This article originally appeared in the Principles of Practice Management e-newsletter. Subscribe to this informative twice monthly practice management ENL here.
Pop quiz: What’s harder than getting a new dental patient? Answer: Keeping a new dental patient.
It wasn’t always like this but in today’s new age of dentistry, many practices are finding it much more challenging to retain patients in the face of competition, changing insurance plans, and the effects of the internet. Because of this, it’s imperative that practices employ effective strategies to retain patients so that their patient base remains strong and they always have a healthy influx of new patients.
While it may be harder to retain patients today, it can be done. The key is being intentional. You can’t expect that all patients will remember to make appointments, tell you what they need or know about all the great services you provide. Follow these five strategies to help keep your patients coming back.
Keep them on the schedule
All unscheduled patients are patients your practice may never see again. They may intend to make an appointment, but when the time comes they might forget or see an ad that promotes another practice. Always aim to have 98% of all patients scheduled at all times. How? Your front desk staff should become excellent at encouraging patients to make appointments before they leave, should have an immediate follow-up system for patients who leave without appointments, and should consistently contact overdue patients.
Have outstanding customer service
We now live in a non-relationship area where consumers are looking for great deals, not great friends. However, dentistry is different. Your relationships with patients can be a key factor in retaining them, so you must take customer service to the next level. Greeting patients with energy, running on time, keeping patients informed, showing concern for patients’ comfort, and asking patients for feedback all go to the heart of outstanding customer service. Simply ask yourself every day, what else can we do for our patients?
Create a strong contact program in between appointments
Even when patients are not in your office, you can still have an impact. Reach them through Facebook and email with dental, health, and practice information, as well as phone calls to see how they’re doing.
Thank your patients
Thanking patients for their referrals, their patience when you’re running late, or their loyalty to your practice goes a long way. Making personal calls, sending nice notes, or giving gift cards are simple ways to show your appreciation and make a lasting impression.
Continually promote your brand
Every practice wants to be known for the great experience, services, and technology that it offers. But how will people know if you don’t tell them? Letting patients know about your continuing education, new services, and cutting-edge practice equipment all help to brand your office as a top-tier practice.
Remember, you can have an impact on your patients inside and outside of the office. Be intentional about using all five of these strategies in your practice and you’ll have a powerhouse program to retain patients.