New patients are key when building up a practice from scratch. But keeping those same patients is the real secret to a successful and stable dental clinic. Businesses in many industries have long since figured out the client retention is crucial and is actually much less expensive than attracting new customers. As a dental care provider, your practice is certainly different from other types of services but the core principle of patient retention remains the same.
A patient who trusts you will be more likely to accept recommendations for treatment or follow prescription schedules correctly. They are also much more likely to refer their friends and family to your clinic. So what can you do to keep your patients coming back for multiple visits? The key is to build a long term relationship with your patients. Small actions like a handwritten note or follow up call can make a world of difference when building a loyal patient base.
Add a Personal Touch to Communication
When a new patient makes an appointment, make sure your office calls them at least once before they come in. A thank you note in their mailbox or a follow up call after the visit is the foundation to a great relationship. Make sure to include something personal like a new baby or their garden during the conversation. Show them that you are actually listening to their concerns while they are in your chair. Patients appreciate doctors who take a personal interest, especially in an age where everyone is hidden behind a screen.
Keep Communication Consistent
Some practices maintain excellent communication in the first few months of new patient interactions, only to forget about them when it becomes clear that they will be coming back. Nothing will make your patients disappear faster than being ignored. Next time they see a coupon from another clinic, they’re gone!
Maintain consistent communication throughout the year with your patients. Seasonal greetings in their mail, annual checkup reminders in their inbox and follow up calls will help cement your relationship in their minds. You don’t want your only interaction to be their visits and when they pay for services.
Show your Appreciation when Patients Refer Others
In the world of health care, the best advertising is word of mouth. People trust the recommendations of their friends and family more than any other form of advertising. So when a patient refers someone to your office, make sure you thank them. Offer a discount or coupon for their next visit.
If you have a sufficiently close relationship with them, you can even send flowers or some other token of appreciation. You can be sure that they will mention such interactions when they recommend you to others!
Ensure All Staff are on the Same Page
It’s not just the dentist who determines whether patients come back after their first visit. All your employees should work together for a positive patient experience. Not everyone has experience or knowledge of customer service, so some staff members may need training on the subject. Nevertheless any employee who interacts with patients should present a calm and friendly demeanor. You wouldn’t want to go to a clinic where everyone has a scowl on their face, would you?
These four tips should get you started on patient retention. A patient who comes back after their first visit is worth so much more to you than new clients who only show up once. If you get it right, more of your new patients will go on to become loyal clients who trust you for dental care.