Posted on Mar 28, 2016
Image Credit: © Dreamstime.com
Posted on Mar 28, 2016
It’s a big, wide world out there, and patients have a lot of choices when it comes to dental practitioners. Patients should be valued and retained; they are, after all, the core of your dental practice. No one wants to lose patients, but you may be surprised at the little things that dental practitioners do that cause their patients to lose patience and leave them.
Even though population numbers are up and the number of qualifying dentists is in decline, it is not wise to take your patient base for granted. And if you’ve found your retention rates are dropping, you may need to give some thought to what you could be doing wrong.
Here are our top three tips to retain your patients.
Don’t Be Unapproachable and Unaccommodating
First impressions count for a lot, but subsequent impressions are important as well. Your manner as a professional (and a human being) has a direct bearing on your likability. It doesn’t matter how qualified or experienced you might be, if your manner is not likable you can say goodbye to that patient.
Be attentive. Engage in light, casual conversation so your patient feels at ease, and realizes you value their business. Make notes about your conversation so that the next time the patient visits, you can follow up or carry on previous discussions.
Don’t Create a Cold Ambiance in Your Reception Area
Make sure your practice is welcoming and comfortable.
Consider offering arrivals a beverage and direct them to some reading material. Think about playing ambient music to relax them while they wait.
Brief your staff on how to make patients feel welcome in person and over the telephone. This is especially important for the first visit because it creates that vital first impression which, if negatively construed, becomes very difficult to overcome afterward.
Train your staff on how to handle email inquiries professionally and tactfully. If a patient’s first query is about cost, train your staff to encourage the patient to come in for the assessment first, and show him or her that managing the treatment process is important to you.
Don’t Make the Follow Up Consultations the Patient’s Responsibility
Remind your patients about their next appointment. Send text messages or emails to keep in contact. Six months between check-ups is a long time, and long enough for a patient to meet another practitioner.
Introduce referral practitioners and manage the process on the patient’s behalf. Take ownership of your patient, particularly if you need to involve a prosthodontist, dental surgeon, or specialist. Assist with making appointments and explain the technicalities to your patient in layman’s terms. He or she is not a dental expert and may feel overwhelmed without your guidance. This is important because the patient will put his or her trust in you and realize you are looking after his or her best interests.