- November 8, 2017
- Posted by: Kirk Behrendt
- Category: Practice Management
If you’re a licensed dentist, you don’t need to be reminded of the basics of dental work. After all, dental school is serious, sober affair.
The competitive surge in market settings today has many patients searching for more than “just” a dentist.
What does that mean?
Focusing on customer service is quintessential in the dental industry. Pleasantries such as a friendly demeanor, reasonable wait times, helpful team members, and comfortable office space are all minor services that can make a tremendous impression on clientele. Most importantly, cultivate strong relationships with your patients. Doing so can increase new-patient numbers and ensure more loyal patients.
Let’s look at the ways dentists can accomplish this:
Create a Warm Environment
First impressions matter. The atmosphere of your practice has a tremendous influence on both new and current patients. For some, a warm, inviting setting and pleasant administrative team is equally important as the quality of their regular hygiene visit. Ease patient nerves by providing comfortable furniture, soft music, or a neutral program humming on TV. Windows are also a plus, as natural lighting and ventilation create an airy atmosphere.
Define and Publish a Strategy
Top-notch companies always start and follow, a strategy, vision, or philosophy. A dental practice should implement the same. Be it excellent patient care or affordable family courtesies; practice doctrines should be applied externally and internally. For example, a dentist might strive to “consistently provide timely, high-quality care” or “put the patient first.”” If followed, these statements not only gain the respect of clientele but keep the office team continuously striving towards a common goal. By advertising their motto via wall art or brochure, dentists reinforce how much they care and continue to maintain and build patient relations.
Make the Decorations Personal
To create a warm environment outside of the lobby, a dentist can apply personal touches and decor to their office space. Colorful ceiling posters, photos of your family pet, or favorite vacation are ways to add character to your office space while keeping the patient’s mind busy. Your team’s Halloween photo is also a must.
Stay in Touch and Educate
A dentist’s relationship with their patients shouldn’t end when the patient walks out the door. Dentists who strive to stay in contact with patients by sending birthday or holiday cards and checking in after appointments prove their practice is concerned and committed.
Office newsletters are also a great way for an office to educate and communicate with patients.
Content can range from tips for proper homecare to details regarding the upcoming team kickball fundraiser.
Be On Time and Timely
Dentists are busy people. So too, however, are patients. A dentist should strive to respect their time as much as possible. In fact, “on time service” could be the key motivator of your overarching office philosophy to keep the patient happy. Consider making adjustments to balance your schedule. Never make patients wait for personal issues, such as getting lunch. Be reasonable with your schedule, buffering time for breaks that won’t influence appointment times. Consistently being on time will gain a dentist respect, trust, and a widespread reputation. Of course, plan for scheduling discrepancies that are out of your control. If a patient ran late, a hygiene visit took longer than usual, or an emergency has arisen, finish the task at hand and communicate with your admin team and scheduled patients.
A “wait friendly” reception area can improve patient morale if problems do occur. This setting could include an entertainment area with televisions, magazines, and phone charging stations. A variety of free, healthy snacks and beverages are excellent complementary touches as well.
Develop Good Listening Skills
After establishing trust, many patients can develop a warm, personal relationship with their provider. A friendly ear and keen memory stand out, patients will appreciate a dentist who remembers their dog’s name or that their daughter just started college.
As you listen, you can share. However, it’s usually best to given patients the spotlight unless they intentionally shift it to you. Make sure you talk with family members as well. Always wear a smile, starting the meeting with friendly hello, and ending with a warm goodbye.
Connect With Suppliers, Vendors & Others
Apply as many of the above principles to community vendors, suppliers, and other healthcare professionals. A proactive dentist could even create a quarterly newsletter just for business contacts. All of the principles are strategies applicable to business contacts as well as patients. Remember to send holiday cards and thank you cards for referrals. When vendors or suppliers visit the office offer them seat and a refreshment. By cultivating warm, mutually respectful relationships with a range of people and other professionals, a dentist can secure many valuable referrals.
Connect with and Respect Your Patients
By connecting and staying connected with your patients, you can implement personal networking into your business practice. Referrals start with happy patients. Dentists must work hard to cultivate relationships and build a brand that extends beyond “just” dentistry.