As a dental professional, you know that to grow your practice (and your income) you have to bring in new patients and then keep them coming back. But that’s easier said than done, right? Here I share five ways to grow your dental practice by texting with patients.
Bring in new patients
People are actively searching online for dentists. But what happens when they find your website? Research shows that about 90% of people would rather text your office than call you or fill out a form.1
Click-to-text and SMS chat allow potential patients to text your office number from your website to ask questions and schedule appointments. Texts arrive on your office computer for the front desk staff to handle. These methods have proven to help practices like yours bring in more new patients.
Schedule more appointments
You probably know that texting is great for confirming appointments. It’s also great for scheduling appointments in the first place, and rescheduling them whenever patients need to. Let’s say someone texts you to ask if you accept their insurance. You might reply: “Hi Joe. Yes! We do accept your insurance. Would you like to schedule your appointment? We have a couple of open spots here and here.” Sign it with your office brand.
You can also send a confirmation: “Hi Joe, we’re looking forward to seeing you Tuesday at 2:30! Let us know if something comes up on your end.” If something comes up, the patient can text you back and you can reschedule instead of completely losing the appointment.
Fill last-minute openings
You have a list of patients who are overdue for their appointments, and no matter how hard you work at it, there will always be people who cancel at the last minute. What are you going to do?
Some dentists have found that they’d rather send texts to their list of overdue clients rather than to miss out on a money-making opportunity.
Here’s an example: “Hi Margaret. We had a last-minute opening this afternoon at 4 p.m. It’s been more than six months since your last cleaning, so I thought you might want to take advantage of this opportunity. Let me know. Thanks!”
You can send this to all of your overdue patients at once (even using personal names) and give the opening to the first responder. If multiple people text back and want the same slot, you can book the extras for new times. It’s a win-win and it’s very effective.
Emily Beglin of SelectBraces.com said, “This has by far been one of the most beneficial pieces of software that practices have implemented in the past 10 years. Once a practice begins two-way texting with their patients and prospects, they wonder how they ever conducted business without it.”
Remind patients about payments
Did you know the number one reason that people miss a payment is because they forget?2 You can remedy this almost instantly by texting patients a few days before their balances are due, preferably with a link to pay online. “Just a quick reminder that your balance for (your name here) is due on September 9. You can pay online at (your website link.)” You’ll substantially increase revenue collected with minimal effort. That’s the dream!
Earn more online reviews
Word of mouth is crucial to your business, and 90% of people turn to online reviews to see if they want to work with you.3 When you’ve received more online reviews than your competitors, you’ll earn more new patients and show up higher in online research results.
So, text your patients to ask for reviews on Google, Facebook, or any other platforms that are important to you. Internal reports from Text Request show that patients are 600% more likely to leave a review for your dental practice when you text them, compared to emailing them or reaching them via any other option.
What about HIPAA?
This is a great question. You’ve probably heard that texting is not HIPAA compliant. While there’s no such thing as a completely HIPAA compliant texting service, there are many ways to communicate compliantly through text, including the five ways discussed here. The key thing to remember is that you cannot share personal health information (PHI) through text. SMS messages are not encrypted as their signals travel between cell phone towers, thus the reason you cannot share PHI.
A good text messaging service for your dental practice will permanently record all messages and make them searchable, provide a dashboard that multiple users can work on at the same time, and provide features such as SMS chat, merge messages, auto-responses, landline/VOIP texting, and more. Once you have the tools to do this for you, it’s very easy to start texting with patients so you can improve customer experiences while increasing your revenue.
Kenneth Burke is the director of marketing for Text Request, a business text messaging software company that works with clients across North America. He has been awarded for his work in sales and psychological research and has helped dozens of businesses—from pre-launch startups to billion-dollar companies—achieve their goals. He and his insights have been featured in publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Startup Nation. Burke can be reached at [email protected].