Focusing on your work as a dentist may be more important than worrying about a popularity contest. That said, your dental practice is also a business. And any business needs recurring, and preferably loyal, customers to continue operating and growing. Besides, if you aren’t bringing both new and existing patients back through your practice door, you can’t continue providing the care you’re trained to bring to your patient community. Here are six ways to become everyone’s favorite dental practice.
1. Be Warm and Welcoming
Whether a patient has dental anxiety or not (but especially if they do), your presentation of the right demeanor can make or break their visit. Ensure that your hygienists and associate dentists are also onboard with expectations for customer service and patient experience.
2. Consider Your Clientele
One of the best ways to become everyone’s favorite dental practice? Make the experience feel personalized. But you can only do that if you understand who your patients are. You need to know their demographics, their needs for care, and their preferences around patient experience. Are you tucked away in a family-centric suburb? Or are there tons of retirement communities nearby?
Adjust everything keeping in mind the specific patient demographics you want to attract to your practice. This can include everything from the services you offer and the media you use to market them to the goodies you put in take-home bags and your marketing messaging.
3. Perfect Your Customer Service and Communication Approach
Again, we know dentistry is (and should be) your real focus. But for the patient, the customer service experience matters, like in any other business. Patients want great oral care. However, they also want the process of scheduling and rescheduling appointments to be easy. They want team members to be helpful when they have a question, health concern, cancellation, or billing issue.
Go the extra mile by putting processes in place for every moment where communication is needed. For example, use your blog to create a backlog of educational posts to help patients and answer different common questions. An example would be, “How to Prepare the Night Before a Root Canal.” Then, direct them to that resource when the time comes. You could also produce brochures with this sort of info for in-office reading materials, but blog posts have the added bonus of bringing traffic to your website.
4. Offer Hours that Work Better for Busy Patients
This will depend a lot on your patient demographics. But if many of your clientele includes always-at-work Gen-X and Millennial patients, you might want to consider staying open until 7 p.m. a few days a week, or maintaining limited hours on Saturdays.
When it comes to the busy professional, nothing will make you their favorite dental practice like having the flexibility to not have to use as much of their paid-time-off for healthcare appointments.
5. Utilize Technology to Make Booking a Breeze
Again, if almost your entire patient base consists of retirees, the technology you use for scheduling appointments may not matter as much. However, technology platform choices can be crucial for improving patient experience for younger demographics.
Tech-based improvements, such as allowing patients to book appointments on your website or sending them reminders they can respond to via two-way text, can be game changers for your team to work efficiently. And they’re also great ways to become everyone’s favorite dental practice. Because as much as they may appreciate your friendly team members (see tip #1), patients are busy (like you!), and these types of technological improvements can make various aspects of your practice run more quickly and smoothly.
6. Make Payment Simple and Straightforward
First, we have to say, is there anything less straightforward than insurance?
Unfortunately, one of your patients’ main gripes with a dental visit is probably the thing you don’t control: dealing with payment and insurance.
But what if you could control the payment process, at least a little? You can’t prevent patients from having to negotiate with their insurance companies. What you can provide are alternative options for patients to pay for their care within your office. Here are some must-dos:
- Ensure that your practice can accept all major credit cards, including CareCredit.
- Create in-house financing plans for major procedures.
- Offer a dental membership plan program, wherein patients can pay for their regular care on a subscription basis.
These three factors make it possible for a patient who doesn’t have insurance or who doesn’t want to hassle with insurance companies anymore to pay for their dental care with less stress. Hello, favorite dental practice. Why would they go anywhere else when you support them in great oral and financial health?
Let’s recap ways to become your community’s preferred dental practice:
- Be Warm and Welcoming
- Know Your Clientele
- Perfect Your Customer Service and Communication Approach
- Offer Hours That Work Better for the Busy
- Utilize Technology to Make Booking a Breeze
- Make Payment Simple and Straightforward
Using these six tips, you’ll be on your way to becoming the dental practice known around town and shared via word-of-mouth–and genuinely positive–reviews from patients.