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10 ways to stay in touch with your dental patients

June 21, 2017
There are 8,760 hours in a year. You see your dental patients for an average of three of those. How can you help them remember your office the other 8,757 hours of the year? Here are some great ideas.

There are 8,760 hours in a year. You see your dental patients for an average of three of those. How can you help them remember your office the other 8,757 hours of the year? Here are some great ideas.

This article originally appeared in Dental Assisting & Office Manager Digest. Subscribe to the monthly e-newsletter here.

How can you encourage referrals and build relationships with your patients when the average dental patient comes in only two times per year for his or her continuing care hygiene appointment? Think about it this way: you spend two to three hours out of 8,760 hours per year with them. With all of life's distractions and responsibilities, how can you ensure that patients don't forget about you between appointments? Stay in touch. Keep your name in front of them by planting little "reminder seeds."

Here are 10 easy and effective ways you can stay in touch by planting “reminder seeds.”

Social media—Active social media pages are a must. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are excellent ways to engage your patients.
Give away free items imprinted with your office name, website, and phone number to patients at their appointment. These can include toothbrushes, magnets, calendars, pens, and lip balm.
Send to your patients “Thank you for your referral”or special occasion cards. People appreciate getting an old-fashioned, handwritten greeting card via snail mail.
Phone—Pick up the phone and call your patients. Here are a few reasons you may have to call: Continuing care appointment reminders, thank you for your referral, post-op (checking in to see how they're doing), refill reminders (due for refill on whitening gel, toothpaste, electric toothbrush head replacement, and more), and special occasions.
Letters—Send out letters for incomplete treatment, congratulations on completed treatment, welcome to our practice, and thank you for your referral.
Newsletter—Send newsletters to your patients. Include sharable content, dental health tips, recipes, community news, office happenings, dental education, and special offers.
Emails—Email topics can include dental hygiene tips, office happenings, continuing care reminders, and special offers. Be sure to ask and record the email addresses of your patients. Email communication is inexpensive, easy, and effective. Just be sure not to spam your patients with too many emails.
Website—Keep your website fresh, easy-to-navigate, and attractive. Include videos, information and photos about the doctor(s) and team, community events, special offers, the ability to schedule appointments online, FAQs, dental services and education, office hours, directions, social media pages, contact information, and whatever else you feel is important.
Patient appreciation events—Host a fun event for your patients, such as in-office Patient Appreciation Days or open house events. You could also hold out-of-office events, such as roller skating, an indoor bounce and trampoline house, movie theater, public pool, bowling, or an area park. Invite your patients to bring a friend. Be sure to have imprinted giveaways and information about your office available at these events. Encourage all attendees to visit and like your social media pages.

Community involvement—Become involved in local health fairs and charity events or sponsor a local sport team. Here’s a thought: when you and your team participate in community events, consider wearing t-shirts that clearly identify (advertise) your office, and give away a lot of imprinted gifts.

There you have them, 10 ways to keep your name before your dental patients. Doing some or all of these things will help to build lasting relationships with your patients and encourage referrals.

Of course, the very best way to ensure your patients remember to come back and make referrals is to get them talking about their experience after they leave your office. How do you that? By being consistently great. You need to consistently exceed expectations. Make sure that each and every appointment is great, from the initial greeting at arrival, through the appointment, and when you say thank you and goodbye.

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Betty Hayden is the founder of Hayden Consulting. Having over 25 years of experience in the dental field, she started a blog to share that experience with dental offices everywhere by providing free dental marketing and practice management ideas. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.