Dental practices pour all their energies into attracting new clients. New patients are essential if you want your practice to grow. But you should not forget the next step in the process i.e. retaining patients. A constant stream of new patients won’t be very useful if they don’t come back. These patients are also less likely to accept treatments that you recommend because they don’t feel a connection with your practice.
Loyal patients are worth their weight in gold and retaining patients is just as important as attracting new ones. Building a long-term relationship with your patients is worth the effort for a few reasons. They’re more likely to accept your treatment recommendations. They provide positive publicity for your clinic, without you even asking for any. Word-of-mouth is marketing at its best and every such patient will tell their friends and family about the great services you offer.
Here are a few tips to convert those new clients into loyal patients who know you care for their oral health.
Focus on Customer Service
Healthcare is different from other types of industries but one thing is constant everywhere – a business should focus on customer service. Your practice is no exception. Everything from your staff members to the chairs in the waiting room should make them feel relaxed and comfortable. Train all your employees to welcome patients with a smile and help them with any problems.
Most people already dislike going to the dentist. So you should focus on making the experience better for them. Make sure to have some coffee, water and even some snacks for patients waiting in the room. Decorate your clinic in soothing colors and have some toys on hand if you treat younger children often.
Respect Their Time
Staying on schedule is very important for dentists. Scheduling issues are inevitable since certain things will be out of your control. No one likes to wait for their appointment, especially if it happens regularly.
If you are running late for your next patient, make sure to apologize and offer alternatives. Would they like to come back or extend the appointment? Have a policy in place for when patients are late – do you reschedule them or see them anyway? How long will you wait before moving on to the next appointment?
The same reasoning applies when patients call your office. Whether they want to make an appointment or have a few questions about their oral health, try not to put them on hold for more than a few minutes.
Touch base with your patients frequently and keep the lines of communication open. Send them reminders before their appointments and email newsletters with oral care tips. If a patient hasn’t come by for regular checkups, send them a note saying you are concerned about their health. Some people prefer phone calls to emails and vice versa. Make a note of their preferences and use other means only if you’re unable to reach them after a few attempts.
Show your patients that you don’t forget them when they leave your office. If a patient has just undergone a major procedure, drop them a card asking how they’re doing. Follow up with aftercare tips and encourage them to make their next appointment as needed.
These strategies will go a long way in creating a connection between your patients and your practice. Understand what your patients like about your practice and strive to improve on them. Examine any weak areas and implement processes to remedy any perceived deficiencies. Loyalty is earned and the process will take some time. Attracting new patients and retaining existing ones go hand in hand for practice stability and success.