Most people think only about the dentist when they’re due for a cleaning or experience tooth sensitivity. Dentists, on the other hand, often think about how they can better their relationships with their patients.
One way to satisfy patients, and even attract new ones, is to improve their overall experiences. Here are a few tips dentists can use to put a smile on patients’ faces and keep them coming back again and again.
1. Offer online scheduling and send appointment reminders
Most routine dental treatment occurs just a few times per year. Even if patients remember to book their next appointment before leaving your practice, they might forget about it as time passes. Each missed appointment could cost your practice hundreds of dollars, but charging fees for missed appointments can cost you patients. Worse still, disgruntled former patients could write negative reviews about your practice online, which impacts your ability to attract new patients.
A better solution is to offer patients the ability to schedule, and reschedule, appointments online. PatientPop research shows that 42% of patients prefer to make appointments on a website or mobile app instead of on the phone. Plus, online scheduling helps reduce work for your front office because they will spend less time fielding phone calls.
To further reduce the likelihood of missed appointments, front office staff can send emails or text message appointment reminders. They can do this manually, or you can invest in a software solution that sends automated reminders.
Above, the waiting area of Dr. Lori Noga's practice, Tranquility Dental Wellness. Read about her practice design here.
2. Update your waiting room
Patients may not choose one dental practice over another because of its waiting room, and you’d be remiss to think the waiting room has no effect on patient experience. The best dental practice waiting rooms are those designed to meet patient needs. If your patient base is primarily comprised of working professionals, for example, your waiting room could be similar to a communal workspace, with free Wi-Fi, a shared table with chairs, charging stations, a mini fridge with bottles of water, and so on. If you’re a pediatric dentist, your waiting room could be one-half play area for kids and one-half relaxation area for parents.
Regardless of your approach, if patients have to wait, make sure they do so enjoyably and without frustration or annoyance.
3. Let patients play their music
Even if you love the music you play in your practice, some of your patients will not. Most people today have access to an entire music library on their phones, so why not let them listen to their favorite artists during their appointments?
Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft already allow customers to control their tunes when they’re en route. You could allow patients to connect to a bluetooth speaker during appointments to project their music. It’s a small gesture to make the dental appointment less stressful and more personalized.
4. Send post-visit feedback surveys
People, particularly younger people, want to feel as though their opinions are being heard. When you send patients post-visit feedback surveys, you give them a place to share their thoughts about your practice, thereby satisfying their desire to share experiences. You also demonstrate that you care to hear what they have to say. Even better, feedback surveys allow you to collect valuable information about your practice out of the public eye.
If you ever make a change at your practice because of patient feedback, be sure to let all of your patients know, especially those who alerted you about the issue in the first place. This further enhances the belief that you truly care about their opinions, which increases overall patient satisfaction.