Welcoming patients into your office is a vital part of keeping your business growing and thriving. When it comes to dental practice management, expanding your customer base is very important! Businesses often attract new patients by advertising special offers or “new patient” discounts. However, what about the customers you already have? We often forget that retaining their business and building relationships with them is just as important. So once a patient, is committed to making you their dental home, how can you build a relationship with them whilst improving patient retention? Here are our top 4 tips:
1. Be on time.
We all know this is easier said than done. Sometimes, it’s out of your control! Maybe a patient was running late or went over their scheduled time, throwing off your entire day. If this happens often, strategize how to fix the problem. Once you’ve identified the delays, develop a written plan of action to help you stay on schedule, which will result in improved wait times. Enlist the help of your staff to make this even more effective! If you know a patient has been waiting for a long time, simply acknowledge this and offer an apology when your patient sits in the chair. They will appreciate your honesty and patient communication.
2. Get to know your patient.
It’s okay to be candid and talk to your patient like they’re an acquaintance. Get to know them on a “professionally personal” level – Ask about their family, kids, hobbies, etc. and on the flip side, tell them about yourself. When you figuratively remove your white coat (not literally because that’s against OSHA guidelines) your patient will in return begin to see you as more than a dentist. You build a connection that allows them to feel relaxed and comfortable in your chair. Once that positive relationship is established, your patient will want to come back.
3. Ask, “Do you have any questions?”
This almost goes without saying but it's important to make sure that your patient know they can ask questions. They think they should know the answer or are too embarrassed to speak up. When you open the floor for conversation, you’re showing a sincere concern for your patient’s health.
4. Provide a token of appreciation.
Maybe you had a really great conversation with a patient or something went terribly wrong with another. In a positive or negative circumstance, don’t let that situation be swept under the rug. Provide a token of appreciation to show your gratitude. If you know them a little more personally, maybe it’s a gift card to their favorite coffee place, and if you don’t, opt for something like a hand-written thank you card. It’s probably not realistic to do this for every patient every time, but make a conscious effort to go out of your way whenever you can.
Building relationships with your patients is more than just improving retention. It’s important to create that bond and increase patient communication so that your patients’ overall experience starts when they walk into the office and doesn’t end when they leave.