a product that is represented as industry leading quality. The “Gold Standard”, the crème de la crème! I was even more impressed by my dealer, Bema auto sport, when I took my car in for the no charge regular maintenance (included in the price of my car – but a GREAT idea for dental to include maintenance in the warranty period!). The dealership arranged a ride for me to the airport on the day I booked my car in for service, but even further, brought my vehicle BACK to the airport on the day I was scheduled to arrive back in Canada so I could use my own vehicle without having to pay for parking the whole week! I was already impressed by that service – but when I saw how they detailed my car and it looked as good as it did when I bought it 6 months ago I was beyond impressed. These people treat their customers how I strive to treat you my friends!!
I am writing this from a different perspective though. Many of you who deal with me DO get that type of service – but its’ not a rule for our industry. The loaners that some companies currently provide are generally really old, beat up and there is a mile long waiting list. They don’t carry enough loaners, especially for more ‘rare’ pieces of equipment…but still very valuable while in use to their owners! While you wait for a loaner (which should never take longer than scheduling your repair) it’s rather disappointing to get someone else’s old piece of junk to use while your well treated equipment has to go away for several WEEKS for repair!! Generally, this is equipment you CANT or DONT WANT to live without. Often I have had repairs come back with a charge for an estimate as well as charges for shipping, handling, and all that after insulting the customer by either NOT providing a top notch loaner and often the repaired item STILL doesn’t work!
It’s not satisfactory. It’s not even close.
You know me. I am not a complainer – I am an idea guy. I see poor service as an opportunity. There is a LOT of opportunity – and not just in our market!! How often do you have a disappointing customer experience. I rarely get too annoyed, I just start thinking “How can I get into this industry and provide a level of service that I would expect to get myself?”
The world has SO MUCH opportunity!!
So back to dental…here are some ideas I hope get noticed by my friends!!
Dear Dental Supplier/Manufacturer;
Why not provide NEW and CURRENT equipment as a loaner when items are sent for repair? Regardless of the item. Regardless of how many new items you have to turn into loaners and demos? I KNOW you are and should be PROUD of the products you build. They are top notch quality, right? If they are that good – why not factor in a small percentage to your margin and go after that high end market that provides levels of service nobody could beat. If the quality is there, it should be RARE to have to provide a loaner! If it isn’t there, maybe you have to provide too many loaners and will learn to build a higher quality product to begin with.
Either way – be proud of your quality and learn to provide these to the dealers or to the end users as a loaner, and the opportunity not only to impress the customer with a high service level (which will bring back a repeat, loyal customer) but also the chance to show off the newest and latest equipment. It can be hard to use a current curing light while your old corded light is sent away for repair and then go back to that old beast. I would bet the companies that offer this level of service will also enjoy higher sales of new equipment, happier, more loyal customers and a great reputation.
The loaner could also be used as a demo unit – and any new piece of equipment could become a loaner/demo. After a short period of time – these units would be re-conditioned and sold off. I believe there would be a strong market for this! It isn’t hard to find someone to buy a lightly used loaner/demo for a 10 – 20% discount!
Fresh new ideas….it’s time for some changes! What do you think?
-Include maintenance and service on your product during the lifespan of the warranty (great way to make sure your products have less ‘just after the warranty expired’ break downs.)
-Provide your latest, greatest product as a loaner and demo. Sell them off regular and rotate your loaner/demo stock. You will enjoy higher sales and a great reputation!
-Treat your customers how YOU would like to be treated! If your product is going to be the “BMW” of the industry – then provide that level of service!
-Excellent Demo Program. Make sure you get a demo into your customers hands within 24 hours of a request. If you don’t have a demo available, send a new one with 30 day money back. These can become loaners/demo units.
-Make sure you provide EXCELLENT installation and training on Demo and new products. Have a FANTASTIC, MEDIA RICH website providing step by step instructions on use, maintenance. It’s CHEAP to put up a YOUTUBE video of your product in use. Why don’t more of you do this? Step by step ‘unboxing and set up’ on the internet?
-How about a certified used equipment department from major suppliers? It would help retain the value asked when selling new, top notch equipment if owners had opportunity to trade in. Trade ins would be a GREAT IDEA for our industry. There are limited, but high value items that retain value and would result in regular equipment upgrades for a percentage of the market. There is definitely a market for used top quality equipment, especially if it was provided by a full service dealer and backed up by a manufacturer – refurbished and rewarranted.
Dental sundry manufacturers….I have a whole separate blog for you! Even when you are the TOP of your GAME – why not find a way to shake up the standard and take your service to a whole new level!! Set the rules for the game. Be that company that every one else has to keep up to.
I am PASSIONATE about my industry – and my goal of constant improvement. Sharing my ideas after many years of experience is a privilege.