Future shop. Open Grid Scheduler, Creative Commons

Some tips to own the future   By Jonathan Fine. June 28, 2017.

A piece in The Times last week seems worth sharing: 10 things to know about the customers of tomorrow.

It’s from Laura Dennehy, head of trends at Foresight Factory (strapline: own the future). Here are the relevant bits for dentists, in my view, with some thoughts underneath:

“By 2025 full-scale commercial interactions will take place within chat channels and queries will be answered by chatbots, offering tailored advice.” 

Dennehy is talking about the rising use of instant messaging apps like WhatsApp. Nearly two-thirds of millennials (born between the early 80s and early noughties) use them daily and brands are beginning to talk to customers on them. This way of chatting will appeal to dental patients because of the anxiety they feel and their need for clarity on a range of issues before they agree to something big like an implant or orthodontic treatment. Dennehy says this kind of thing will be automated with AI, but you can pre-empt that today with a human agent on the practice inbound comms desk, dividing their time between online queries via your website, email and calls.

Future shop. Open Grid Scheduler, Creative Commons

Future shop. Open Grid Scheduler, Creative Commons

“By 2025 we expect offerings to be tailored not just according to commercial data, but to personal biometric indicators. We predict that one in seven consumers will be using services that tailor their health advice to their DNA.”

Dentistry is going to be in the thick of the biometrics revolution. Data on things like a patient’s saliva and skin type will begin to inform the kind of treatments they are best suited to, and information concerning the natural resilience of their teeth will be crucial when in comes to choosing or opting out of invasive procedures like veneers. The range of biometric data available will grow exponentially, with an inverse relationship to failed treatments. Great news for patients, and a sign that dentists will finally be doing less fillings and more prevention and aesthetics.

“Identity (and the ways we choose to express it) is becoming a commodity: it is more shareable, more visual and more emotional.”

So unfortunately we can expect the nauseating selfie cult to claim even more ground in mainstream culture, which suggests the appeal of cosmetic dentistry will only grow. Dennehy says 40 per cent of young people have taken a selfie in the past week, which can only be feeding the rising appeal of facial aesthetics among millennials.

“From toothbrushes that track brushing to determine your dental plan, to restaurants that blacklist you if you don’t show up, being able to consume in the future may rely on wider metrics than willingness to spend.”

Even if the idea of offering your patient a cash incentive to stick to their oral hygiene regime doesn’t appeal to you, your hygienist is going to be able to help them identify areas where their brushing needs adjusting, so this technology will help you become a better guardian of their oral health.

We anticipate payments becoming so seamless that they completely disappear. Paying in the future might be as easy as Amazon’s Grab and Go store concept: you simply take the items you want out and money is debited from your account with no conventional checkout in sight.”

Not having to watch customers faff about excruciatingly with wallets, purses and handbags will free up time for your receptionists to work on things that add value to the patient experience like serving refreshments to people in the waiting room and helping those on their way out do online reviews before they leave.

Dennehy forgot to mention the impact self driving cars will have on the way we consume. I think it’s likely that by 2025 the idea of spending a significant portion of your income on owning, insuring, servicing and fuelling a vehicle year round will seem slightly mad in the face of the alternative, a quick tap on your phone to order a Google car off the street. For most people that big chunk of money will naturally go on more important, irreplaceable things like their health. And oral health. Have a great week. Best wishes.

JJF | [email protected] | 07860 672727

JJF Coventry 1

“Expect the nauseating selfie cult to claim even more ground in mainstream culture”

Jonathan Fine, MD

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