Treat every dental patient like a new patient every time

Dental patients can choose any practice for their treatment, so it's important for you to encourage them to return to your practice. How can you do that?

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Dental teams focus much of their efforts and attention on new patients. This is like when you meet a new friend, you’re excited about getting to know the person and you want to let the person know you value the friendship. If things click, you want the person to know you’d like the relationship to be long-term. But as time goes on and the relationship becomes comfortable, the effort, energy, and enthusiasm invested to impress can decrease.

To retain patients (and friends), our teams must treat every patient like a new patient, every time they visit the practice. In our practice, we want patients to expect that wow experience every single time they visit. We stay in contact with patients between appointments so that they have a reason to continue to choose us as their dental home.

Help patients choose your practice every time

Patients’ decisions to make your practice their dental home is not a one-time event. They make a choice every time they make an appointment. Their choice is determined by the sum of every interaction they’ve had with your team. We’ve found that to be especially true of millennials, a generation driven by reviews and recommendations. If we don’t put in the time and energy to wow them, they’re likely to try something new. They’re not as attached to their dentists or doctors as previous generations. Knowing that patients have a choice in dental practices, you and your team want to do everything you can to ensure that they continue to choose yours.

One of our hygienists who is in her 70s has been serving patients in our practice for more than 40 years. We celebrate her and the fact that patients consistently come in to have her treat them. She’s also a perfect example of what it takes for good patient retention—building and maintaining relationships.

Keep patients up to date

Our practice does a big show and tell with new patients to let them know about all of the technology, services, and great dentistry we provide. However, patients often don’t retain information until it’s relevant to their oral health. For example, we’ve been providing clear aligners for years, yet long-term patients are often surprised when we mention aligners. Why? Because it’s in the timing, and now aligners are relevant to them. Bottom line, if you don’t enthusiastically share with patients what you do, how well you do it, and what makes your practice unique, how will they know about and value your services?

Remember, if you’re out of sight, you’re out of mind

Our practice wants to have more interaction with patients throughout the year, so we’ve been using social media to deliver content and promote fun and engaging contests. We consistently share information with patients on a variety of topics, from how to achieve and maintain their oral health, to breaking down cost barriers by educating them about the availability of the CareCredit credit card.

We’ve held pumpkin decorating contests for Halloween, where the winners received gift certificates for a Thanksgiving meal. Most recently we held a “Floss like a boss” challenge. While social media isn’t for everyone, it’s one way for us to build a relationship through a channel that’s comfortable for many of our patients.

The same thing goes for appointment reminders and follow-up calls. Practices have to build relationships by delivering value between appointments and communicating with patients in the ways they prefer. Some of our patients don’t like texts or emails and prefer phone calls. Others would rather respond to a text message than answer a call or check voicemail.

Whatever your patients prefer, figuring it out and putting in the work to keep them up-to-date and engaged is rewarding, both professionally and personally.

Karrali MontanaKarrali Montana has been in the dental field for almost 15 years. When she’s not greeting patients at the front desk when they enter Seal Beach Dentistry in Seal Beach, California, Karrali enjoys reading, watching her daughter sing in the high school choir, and watching her two boys discover their talents.


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----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Karrali Montana collaborates with CareCredit to develop educational materials for the dental industry. This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit (collectively, “Synchrony”), makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in Treat every patient like a new patient every time are the sole opinions of the author. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.

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