Keep patients happy and loyal to your dental practice by cultivating a positive experience from the moment they arrive, to booking their next appointment, with these tips.
1. Make Sure Your Front Desk Staff Creates a Great First Impression
What your patients experience during their first contact with your practice -- either on the phone or in-person -- can set the tone for the entire appointment. A bad first impression could lead to a missed appointment or worse, an unhappy patient in the office.
Here's how your front desk staff can make a good first impression:
On the Phone
Answer calls as quickly as possible with a cheerful greeting. Avoid putting patients on hold for longer than a few seconds whenever possible and if an extended wait time cannot be avoided, recognize and apologize for the hold. Be friendly and knowledgeable; if not sure of the answer to a question, let the patient know and commit to personally connecting them with someone who can help.
Make eye contact with patients as soon as they walk in the door. Even if you're on the phone, a smile or nod can let the patient know they've been recognized and will be helped momentarily. Be professional, cheerful, and polite when talking with patients at the front desk.
2. Send Personalized Appointment Reminders
Remind patients of their appointments in a personalized way. Have one of your staff members set aside a short block of time each day to call patients on the next day's schedule. Hearing from a real person prior to their appointment can help patients connect more deeply with your practice before they even arrive.
3. Keep Your Dental Practice Clean and Attractive
It's important that your patients feel like your dental practice is clean and well-organized. This requires a double-pronged approach that goes further than keeping the floor swept and the trash changed, and your patients should be able to immediately sense the effort you put into maintaining your dental office upon entering.
Maintaining the Basics
Your dental office should be clean and well organized. Ask your staff to help keep day-to-day tasks done, and hire a custodial service to take care of deep cleaning tasks like window washing and detailed floor care.
Splurging on Amenities
Consider adding a few amenities to make your patients more comfortable during their appointments. Go beyond a water cooler and offer patients hot tea and coffee. Install a flat-screen in your waiting area to keep patients entertained while waiting and make sure your children's area has toys and books that are clean and in good condition.
4. Don't Keep Your Patients Waiting
Your practice should strive to keep patients waiting as little as possible. Review your patient load and adjust your schedule accordingly; other than in the event of an unforeseen illness or emergency, your office shouldn't be short-staffed. Make sure your team members are well-trained on how to be productive when working with patients and how your office should flow for maximum efficiency.
5. Engage with Patients During Their Appointment
Arguably the most important part of a patient's appointment is the time they spend one-on-one with their dentist. Make a point to engage fully with your patients when you examine or treat them, and avoid charting or multitasking in other ways when speaking with a patient.
Pay attention to body language signals your patients are looking for to determine if you're engaged with them:
- Eye contact
- Facing the patient with your head and torso
- Leaning forward
- Nodding or head tilting
- Using an open posture
- Mirroring their body language
6. Make Notes About Your Patients to Use in Conversation
Your patients want to know that your practice -- and specifically you as their dentist -- care about them beyond what's in their chart. Ask patients how their families are, how work is going, or what new hobbies they're interested in. Make notes in an easy-to-see place in their chart so when the patient returns, you can ask for an update. This helps patients feel as though you remember and care about them.
7. Give Patients a Swag Bag After Their Appointment and Thank Them for Coming
Swag bags are for more than just making sure your patients know what products they should use to maintain their oral health. Gift bags make patients feel extra-special, even when they're filled with everyday dental items.
What to Include in Your Swag Bag
Consider including the following common and uncommon items in your patient gift bags:
- Dental floss or floss picks
- Sample size mouthwash
- Stickers or small toys for pediatric patients
- Brushing timers
- Lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
- Refrigerator magnet with your practice information
- Sugarless gum
- Teeth whitening kit samples
- Patient information brochures
Ready to Grow Your Dental Practice? Download Your Free eBook Today
Growing your dental practice isn't always about making as many new patient appointments as you can -- that's only part of the strategy. You also need to cultivate meaningful relationships with your existing patients. For more tips on how to help grow your patient list, download your copy of our free eBook here.
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Treloar & Heisel, Inc. and its divisions do not offer practice management advice. Please consult a professional concerning this topic.