As a result of the Great Recession and slow recovery, many patients have radically reduced their spending on oral care, visiting dental offices less often and rejecting recommendations for any treatment that is not need-based.
As a result, dentists can no longer afford to believe that new patients — as always, the lifeblood of dental practices — will automatically show up and fuel production as they once did. Dentists must develop strategies and systems to bond new patients to the practice from the first moment of contact, and immediately start building a lasting relationship. To accomplish this, doctors and their teams should embrace the concept of the New Patient Experience.
1. The initial new patient call
Every time the phone rings, the front desk coordinator must be prepared to follow a carefully written and rehearsed script for the new patient call. If the caller turns out to be a new patient, the front desk coordinator will have several very important objectives to reach in a brief conversation, including:
• Extend a warm welcome to the practice
• Begin building value and trust for the doctor and team
• Collect patient data and personal information that will help create a strong relationship
• Schedule an appointment within seven days
2. The new patient orientation
While taking care of practical matters during the new patient’s first visit — acquiring patient information not already collected on the phone, explaining policies, reviewing services — front desk staff can also continue the process of building value and trust by:
• Praising the doctor’s credentials and chairside manner
• Highlighting the range and quality of services available
• Pointing out and inviting the patient to take advantage of office amenities
• Showing interest in the patient, asking about family, interests, etc.
3. The new patient exam
When a new patient meets the doctor, scripting helps ensure an excellent first impression. The actual examination should be comprehensive, and the findings presented in layman’s terms. This exam will serve as the foundation for a prioritized, long-term treatment plan. The patient should find the doctor to be highly informative, attentive, and caring.
By bringing new patients into the practice with a unique, thoughtful New Patient Experience, practices can overcome some of the barriers imposed by the new dental economy. They can establish practice-patient relationships that are stronger and long-lasting, as well as more productive.
To learn how to improve your practice and increase production, register for one of Dr. Levin’s one-day or two-day seminars. For details and locations, go to www.levingroup.com/gpseminars.