HBI Awards 2018: Building a trusted brand in B2C health care services

Clove Dental is India’s largest dental chain of 218 clinics spread across 12 states.

With a lack of awareness, availability and affordability of dental care in India, Clove has built its brand to educate through community outreach, introduce affordable prices and create its own dental insurance scheme. It’s outreach programs and corporate dental health offering have helped Clove grow organically from 5 clinics in 2012 to 218 in 2018. It claims footfall has grown by 300% in the last two years with repeat footfall of over 40% on average.

Full application

1. Briefly describe the organisation giving number of facilities, staff, revenue numbers.
Clove Dental is India’s largest dental chain of 218 clinics spread across 12 states, offering the entire gamut of oral healthcare services. Clove leverages best-in-class equipment and utilizes the latest pain-management technology to provide affordable healthcare of the highest quality. We adhere to the highest standards of clinic safety and hygiene, patient service and recruiting, with a constant focus on ethics and transparency. Clove clinics treat over 30,000 patients monthly and have an active patient list of more than half a million patients.
Our 600 highly qualified dentists (65% of whom have advanced medical degrees and 70% are female doctors) adhere to highest standards for hygiene and use the most advanced dental technology and consumables, procured from the world’s best suppliers, to ensure the highest quality of care. Our priority towards infrastructure, integrity and training of doctors has established Clove Dental as a preferred and trusted dental network.
We have also entered a major expansion phase that will grow the network to 600 clinics in next 3-4 years. Year on year our revenue has been growing at more than 200% since 2012. 90% of Indians suffer from oral and gum diseases due to lack of awareness, or importance paid to dental hygiene. This makes India viable for a change in lifestyle and healthcare where dental treatment becomes preventive rather than pain-induced. It is well documented that there is an association of oral health with various systemic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders, pregnancy, and its impact on quality of life. Most of these highly prevalent oral diseases are largely preventable and can be reduced through various health promotion and preventive measures.
Our goal is to educate, motivate, and promote oral health in diverse populations, and induce the need to maintain oral hygiene.
2. Please describe what steps the nominated organisation carried through in the best building of a brand. These are likely to include market research, changes to services, the communication of brand values and the measurement of brand impact.
Dental Care in India has traditionally been devoid of quality and standards. 90% of Indians suffer from dental and gum disease due to acute lack of patient awareness. Costs for setting up a dental clinic in India are too high because of which the quality is poor and highly compromised. There is no Government funding in India like the NHS in UK, as a result of which India is lacking behind in the latest equipment & technology. There has also been an acute lack of awareness among patients about safety, hygiene and technology protocols. We have diligently pursued a rigorous approach to brand building – with ethics, quality, and patient satisfaction forming the core of our philosophy, and practice. Our actions have also been guided by the conviction that patients are our best brand ambassadors and in the process of building of the brand, they are the first and last word. Clove dental is changing the landscape of the Dental Industry in India.
Our three key areas which distinguish us from any other oral healthcare provider and have helped us grow are Infrastructure, Integrity and Training. Unlike other clinics where infrastructure is poor due to large costs involved in setting up a chain of dental clinics, Clove Dental has deployed and invested large sums of capital in infrastructure to set up state-of-art clinics and deliver ethical and transparent healthcare using latest equipment and technology. We value our patient’s safety and follow a stringent 4-step sterilization protocol to curtail repercussion of unhygienic equipment and environment which leads to diseases like Hepatitis B and HIV.
At Clove, all doctors are trained from the grass-root level- helping them face various challenges, to provide the best service to our patients.
Core Values – At Clove, our core values are Care, Respect, Integrity and Trust. Patients are attracted to our clinics through effective communication via various channels combined with consistent positive experiences at the clinics. Through a series of communication tools and using diligent messaging strategy, we effectively communicate our philosophy and practices, which include:
1.A) Patient-centric approach: At Clove, our patients and their needs are of paramount importance and we have always striven to be the premier one-stop destination for all dental needs, starting from minor procedures like filling to complicated ones like oral surgeries or all on four Implant procedures. As against traditional set ups – our clinics maintain an environment of warmth and care, where qualified doctors are the first point-of-contact for patients.
We have a patient-centric approach where we deliver the highest standard of service including safety and hygiene to ensure patient satisfaction, making patient feedback the principal determinant of the service delivered. We represent a new standard in dental care – a standard that emphasizes expertise, quality, convenience and transparency. We also have centralized patient records which are accessible from any Clove clinic pan-India.
1.B) Safety Guidelines – We have taken critical steps to guarantee excellence in administered services. Each Clove clinic has a highly visible sterilization room, built and maintained according to strict clinical guidelines – equipped with advanced, FDA and CE-approved sterilization equipment. The guidelines followed in sterilization room are those established by the US Center for Disease Control and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
1.C) Ethics and Transparency – Clove doctors are continually trained in clinical best practices and up-to-the-minute advances, so that patients get the best care available without compromise. We aim 100% transparency and provide treatment options to patients, so that they can actively participate in their dental care. We also practice a zero extraction policy in which every effort is made to preserve the tooth, rather than extract it. Our stress on the interception of the disease process at the earliest possible stage enables the preservation of the affected tooth.
Our employees and vendors adhere to a policy of zero tolerance for unethical business behavior. We also follow international financial accounting & reporting standards, ensuring 100% financial compliance.
1.D) Pricing – In India, the major perception of healthcare in service industry invites speculation as being money-making factory rather than being perceived as a care provider. Clove’s foremost goal is to inculcate a behavior in maintenance of oral hygiene and care. To support the same, our pricing is set at an affordable rate to reach out to maximum number of people and ensure high-quality oral healthcare.
1.E) Dental Insurance – As opposed to western countries where primary healthcare is paid for by the government or insurance companies – few Indian citizens have health insurance, let alone dental insurance. These services are entirely paid by the patients.
To rectify this, Clove Dental has aligned tie-ups with insurance companies wherein dental insurance is included along with general health insurance in the form of vouchers and coupons to be redeemed anytime in a year. We have maintained the quality of service, technology and hygiene to ensure patient loyalty and repeated consumer behavior.

1.F) Four-step Sterilization process – At Clove Dental, we assign utmost importance to clinical hygiene and safety. The highest levels of asepsis, sterilization and disinfection are maintained in all clinics at all times to ensure patient health. We follow a strict four-step sterilization protocol to guarantee that every instrument and surface that comes into contact with the patient is thoroughly sterilized, before the next patient consults. We also conduct regular internal audits in every clinic to ensure that sterilization protocols are adhered to, and that any deviations from protocol are rectified immediately. Proudly, we believe we are also the ONLY oral healthcare provider that follows this protocol.1.G) Quality & Training – Our Quality Team comprises dentists who have a vast experience in both dentistry as well as administration, who firmly believe that – Quality is not an act, it is a habit. For this we have an integrated quality team with highly qualified dentists who give surprise visits to the clinics for bi-monthly audit check. Clove Dental is the ONLY dental chain in the country to have a dedicated Quality Department. To ensure clinical proficiency, Clove’s dental surgeons participate in a multi-level training program modelled on Six Sigma Training. They also receive mentoring from some of the best minds in the International Dental Industry. We conduct weekly, monthly & quarterly training to enhance the skills of the doctors. Clove Dentists are experienced in the latest treatment modules and best practices, and can provide patients with the treatment options that suit them best. They are trained in pain-management techniques, and in techniques that reduce patient stress- thus giving patients’ quality experience and customer service which are directly linked to client retention.

1.G) Community Outreach – We have extended committed services to underserved communities through Clove Dental Heritage, an entity that unites Clove’s research, training and community services under one roof. Since January 2014, we have conducted many dental programs for underprivileged adults and children. We have also adopted a number of Delhi NCR Schools for underprivileged children including Happy School and Mother Teresa School for Disabled. Our Community Dental Outreach Programs (CDOP) are meant to generate evidence-based data to benefit the dental community and also India’s public health infrastructure.

The initiative includes programs on oral health education, dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications and restorative dental care for school children. Clove Dental Heritage was inaugurated by former President of India, Late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, an inspiring, trusted and compassionate leader. We also ensure that Clove Dental environment extends well beyond the confines of our clinics. Clove has two fully equipped mobile clinics to deliver basic dental care to the elderly and infirm in their own homes, and also to underprivileged communities that lack access to dental care and the means to pay for it. We also have a clinic at Red Cross hospital where we give the treatment at extremely low cost.

2. Market Research & Survey – Visit to a dentist has often been the last on the healthcare priorities for majority of Indians and this is part of a cultural milieu. We conduct extensive and continuous on-ground research across various spectrums to enhance the quality of services provided. We also conduct third party research to keep ourselves equipped with emerging trends. Our existing patient data base and our on-going dental programs in schools, RWAs and clinics help collate data which is analyzed to make our services more patient-centric. We perpetually conduct formalized research in India to deliver continuous and qualitative patient care.

We also conducted a research in North India on school children between 2013-2016 (sample size 55,000+) which reaffirmed the largely socially held belief systems where there was skepticism about dentistry, oral care figured very low in people’s healthcare priorities. 89% children were diagnosed with dental problems, who largely required treatment for Fillings (34%), Scaling and Polishing (34%), Braces (11%), Fluoride treatment (6.5%) and RCT (4.7%). Based on the findings, we took the initiative to educate the parents of school children so that timely precautions can be taken for their kids’ dental care.

3. Communication Strategy – The startling gaps in terms of people’s awareness – such as oral hygiene could trigger a staggering 40 kinds of diseases – and willingness to accept it were eye-openers. We knew we had to go all-out, and adopt what we called KNICE model – which meant Knowledge, Information, Communication & Education. While our knowledge repository and information pool were adequate, there was a compelling need to communicate the same seamlessly to educate and sensitize audiences. We did that with a 360 degrees approach.

We have consistently deployed a mix of mass media and localized activities to ensure we connect chords with consumers in all possible set up. While we use a mix of tools to disseminate our message, digital and localized activities are our target tools to sensitize the masses on various oral diseases across different geographies. Mass media communication is designed to capture mindshare, our localized interventions are woven around enhancing patient connect, ease and trigger engagements in a more personalized format ~ in their housing societies, nearby markets, camps in collaboration with Residents’ Welfare Societies, camps in schools and even in parks.

Our doctors reach out to existing and potential consumers in the most friendly manner and try and sensitize patients on the arts and science of dentistry and why it should be integral to our health needs. We also regularly send out mailers and information materials highlighting our quality, capabilities and commitment to adhere to highest degree of ethics and transparency.

Customer feedback is the soul of our marketing activities and we try and capture customers at various touchpoint and solicit feedback – either when she is browsing through her email, or when she walks into a Clove clinic, attends an awareness program or during the RWA meets. The feedback thus gained helps us to tailor our communication and improve execution.

All our localized efforts have resulted in reinforcing patients’ faith in us and ensuring that our patients are also our brand ambassadors. Our highest quality of in-clinic experience is something that we have always been proud of, and glad that our patients have articulated this in their circumference of influence which ensures reinforcing of brand Clove. Our mass media communication (print, OOH, radio) is used to leverage our localized efforts in community outreach, sensitize our stakeholders on lack of awareness on oral healthcare and therefore drive repeated incoming patients. These activities are sought to reach patients not only during critical pain or repercussion of oral diseases, but to consistently interact with consumers using appropriate push-pull marketing strategies.

At Clove Dental clinics, our doctors undergo a dedicated training program where they are trained to explain the diagnosis and treatment options to patients in non-medical terms, which makes communication more patient-friendly and easy to understand.

We have also witnessed a significant increase in our patient base, while also seeing sharp growth in the number of patients enrolling for preventive care membership program. We offer Membership Plans (bronze, silver, gold and platinum) for families, couples and individuals. These plans offer unlimited consultations, X-rays and cashback on many dental procedures.

5. Corporate Dental Health Program – To ensure steady flow of consumers, we have designed a robust plan of corporate engagements and our marketing team has established tie-ups with corporates across telecom, manufacturing, banking & insurance, e-commerce and retail segments. We have constructed year-long membership plans for our patients with financing options with banks, to establish ourselves as an affordable and accessible network of dental clinics. The corporate dental health program provides group discounts to the members. The main aim of the program is to promote dental health by means of dental education, dental assessment and dental healthcare delivery facilities.

6. Market Share – Our entry has led to massive disruptions in this rather unregulated market and one of the spinoffs has been not only enhanced awareness among patients but also a competitive pressure on neighborhood clinics to upgrade their quality and services. That we were embraced gleefully is borne out by our rapidly expanding footprint records – from 5 clinics in 2012 to 200 Clinic in December 2017. Our organic business model has resulted in a growth by almost 10 times in last 5 years. We can proudly say that we are the Largest Dental Chain in India. second largest dental chain in the country is half the size of Clove Dental with only 100 clinics. We added more clinics in 2017 than all clinics of 2nd largest dental chain in India (We grew from 108 clinics in January 2017 to 215 clinics in January 2018). We more than doubled our clinics this year- we added more clinics in one year versus previous 5 years.

We do not follow the franchise model- all are clinics are built from scratch, since we believe in complete control and standardization of clinics for uncompromised quality of service. At Clove, we have a comprehensive strategy in place which has helped us design Recruitment & Training function, deploy capital in infrastructure to develop state of the art clinics and develop tools for ethics and quality reviews. We work with global suppliers to acquire world-class equipment at group discounts. Our robust and sustainable high-end clinics have led Clove to become India’s largest, fastest growing and only Indian Member of Royal Society Medicine UK.

3. When were the brand changes launched?
Month : October
Year : 2012

4. What has been the impact of the change?
Our first clinic was launched in August 2011 in New Delhi, while the Clove brand was launched in October 2012. Keeping in view the sharp focus that we had on enabling best customer experience and highest standards of quality and protocols, we introduced a world-class clinic with state of the art infrastructure in October 2012 with soothing ambience & courteous doctors to ease out any psychosomatic anxiety for the patient thus making the visit to a dentist a pleasurable experience. Our conviction got a massive boost when in 2014 we earned the Certificate of Membership from The Royal Society of Medicine, UK.

We have consistently registered a growth in patients’ footfall and over the years we have worked with over 500,000+ patients. We have taken it upon ourselves to educate the masses on their oral health and our consumer connect programs have earned for us the requisite change in mindshare of people, as amplified by enhanced awareness. Our affordable pricing policy has also influenced the lower middle class section of the society and compelled them to avail oral healthcare services and maintain dental hygiene. The growth in patients has also fueled our appetite for expansion and we have consistently grown.

One of the key success of our branding intervention has been the high-degree of pull it has created for doctors – we have consistently managed to take on our board very bright and competent doctors, expanding the team along with the clinics. We have grown from 20 doctors in 2012 to 600 doctors in 2017.

A heartening feature of our program has been that our patients come back to us. Our footfall has grown by 300% over last 2 years. We have repeat footfall of over 40% on an average and this has gone as high as 60% in some clinics.

The consistent growth in number of patients is also a testimony to the acceptance and approval of the brand Clove. Our patients come from diverse demographics and class, from very urban, upwardly mobile to a middle class conscious citizen, and that’s one certain indication of our mindshare penetration across all target segments. Our corporate clients too have registered a consistent growth.

Our Dental Healthline Centre (DHC), which is managed by doctors, have consistently recorded an impressive growth in the number of calls per month – from managing an average of 2000 calls per month in 2014 to 58,000 calls per month in 2017.

5. How has this impact been measured?
Patient satisfaction: We have witnessed a consistent increase in patient satisfaction, which we measure through a well-designed feedback strategy. We have a dedicated Patient Care Division which manages the process of collecting, analyzing and acting on each feedback. Every patient at Clove Dental clinic is requested to submit a feedback form which is adequately evaluated.

The impact of our brand-building and marketing strategies can also be measured by the number of increase in the patient since 2011 when we set up our first clinic (as demonstrated above).

Patient retention has been another hallmark of Clove and we boast of it proudly. Approximately 50% of our patients come back to Clove clinics for follow-ups and regular check-ups.

Dental Community Acceptance: We have been readily accepted by the Dental Community and have successfully attracted the best dentists across the country and are recognized by Dental Council of India.

Financial Performance & Shareholder Validation: We have also been performing well financially with consistent investment from shareholders. Within 5 years, we have gained special funding at multiple rounds. We have been receiving growing recognition in India across various business and rural communities.

Recognition in International & Business Communities: Our brand value can also be measured by other laterals where prominent and influential leaders have been involved with Clove Dental. We are proud to say that former president of India, late Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam inaugurated our Clove Dental Heritage Clinic. We have also attracted the Canadian High Commissioner and former President of Royal Society of Medicine, UK-Mr B Sethia at Clove Leadership Conclaves.

6. Additional documentation
Awards and recognition
Brochure
Clove in Media
We would welcome your thoughts on this story. Email your views to Zhasmina Simeonova or call 0207 183 3779.