By Sharyn Weiss, Pride Consultant
Your new patient is in the chair. You may think, “Great! My marketing is now over. I can relax and do dentistry.” However, this is short-term thinking. In actuality, the new patient exam provides an optimal opportunity to reinforce your relationship with the patient, educate the patient about the service you offer, and ask the patient for a referral.
Here are four ways you can cement your marketing relationship with patients, during your exam.
- Take blood pressure — You should get a baseline reading of all of your new patients as a matter of course. Patients who have not seen their general practitioner in years might be surprised to learn there is a problem, and you certainly want to know this before you do dentistry. Taking blood pressure also has the added benefit of communicating that this is a real medical appointment. Once you get a reading, write it down on a business card and give it to the patient. You have now created a reason for the patient to hold onto your card. It will be available when the patient recommends your practice to another person.
- Take a baseline reading of the patient’s tooth shade — Your dental assistant can do this before you enter the room. Give the patient a mirror and a tooth shade guide. Working together, determine the patient’s current shade. This should be an interactive experience that engages the patient. Then the dental assistant should say, “Have you ever considered whitening or brightening your smile? Because if so, I see you at this shade. Would this be something you would like to talk to the dentist about?” If you receive an affirmative, then when the dentist walks into the room, this should be part of the hand-off from the dental assistant.
- Ask for referral/online testimonial — You might think that it’s too soon to ask for a referral or testimonial, but actually patients are more receptive to talking about you after they’ve had a great experience and before you have caused them any discomfort. After all, you’re a new person in their lives, and they will naturally want to tell others about you if you and your team made a good impression. At the end of the exam, ask the patient for feedback. You can simply ask, “How was this experience for you?” Assuming you get a positive response, you can say, “It was my pleasure meeting you today. I’m so glad you’ve joined our dental family. If you run into friends or family who are also looking for a new dental home, I hope you’ll recommend us.” Then note in the patient’s records that you asked for a referral.
- Send a thank you card/email — Within a week of the patient’s visit send him or her a handwritten thank you card that expresses your pleasure in meeting them. The card should also invite the patient to become part of your dental community by joining you on Facebook. A “like” on Facebook is invaluable and allows you to connect to your patients all year long.
Marketing is the continued opportunity to bond with patients. The new patient process is a crucial event in the lifecycle of your patient, and it provides you with a vital opportunity to extend your relationship.
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