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5 ways to increase case acceptance and build long-lasting relationships with your dental patients: it’s the little things

Aug. 17, 2016
It's the little things that are important to dental patients in today's competitive environment. They'll remember you for listening, caring, and actually remembering what they want from visit to visit.

It's the little things that are important to dental patients in today's competitive environment. They'll remember you for listening, caring, and actually remembering what they want from visit to visit.

In a world where computers dominate the market and apps replace the human experience, it’s becoming difficult to establish real, authentic relationships based on trust and commitment. Many businesses, including dental practices, rely heavily on the internet to attract patients, and even more so on maintaining their relationship with them.

Consumers are selecting email and text messaging as their preferred method of communication, and appointments are now scheduled with a click of a mouse or iPhone through scheduling sites such as Zoc Doc, making the traditional phone call an extinct way to make contact.

Additionally, many patients are selecting their dentist or doctor based on their website, where they learn about the practice through posted information and by viewing a virtual tour of the office even before stepping foot in the door!

Although these methods appear to be a more convenient and efficient way to select a dentist and schedule a visit, they end up debilitating actual human interaction. This is why we, as dental professionals, have to work harder and smarter to make the new (and existing) patient experience a memorable and profound one. One way to do that is by building a relationship with each and every single patient who walks through the door.

Tapping into the needs, fears, and concerns of patients will create a sense of trust. Trust is essential to all successful relationships, and once you have that, more patients will start saying yes to treatment, will refer their friends, family, and coworkers, and will ultimately stay with you for many years to come.

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Here are five ways you can make it count:

1. Connect—Get to know the person sitting in your chair by finding out how they found you, where they’re from, and what they like to do. This will make them feel comfortable and it will show them that you care about who they are as a person.
2. Ask questions—Investigate the reason why the person came to you. Is it only for a maintenance check, or are they looking to change their smile? Asking patients what their concerns are will allow you to personalize their treatment plan based on their needs. Find out what they want and what they do not want out of their visit.
3. Listen—After asking questions, listen to what patients say. Be open to really hearing about their needs, fears, and oral health goals. Many people have dental phobia accompanied by anxiety. Taking the time to listen and empathize will help alleviate some of the worries as well as provide a safe environment to get the dental work they need.
4. Be flexible—In the dental field, flexibility means that you’re able to provide your patients with convenient dates and times for their appointments, multiple payment plan options, and services that match their expectations.
5. Show appreciation—Showing gratitude comes in many forms. You can provide gratuity such as a gift card to those who refer patients to the office, personally thank your patients for their decision to choose you as their dental provider, or you can offer a complimentary service such as in-office whitening for those completing large treatment cases.

Be mindful that each patient who walks through the door is unique and has specific needs. Thus every encounter should to be assessed and followed through on a case-by-case basis.

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Helen B. Funk has been working as the office manager of Cosmopolitan Dental since its inception in 2006. As the primary patient liaison, Helen's goal is to accommodate the patients in a professional, knowledgeable, and personable manner. Helen is a graduate of Hunter College and attained her bachelor degree in psychology. She is currently enrolled in NYU and is working toward a certificate in leadership and organizational development. She is keen on ensuring that the office runs smoothly from the front desk, and she is also "behind the scenes." In her free time Helen enjoys writing, traveling, yoga, and exploring new restaurants in New York City.