Every dentist understands that retaining patients is cheaper than finding new ones. What you could be unaware of is that this claim is backed up by research. An article by the Harvard business review states that the cost of getting new a patient is between five and 25 times costlier than retaining a current client. Numbers don’t lie, and these statistics prove that keeping your existing patient is a massive investment with significant impacts in the long run.
Due to financial constraints, dental care is becoming an option for most Americans. So what does this mean for dentists? It implies that a dentist must work harder than before to maintain his or her patients. Luckily, there is a lot that dental practitioners can do to ensure that they keep their old clients and get some referrals too.
1. Leave a good impression during the first call
The first step is to answer phone calls, which is even more critical if you have invested in intensive marketing. In case you have high rates of missed calls, it is time you consider hiring front office personnel to cover you when you are busy attending to patients.
The fact that a potential client has called you means that they are considering coming to your office. When the receptionist picks up the call, they should sound professional and friendly. The caller ought to feel convinced to the extent that he or she visits your clinic. List the commonly asked questions such as the location, insurance lists and general information about the services so that you do not take too long to answer.
2. Create a “preflight” guide for new patients
Once you are done making a good impression during the first call, the next step is to help them get to your office. How quickly can a client to locate your office and find parking? Whether your office is on the front side of the street or in the basement of a building, giving new patients directions is a good way of improving your retention.
Are patients aware of the paperwork they require? Are there any prior arrangements that the insurance provider needs? Give the customer an estimate of the time they will spend at the clinic. Most of this information should be on your website. That way, potential clients will feel that you value their time and are likely to become long-term customers.
3. Make appointment scheduling hustle free
In today’s technologically evolved world, all a patient wants to do is pick up their phones and book an appointment with their dentist in a few minutes. Besides, you do not expect people to knock at your door asking that you clean their teeth.
Work on the appointment-booking process and make it as comfortable and convenient as possible. Start by making your website mobile friendly so that your clients do not have to go through the hustle of logging to a computer to book the appointment. Also, provide several options such as booking via a phone call, message, email, and on your website.
4. Train the staff to be welcoming and friendly
You would not want to make your patients feel that they can get the service anywhere else. That is why your team should be warm to the patient the moment they step into the clinic. A client should feel like they are family when they come to practice. Ask the receptionist to greet patients and have a smiling face.
Let them know that they can use the amenities like the water and the washroom. How about leaving unused toothbrushes and past in the bathroom for your patients? It is such a small incentive but can quickly increase your customer retention. The patients’ feelings during the time they are in the clinic will determine whether they will return or not.
5. Decorate the lobby
Although you should work on reducing the number of patients in the lobby, you should make the few minutes they have to wait enjoyable. Does the patient feel comfortable in the office? Are there enough seats for them to use? Provide interesting material such as an array of magazines for them to peruse while they are seated. You can also include some promotional materials or pamphlets detailing your services. A cute photo of the dentist’s family displayed on the table will spruce up the waiting area.
If you are a family or pediatrician doctor, ensure that the lobby is accommodative to kids. Creating a dedicated play area is a good idea, but if you do not have sufficient space, a few toys and a basket of books will do.
6. The nose knows
Patient retention is all about paying attention to even the smallest of the details. Beware of odors that patients may find disturbing. Too much antiseptic or cologne may put off patients. Also, avoid bringing food to the office because your clients might not fancy the smell of your leftover salmon. Sensitize your staff members also to be cautious of the scents in the clinic.
7. Create trust and foster relationships with clients
Once it’s time to leave the lobby and enter the dentist’s office, make sure that your staff escorts them. The staff member should speak reassuringly to the patient. Ask them to introduce the patient to the hygienist or the dentist. You should have a name tag so that the client can refer to you by name.
Before performing any procedure, tell the patient what you will be doing next. Diving into a client’s mouth without a proper explanation might give them the impression that you are invading their privacy. Empower your customers with information regarding the procedure so that they feel less anxious and more in control of their health.
8. Provide value
By the moment the patient is leaving your office, he or she should be happy with the procedure. The client should be pleased with how you treat them and how their teeth look after you are done. Ask the patient questions and listen keenly to their answers. Also, take time to answer their questions diligently and without rushing.
9. Improve payment solutions
Patients want to be in control of both their health and finances. For a dental practice, making sure that you provide several billing options is a critical factor in enhancing patient retention. Most clients will expect you to have a debit card, credit card, and bank card payment options. You can go a step ahead and offer absolute medical billing and mobile payments as options. It will not only boost satisfaction but also ease revenue collection.
10.Send the patient home with some goodies
Most patients who seek dental services expect to leave there with a new toothbrush, toothpaste or floss. Surprise your clients with an extra item such as a bag, lip balm, mint or a good pen. Make sure that all the things have your logo so that they can help market your services too. The gifts would make the patient feel loved and special.
11.Stay in touch
If you want to retain your clients, it is vital for you not to lose touch. Send them a brief survey of the quality of services at the clinic via email. This is a beautiful opportunity for the client to give feedback, which could be negative or positive. Whichever way, let the patient know that you appreciate their time and that you will look into their concerns. Make sure you address their complaints and thank them for their compliments.
Dental care is a highly personal service. Understand that your patients have lots of options with regards to the dentists they can consult. So, the amount of attention you offer will determine whether you retain customers or not. Automation is one of the ways of creating a personal touch with clients. Send them birthday messages and appointment reminders. Let them know that they are not merely part of the statistics but that you value their time.
13.Consider having a customer loyalty program
Rewarding your long-term clients will entice them to seek your services for an even longer time. Loyalty programs serve many purposes such as giving incentives to customers to make more purchases. They also ensure that existing customers feel valued. An ideal reward would be a free check-up. You can also give the patient an extra service besides what they are paying for, such as cleaning their teeth after teeth filling.
Improving customer retention is not something that happens overnight. You ought to recognize that what will work for one client may not work for the others. Work on an individualized plan for your clients and make them as comfortable as you can. You can try many tactics until you find what is working well for you. Your primary goal should be to offer impeccable customer service while building relationships with your existing client.