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Online appointment scheduling: 5 ways to maintain a personal touch

Dec. 15, 2022
Online scheduling has been a great addition to dentistry since the pandemic, but how does your practice offer this convenient service while maintaining a personal touch?

Let’s face it, our patients are just as busy as we are. We live in the era of multi-multi-tasking. Yes, “multi” is in there twice. How many of us can send an email on our phone while texting on our smartwatch and viewing a how-to video on our computer?

Many patients want to be given the autonomy to set appointments at their leisure, but how do we still give those patients the customer service we pride ourselves on? Let’s explore five touchpoints that help deliver efficient and inviting patient care with online scheduling and digital appointment reservations. 

Related reading: 

Is online booking for dentists worth it?

Why you should consider implementing online scheduling in your dental practice

Dental practice scheduling essentials

Don’t offer too many options

Once your practice has signed up with an online scheduling system which integrates with your dental software (e.g., LocalMed and RevenueWell integrate with Eaglesoft), you must decide which appointments will be available for digital appointment reservation. Start with smaller or standard appointments that typically do not deviate from the reserved time, such as new-patient and hygiene appointments. Offering multiple virtual appointment options can confuse patients; did Cindy need two fillings or three? Or was it scaling and root planing? Having some choice allows patients to feel in control of their appointment, work around their schedules, and it lessens time spent on the phone.

Display photos of the team

Your online scheduling patients want to know who they’ll be seeing. Provider and team photos added to the appointment types in your online scheduling system gives patients the opportunity to see a friendly face and encourages personal connection. 

Make booking easy

Have you ever been on a website and it takes many clicks and pages until you get where you need to go? Make it easy for patients to book these appointments by having a branded button on your homepage that says “Reserve An Appointment” or “Schedule A Cleaning.” Add it to your recall texts and emails: “Hi Cindy! Your hygienist is looking forward to seeing you next month. You can reserve an appointment online here (insert appointment link)!” Patients will be able to make appointments quickly and easily, increasing your happy patient base.

Provide personal confirmation

When you receive notification that a virtual appointment has been reserved, it’s time to reach out to that patient. Utilize the CAT method—call and text. First, call the patient to confirm you received their appointment request, follow up if they left any memos when reserving the appointment, and let them know you look forward to seeing them. If they don’t answer, don’t leave a message, send a personal confirmation text.

Example for an existing patient: “Hi Cindy! It’s Savanah at Dental Practice. We received your appointment request and I have reserved your time with your hygienist. We look forward to seeing you on September 9th at 8 AM!”

Example for a new patient: “Hi Cindy! It’s Savanah at Dental Practice. On behalf of our entire team, welcome to Dental Practice. You will receive a link to your new-patient paperwork. Feel free to text or call with any questions. We look forward to meeting you on September 9th at 8 AM!”

Request feedback

Asking for feedback from your patients’ experience with digital appointment reservation not only helps improve your efficiency with online scheduling, but it lets patients know they’re not just an appointment. It makes them feel involved and heard.

Example: “Hi Cindy! I hope we met your expectations today during your visit. I see that you reserved your appointment online. What did you think of that process?”

These touchpoints can make a positive impact in the online scheduling experience. Now that patients have more opportunities to reserve appointments outside of normal business hours, dental offices need to marry personalized experiences with the instant gratification the digital world offers. These simple tips will help you create a solid and successful system that will deliver excellent patient experience from the very first click of the mouse.