When polled about the challenges faced in their practices, dentists state patient retention is among their top concern. Effective marketing and a strong web presence attract new patients, but how do you retain those patients once they’ve visited your practice? Without the patient, our mission has no meaning.
Here are 15 tips, implemented in the most successful practices, that solidify patient loyalty, and improve patient retention.
When dental professionals were polled about first impressions, most cited a nice waiting area and a friendly receptionist. But your practice personality is portrayed online, long before patients enter your doors. Make sure your website is updated with current pictures of your caring team, and impressive clinical skills. Your online presence should accurately portray a digital impression of the in-person experience. Keep it engaging and updated regularly with new and fresh content.
For many, dentistry is a personal experience. We all know how good kindness feels. Being received by a welcoming team, will do more than allay fears, it will make your patients feel connected. Scientists say social connection decreases anxiety and leads to higher self esteem and empathy. In turn, our bodies release endorphins that reinforce connectivity on a chemical level.
Be on time
Extended wait times do nothing more than frustrate patients. In fact, within medicine, this is the most frequent complaint. While the unexpected does occur, be realistic in your scheduling to allow things to run smoothly. Overbooking does nothing more than annoy, already anxious patients.
While extended wait times should be avoided, offer a variety of current reading materials and TV, to make wait times more pleasant and less noticeable. Implementing customizable LoopScreen technology, allows you to advertise office promotionals and provide educational content, while keeping the patient entertained.
Be a listener
Listening attentively, makes the patient feel adequately heard. In return, they’ll be open to receiving your treatment recommendations. An understood patient is a satisfied patient, and a happy patient becomes a loyal patient. The end result is a win-win for everyone.
Be a communicator
This goes hand-in-hand with listening. Communicate what you are doing and why. This will reiterate you are addressing the specific patient concern, and reinforce their trust in you as a clinician, and friend.
Offering non-traditional and extended hours, will accommodate patients with busy, unconventional schedules. Consider offering early morning or extended appointment hours, for even one day a week. This will make scheduling more convenient, because they won’t have to request time off from work. This may also give you the edge over other, less-accommodating practices in your area.
In addition, offer payment options. Studies show the number one barrier to dental treatment is cost. Consider removing financial barriers by offering more convenient ways for patients to pay. Presenting multiple third-party financing options and in-house plans, will make dental care attainable for those who may not otherwise be able to pursue treatment.
Be an educator
Utilize every opportunity to educate your patients about the importance of dental care, and their commitment to its success. When patients recognize you are partners in health, they will become more devoted to the process. Nothing reinforces commitment like a partner.
There is nothing more frustrating to patients, than a call rolling to voicemail during regular business hours. If no one answers, especially with dental emergencies, patients will keep scrolling until someone does. Having staff available when patients call, could be the difference between production and unproductive chair time.
When patients leave messages, even on weekends, call back as soon as possible, preferably within the hour. Patients will feel their issue is important to you, further reinforcing their confidence in your care.
Be respectful of patient needs, schedules, and titles. It costs zero dollars to treat others with respect, but the benefit is invaluable. We gain respect when we offer it freely.
Keep up with the latest technology and trends in dentistry. Nowadays patients are anything but typical. They are well read in the latest dental offerings. Stay at the forefront by regularly participating in continuing education that keeps your skills sharp and your team efficient.
Be in touch
Keep patients engaged by staying connected in between appointments via social media outlets. Post engaging content that keeps your patients entertained and coming back for more. Pro tip: It doesn’t have to always be dentistry-related. Did someone in the office get a new puppy or participate in a charity event? Post it! Ask patients what they would like to see from you on Facebook and Instagram.
While our goal is to hit the mark every day, we may occasionally fall short, and that’s okay. Accept patient feedback, and ask what you could have done to make their experience better. You can not fix what you didn’t know what was broken.
If you’re dealing with a negative online review, this is your moment to shine in front of a large audience. Thank them for taking the time to write a review, and make yourself available to discuss it further. You’d be surprised how many onlookers turn into patients, as the result of a negative review, handled professionally.
Look for little ways to make a big impact. Small gestures go a long way in communicating you care. Giving them the opportunity to select their favorite music or offering them a bottle of water or warm blanket, are just a few simple and inexpensive ways to make a positive, lasting impression.
Dental care is more than treating cavities and cleaning teeth. It’s about changing lives, and in some cases, drastically. Caring and compassionate team members are natural advocates for their patients. Remember why you do what you do. Motivational speaker Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.“
Be your authentic self, and you invite the patient to relax and mirror the vision of your dream. Patients who feel this level of trust, will reciprocate with unceasing loyalty.