This article first appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. To receive enlightening and helpful articles for assistants and office managers in this monthly e-newsletter, visit dentistryiq.com/subscribe.
Social Dental, a company created to help dentists promote their practices online, believes that the best dental practices deserve the best patients. If you share this belief, read on.
By definition, the best patients are engaged. They’re not just “shoppers” looking for the lowest price on a one-time procedure; they’re looking to invest in a long-term relationship. These “above-the-bar” patients keep their appointments. They appreciate the care they receive, and they accept and follow through on treatment recommendations. Consequently, these highly engaged patients achieve the best outcomes and highest levels of patient satisfaction. Engaged patients tend to have friends and family members who are like them.
But even the most appreciative patients may not think to recommend your practice until someone asks them who their dentist is. That could take months, or even years! Social Dental can help you quickly harvest the goodwill your practice has worked so hard to create by turning passive patient promoters into active advocates online, where the majority of potential patients search for a dentist.
Audience engagement is, of course, the key to building a successful online presence for your practice. Trust is the currency of the web, and being real and authentic online builds trust. Not surprisingly, the most effective way to create engagement is by sharing real photos of real patients. Authentic patient photos (vs. stock photography or manufactured content) opens a window into your office culture, which helps potential patients feel connected to you before they ever step foot in your office.
Social Dental’s SmartShare™ app makes it easy for your team to capture and share HIPAA-compliant patient photos that celebrate moments of patient success in your office, when patient appreciation is at its peak. SmartShare streamlines the HIPAA permission process. Patients simply provide an electronic signature on an iPad or smartphone, and your staff can immediately post their photo to your practice’s Facebook page, Instagram feed, and website. A compliance process that used to take 10 minutes with old paper-based HIPPA release forms (and who knows how long to post) now takes just 10 seconds with SmartShare.
Social Dental also makes it easy to quickly request Google Reviews from your patients by getting their attention before the distractions of life take over, which results in amazingly high engagement and conversion rates.
In fact, the insights team at Social Dental recently discovered that practices that use SmartShare on a regular basis get three times the reach (number of people who see their posts) on Facebook and four times as many Facebook page likes. As if that weren’t enough, the team also found that practices that use SmartShare to request patient reviews convert 42% of those invitations to actual reviews, compared to just 5% for practices that don’t use Social Dental’s SmartShare app.
Watch this video, featuring DAOMD editor Kyle Summerford, from a practice that has successfully used Social Dental.
The one thing that will make all of this work is for you and your team to genuinely care about your patients. Otherwise, asking to take a photo with a patient may feel forced and cause your team to feel like they’re imposing. When this happens, the process can feel more like a chore than a celebration, and the idea of creating a lasting culture of patient engagement will never take root in your practice.
Edgar Schein, a former professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, defines culture as “a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don’t even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.”
Proactive office managers and dental assistants help staff members become aware of their “way of working” with one another and with patients so that they create an appreciative practice culture. Developing a culture of appreciation is the most important thing you can do to grow your practice, both online and offline. Appreciation is the foundation for building meaningful relationships in every aspect of life, but it’s especially important for dental practices, because they’re often perceived as places of pain rather than places of friendship.
Social Dental has been privileged to develop appreciative relationships of many successful practices across the country. Despite serving very different patient populations, these successful practices share some uncommon characteristics:
1. They’re purpose driven.
2. They treat people, not teeth.
3. They show that they care about their staff members and patients.
4. They celebrate moments of patient success.
5. They turn patients into friends.
Adopting these kinds of engaging attitudes and behaviors can help your practice develop rewarding patient relationships. To learn more about how to do this, Social Dental invites you to participate in our social media marketing certification process. Simply click here to learn more.
We look forward to engaging with you and sharing additional best practices for long-term growth.