Our practice Manager, Daniel, recently sat down with Zach Hoskins of Client Experience Architect to share what makes the Smile Doctor dental experience so different from other dental offices in Springfield, Missouri.
To see how different we are you might just have to make a reservation.
Client Experience Architect Interview with Zach Hoskins and Daniel Green
Originally recorded in November 2018 and republished April 2019.
Don’t want to read? Listen to Zach’s podcast with Daniel here.
Zach, I would like to begin by diving into your background and story Daniel. Our listeners would like to know how you got to where you are now and how your business started to give some context.
Thank you, Zach, thanks for considering Springfield Smile Doctor for the Client Experience Architect Podcast.
For Dr. Green and Springfield Smile Doctor, it’s a tale of two stories. I will share a brief bit about my own background and dive more into my wife’s, Dr. Randi Green’s story and how we arrived in Springfield almost a decade ago.
For the last 15 years, I built my career in marketing, advertising, and design. I had the pleasure to work with small teams in a boutique, intimate setting all the way up to the largest employee-owned advertising agency in the United States. I was able to hone my skills in many different areas working with clients all over the United States.
I have always had a keen desire to design everything around me, and that chance was realized after working with 5 different marketing agencies in the last 15 years.
My first love is design which is the university degree that I pursued. At Smile Doctor, we put design at the forefront of our decision-making process. I also enjoyed fostering client and patient relationships, understanding a specific user experience or working with a client and internal teams to utilize business and design strategies for extensive omnichannel projects. I have been a part of many website and app builds and loved being a part of the process by leading, researching and designing for those experiences.
One of the pitfalls of any type of designer is that they’re not ingrained into the business side of their decision-making process and genuinely don’t understand the impact of their decisions or designs.
This frustration became crystal clear to me after the birth of our child as I was commuting from Springfield to Kansas City regularly in the same working day and started to see the writing on the wall.
After discussing what my next career move with Randi would be, I never dreamed it would be coming to work full-time her—Dr. Green, my wife—at Springfield Smile Doctor.
I had been the guy behind the scenes orchestrating her digital footprint, and strategically managing the message and brand.
We talked about it for 6 months before actually executing the plan, and now I am 3 years into an entirely new career field that I love.
Working with any client in the past I’ve had to adapt and become a subject matter expert, but by focusing my effort and adjusting to dental and health was a fulfilling transition. Not to mention we could now keep the same schedule, pick up our kiddo together from daycare.
I hear some people that say, "Man, I could never work with my wife, let alone for her." I tell them that I am proud to work for a strong, smart leader trailblazing her own path into whole-health physiologic dentistry and to have skills and training that people near and far are seeking.
Because of this, we have grown closer together personally as we made the decision to share the same space at work together. We do set some boundaries about the amount of “dental speak” at home, but I relish the fact that I get to wake up every day and be a part of the process of changing and transforming someone’s life with her and the smile team.
Now for me having the ability to see and be a part of the Smile Doctor brand for the last 8 years gives me purview to the whole process. In working for my wife’s premier dental practice in Springfield, Missouri, I see the impact every day for how she changes people’s lives and builds long-term relationships with her guests and patients who become part of our dental family.
Now about Dr. Green, and the real reason for the interview! She graduated #1 in her dental class of over 30. She possesses multiple awards and honors, she is recognized as a successful and philanthropic female business owner and is consistently voted by her dental peers as a TopDentist in Springfield for many consecutive years.
Before settling down in Springfield, she completed an advanced general dental residency which focused on cosmetic dentistry. She also helped kids in the juvenile system to better understand the importance of the impact of their oral health on their quality of life.
It was after these experiences that she found herself in a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi working as an associate for another dentist in a large private dental practice.
She was able to serve that community through her skill, but she would often get discouraged at the fact of making people wait stacked on top of each other in a large waiting room.
She often found that dental insurance companies could interrupt the relationship with her patient and ultimately have an insurance company dictate what her patient would or would not do to get healthy.
For someone like her, one year of working for a doctor like that was all she could handle. She set her sights on how to make the most significant impact on the lives of her patients.
So being #1 and having a trailblazer mentality Dr. Green would not settle for a life of working for any other dentist that didn’t have the same aspirations and uphold the same ideals of health care.
In 2010 we had the opportunity to uproot, move and make a fresh start. She became set on owning and running her practice the way she intended, to give her patients the best “quality” of care.
After the research phase, a few dental practices stood out. One, in particular, was a doctor practicing in Springfield with a different take on dentistry. This doctor, Dr. Brenda Herrman was versed in a patient-centered approach to dentistry which was very different from most practices we visited or talked to.
You have to understand that most dental offices try to see as many people in one day. This can lead to a lesser quality of care because the doctor or team just can’t spend any time with you. They have to move along to the next guest and so on.
I've even heard of dental offices here in Springfield that double and even triple book their hygiene schedules! I don't know about you but if I'm number three in line at the same time slot for the same provider for any service some part of that experience is going to feel rushed or not done to a quality standard.
Dr. Green has talked about this on the radio, and she wrote a blog about this called "Practicing on Roller Skates."
Dr. Herrman built the foundation of Springfield Smile Doctor, but she ultimately wanted to pursue other goals so our timing to enter into this new venture was right.
The Smile Doctor name has been around since 2000, and we decided to continue and expand the existing brand equity and goodwill when Dr. Green took over the practice in 2011 as the newly minted Springfield Smile Doctor.
One of the stipulations of the lender when taking over the practice was that Dr. Green be trained in the same methodology and philosophy that Dr. Herrman studied to provide patients that same continuity of care.
After a lot of soul searching, thinking, and praying, she actually closed her brand new practice for the entire first week to start her journey training at LVI. That took guts and faith!
LVI is the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies which is just north of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is here in Summerlin, a charming suburban area, north of the strip is where she found her real passion - helping people escape the pain of TMJ disorder.
Fast forward to today, and she is the only practicing LVI Fellow in southwest Missouri, and Dr. Randi Green is currently the most highly-trained LVI fellow, practicing physiologic dentistry in Missouri.
It’s necessary background information to understand why we’re so different at Smile Doctor and why she pivoted away from seeing as many patients in a day as possible.
Waiting in any waiting room because the dentist or doctor makes hygiene triple book one chair all day is the opposite of how Dr. Green and her smile team view healthcare.
Fast forward eight years later and we’ve moved the Smile Doctor boutique dental experience into a new location in south Springfield to offer our guests and patients quality care in a more convenient location and a calm, relaxed boutique setting.
Zach, What do you think is most important when it comes to your patients?
Providing them with the very best dental experience possible. Period. It’s easy to see from reading our Google reviews and feedback and that our patients understand we’re different in almost every aspect of dental care in Springfield.
You could really say that we’re a customer service company first that provides premier dental care and services to our patients. From the first interaction on a text or phone call — to the second a new patient walks through the door, the entire team is well-versed and trained for how to provide a level of customer service rarely seen in health care.
We often share stories among our internal team of good and bad experiences that we all have out in the world with a company or service, and like it or not — one interaction can leave a lasting impression for any brand.
We have 5 star Google reviews for how we handle phone calls, and it really starts there.
I said earlier it’s a tale of two stories and this is a perfect example of the uncommon Smile Doctor experience. I worked for a large marketing agency that introduced this concept to me several years ago as the (FMOT) or First Moment of Truth — a telephone conversation or an in-person greeting.
I mean how often do you feel underwhelmed by an experience? I would say it probably leans to more disappointment than joy. We focus on that one thing, which is actually many small things that make this whole experience that make us stand apart from any other dental experience in Springfield.
There is also a (ZMOT) Zero Moment of Truth. When our guest interacts with our website, social media account, and those initial interactions whether they be on the Smile Doctor website (ZMOT) or with a smile team member (FMOT) are critical to helping that guest know that.
We can help answer their questions accurately
Let them know that we enjoy listening to them, then ask questions to assist them in any way we can. Some of our patients that call from all reaches of the country and abroad are floored when we actually help them on the first call.
It is our dental patients' background stories in Springfield, and beyond we’re trying to understand so we ask a lot of questions. This helps the smile team understand what type of dental visit they are seeking.
Zach, What touchpoints are most important in your business?
We have so many unique touchpoints that offer patients moments of delight! I will narrow my focus and talk about a few of the important ones to the practice.
I’ll start with what Dr. Green would emphasize as essential touchpoints. Face-to-face interaction and her ability to spend the appropriate amount of time with a new or existing patient is paramount. I'll give you a hint, usually it’s thirty minute to one hour!
Her Smile Doctor new patient experience has many touchpoints upon your entrance into the building. The very first one you will notice coming into the office is that we have no front desk! We have two identical private consult rooms where patients can discuss anything behind a closed door.
She made the decision to go “frontdeskless” to not only reinforce HIPAA regulations but really give our guests and patients peace of mind that they can relax and sit across from a table and be on an equal setting with any smile team member.
All of Dr. Greens accolades and diplomas are split between these rooms and adorn the walls and 40" led monitors on the wall to review treatment plans or look at her awesome before and after dental transformations.
Rarely do our new patients have to wait, they are met face-to-face in the lounge, greeted by name, and offered any of our amenities before they can even sit in our well-appointed living room. We also provide them and show them our other amenities on a brief tour before starting their first dental visit.
I said it earlier, but we view waiting as the opposite of what health care should be. So the first two patient touchpoints that we put a lot of thought into are interwoven into the new patient experience and returning guests benefit from them too.
Since our guests rarely wait on us, we call the intake area our lounge or living room which was designed to have the intent and provide a relaxed, calm atmosphere.
We play light music, use aromatherapy with an essential oil diffuser, offer high-end on-demand coffee and many other amenities available in the lounge area and also the guest bathroom.
In the same view, new patients can prominently see the 7 LVI training plaques which only about 1,500 dentists in the entire world possess and of course Dr. Green’s medal for graduating #1 in her class. That really sets the stage for a first visit.
We can also provide continuity of care by having our new patient coordinator be right beside the new patient through their entire visit and act as their concierge.
Our dental concierge is with all new patients from beginning to end and available to answer questions and be the patient’s advocate in listening to them and hearing what they want and helping them how to achieve their goals.
If walking through the door isn’t any different it is this interaction or touchpoint that separates us and allows us to provide exceptional, uncommon care right here in Springfield.
Some other touchpoints as we alluded to earlier begin on the phone. Existing patients that call us are addressed by name when they call,
For example: "Hi, Zach, this is Daniel how many I help you today?"
This usually blows people away the first few times, and then they expect it, and it becomes part of a brand touchpoint.
Zach, What are you doing in your business to create unique experiences for your clients?
The new patient visit from my chair should always be both to surprise and delight. I regularly walk up and speak with patients after their visit and ask them how their visit was today? This can sometimes be a surprise conversation, but we really want to connect with our patients.
Is there anything we can do to serve you better or have for you at the next visit?
Did Dr. Green and the team help answer all of your questions today?
May I offer or make you a beverage before you leave?
We are continually trying to better ourselves so like you say, we have this cult following of ranting, raving Smile Doctor fans that talk about their dentist, the smile team and a dental experience that is like none other. That is pretty special for us.
We have a saying that is a mantra here:
"Good is the enemy of great."
I don’t know who said it, but we heard it from a consultant that we worked with over the years. It’s one of those sayings that anyone on the smile team can relate.
We delight by offering seasonal items, lip balms, unique types of floss, customized water bottles, all the way down to the appointment card — you really never know.
We have introduced a few new items in 2019 that will help us continue to provide those moments of delight. I can’t spoil it, but you’ll definitely know when you see one if you're a patient on a rainy day.
We regularly hand out gift cards to local businesses and reward patients that talk about us in the community too. We do a bi-annual giveaway during the year to show our appreciation to those patients who refer their family or friends as new patients to the Smile Doctor practice.
If a patient were to complete a significant procedure like a smile makeover or finish a substantial dental treatment, we would present a bouquet of beautiful flowers or a personalized happy to send them home with that day. Bottom line is we do unexpected things to delight and take care of our patients.
One other one touchpoint that seems so small is that we have been very deliberate about is calling a visit to Smile Doctor a “reservation,” not an “appointment.”
The connotation of having a reservation is very different from making a checkup or appointment.
When you make a reservation, you think about excellent restaurants, boutique hotels, or high-end spas. Those service industries call it a reservation and make it a special event. We aim to make each dental experience at Springfield Smile Doctor not feel like a trip to the dentist. An appointment would be getting the oil changed in your auto, or thoughts of DMV lines come to mind.
Our guests and patients notice this and make comments on it often in an overwhelmingly positive way. It’s all of those little things that add up and build into this entirely exceptional Smile Doctor experience.
Zach, How do you know who your ideal client or customer is?
"It’s anyone looking for the best quality of care they can receive."
That is a really great question and easy for me to answer.
So many times we hear from our patients that my medical doctor and other dentists aren't as thorough as Dr. Green in her exam with six screenings to assess health and dental health.
They say, “I saw the doctor for maybe three minutes, and they were gone to the next room.” That just always baffles us, and we give our patients as much of ourselves as we can.
We typically see two new patients in a day and sometimes just one. But usually one new patient in the morning and one in the afternoon so we can maximize the time they spend with Dr. Green. In our opinion it is an essential piece missing from healthcare, and we really emphasize this to a guest seeking real VIP care.
We are establishing and earning a patient’s trust by building a relationship and letting them know that we use the best materials, best labs, utilize the latest and best technology available. We back it up with the best and most recent dental and health training for the whole team. We use the most cutting-edge innovative techniques and treatment modalities in the 417 area.
Any guest that wants the best quality dental care will receive it and so much more at Smile Doctor. More and more we are finding that these guests are coming from out of state, and some even fly across the country to see her.
It sometimes feels like we’re this hidden gem to some in Springfield and southwest Missouri, but we have treated and are treating patients in every state that borders Missouri as well as those that travel farther recently from Ohio, Mississippi, and beyond.
We have through Dr. Green’s sheer level of training and advanced knowledge about the mouth and body connection, become a destination in the greater Midwest for many seeking answers and treatment through physiologic dentistry.
Zach, How do you get feedback from your clients and how have you implemented that?
I ask them in person usually, or we send a brief survey to ask them how your Smile Doctor experience was? It’s all about communicating and genuinely listening to them and having an authentic conversation.
I learn so much about our patients and guests and as part of my role I naturally seek these conversations because I love talking with people and learning about their stories. I never know where the discussions lead, but I have made a lot of friendships being open and honest.
A lot of times we get unprompted feedback, and I think those are the most rewarding because you really know the patient had a phenomenal experience and is sharing that with the rest of the world, typically in a digital format in Google reviews, Facebook reviews, handwritten notes, home-made treats. We love our patients, and they love us right back.
Sometimes we take their success stories and turn it into a podcast-style interview or long-form blog, and more recently videos.
Zach, Have you been intentional about creating a customer experience or has it come more naturally?
Yes, I think the planning of the new office space really showed us, and we started thinking about every detail and being deliberate with choices and placement.
I think for Dr. Green it definitely comes naturally. She has such a drive to educate her patients with the latest innovative dental techniques, products, and treatment.
That’s where the ‘scientist meets artist’ comes naturally to her. She has such a natural demeanor when she’s with patients.
Zach, What other business have you seen that has an incredible client experience?
We look at high-end spas and boutique hotels for inspiration - but really we attention to all experiences around us. We pick and choose the best parts of any experience to break it down to see if we can add into any of our systems.
Zach, What has been one of your favorite challenges or failures that you have faced and how have you used that to improve, or how has that actually set you up for later success?
Well, Dr. Green would say she doesn’t believe in failure.
I’ll tell one on her, although this isn't about a failure per se. We have to go way back before she knew dentistry would be her calling and she really wanted to be an interior designer.
Now, don’t get me wrong she has an excellent eye for design and paired with my design background we make a great team.
But in the late fall of 2016, we flew to Dallas and met with our dental supply company that was furnishing the majority of our new dental equipment and installation.
We were in their massive showroom all day surrounded by every dental chair, cabinet, gadget, you name it they had it.
It happened to be an off day when no one else was there except our two dental supply representatives and us. After selecting and narrowing equipment and cabinet choices, we were left with maybe two hours to look through many sample and style books to bring it all together before we had to catch our flight back to Springfield.
So picture us in this massive dental showroom outside of Dallas, when the only person there was the front desk receptionist, and we somehow managed in that short time to pull samples, swatches, floors, walls, paint, colors, styles you name it together into this big “style pile.”
A lot of the "pile" flew home with us probably against the dental company’s designers wishes that weren’t there that day, but nonetheless, we quickly realized that we had bitten more than we could chew with our boutique dental redesign. We were determined not to fail in our own design endeavor but realized that we needed help to bring the vision of our beautiful new office design to life.
I was already managing more than a dozen vendors and sourcing other materials for the new office to be the most economical. We agreed that designing it ourselves wasn’t going to work.
Luckily, we knew a few interior designers, and we ended working with Nola and Pat at Decorating Den in Nixa and probably saved both of us many gray and white hairs atop our heads' and left so years on our lives.
Nola and her team did a phenomenal job and took our “style pile” and made sense out of our vision to help us provide the best patient-centered care possible.
We look back on it now almost 2 years in the new location and laugh at how we thought we could do it all. We really could not be happier with how it turned out.
So as a second part, my challenge was moving the entire dental office across town and becoming fully operational while only being down (not seeing patients) for just one week. This really tested my resolve and patience.
When we were moving the office in 2017 and planning everything in late 2016 I also became the vendor orchestrator. I think at one point, I was managing well over 20 vendors and keeping the timeline intact to move into this new beautiful space by early April in 2017.
Working with talented project managers over my career taught me how to keep everything on track.
Our launch day only really changed once, in mid-January the contractor and I moved it back a few weeks, but by in large we were up and fully operational when we said we were going to be.
I didn’t underestimate the amount of work and coordination it would take, but wow it was a lot of work. Looking back now it feels like we’ve been in this new space for years because we took the time to design it how we wanted for maximum efficiency.
The new location is slightly smaller than our other place, but our long-time patients will sometimes comment on the spaciousness.
So pivoting and trusting in others to help us bring the vision together was challenging, especially since Dr. Green and I have such a passion for design. It turned out beautifully, and we couldn't be happier.
Zach, Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
It’s not so much a quote as a mantra. I have had the great pleasure of training and working with trainees or apprentices who have all gone on to be highly successful, and I all told them this:
"NEVER. STOP. LEARNING."
The second you become complacent, or comfortable is when you fall back and lose a step. I have taken this approach in my career.
Now I really enjoy coaching and finding opportunities for our dental team family to always train, learn, or experiment. Sometimes they look at me funny when I come at them with a new idea or approach, but they have come to expect it from me.
Zach, What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Be open to what feels right and trust your gut more. And if something doesn’t feel right, you have the power, knowledge, skill to change it. I’ve always been highly adaptable, but maybe go back and tell my past self that - I’ve been a sponge soaking in all this knowledge and gained valuable experience in my 15 years in the workforce, so maybe I would say
"Hey Dan, you’re going to need a bigger sponge."
Zach, What is one key takeaway from our conversation for our audience to implement regarding client/customer experience?
Treat every single person that calls or walks through the door with kindness and respect. Treat them the way you would want to be treated and listen to them. For us, that means providing an uncommon, exceptional dental experience from the zero moment until they meet Dr. Green.
Zach, Are there any exciting projects or new things you have coming up soon that you would like our listeners to hear about?
Yeah, there are a few.
One is Facial Growth Orthodontics™. Dr. Green utilizes an orthodontic technique called facial development orthodontics or jaw development orthodontics that can correct disharmonies that form during growth and development in the facial structure.
I am going through facial growth treatment right now. It is one of the reasons we’re becoming a highly sought after destination. Not a lot of doctors understand this, but science shows us that we can do amazing things with kids, teenagers, all the way up to adults. Dr. Green has patients in their 50’s, 60’s, and even 70's doing facial growth treatment.
Some of Dr. Green's patients say it's like getting a facelift from a dentist.
It is indeed a life-changing treatment. I can go on about my treatment, but Dr. Green recently posted 20 videos about Facial Growth Orthodontics and answered her top questions about TMJ pain and treatment modalities on our website and Vimeo account.
You can also follow along with my facial growth journey on my blog here.
We also have hired a new team member to serve our patients better. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for her and the Smile Doctor team. We are very very deliberate about making any changes, and we are excited to continue to grow and add unique services for our patients.
Zach, How can people get in contact with the Smile Doctor?
They can find us online at springfieldsmiledoctor.com or thesmile.doctor
Or please call or text the Smile Doctor - A smile team concierge would be happy to help answer your questions and help you make a reservation with Dr. Randi Green. (417) 887-5155
Thank you, Zach!