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The Rise of the Machines

The Rise of the Machines
Like me, you may be thinking that the increased use of ‘artificial intelligence’ is a good thing. It’s probably happening more and more in our online transactions than we are even aware. So good news for dental practices then…? Well, perhaps. Who really wants to be answering direct messages on a Sunday afternoon when it can be done for you.

However, and at risk of sounding like an IT and technology laggard, there is a fundamental problem and it’s not the technology itself. It’s not the intention either…want some ‘qualified new patient enquiries?’, blip, we can automate that…target, capture data and get  the appointment booked, it sounds tempting but is it ‘fools gold’, because it certainly splits opinion.

The fundamental problem is that for many people, responding to a human being rather than a script just feels more comfortable, particularly when the ‘conversation’ is about an invasive and intimate clinical procedure rather than booking a table at a restaurant, a taxi or a cinema ticket.

It’s a pretty well trodden path already too. Call centres replacing face to face contact and then face to face contact replacing call centres again. Independent retailers surviving the threat of the corporate that bled the need for human interaction out of the purchase and are now back pedalling by trying to put some personality back with ‘food love stories’. Human beings like interacting with other human beings. Sure we like to do it by staring at small screens because we can nowadays, but then again the brakes are starting to be applied there too. Did you ever expect Facebook would have to start advertising Facebook?

I have seen first hand in some dental practices the acquisition of ‘fools gold’. Busy appointment books driven by purchasing expensive ‘clicks’ but low return rates, low take up, low acceptance of treatment plans and when I say low, I mean 10%. And even worse, those patients turning out to be a nightmare too. The type that were attracted to dentistry being offered as a transaction at the outset, don’t have a relationship with their dentist and because there is no relationship, are more exposed to all sorts of GDC 1.1 and Montgomery related issues.

Let’s face it, if the largest dental corporate in Europe is going backwards then the problem isn’t a lack of marketing spend or capital. It all feels a bit ‘dot com bubble’ to me.

Want to compete in 2018?…be human, not a machine.

 

The image on this blog post is licensed for use under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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