Educate, accommodate – and don’t be late!
Louise Beddow looks at five great ways to give your patients the ultimate dental experience.
Your patients’ experience determines how they feel about your practice, and that makes it an important, if not the most important, factor in how successful your practice will be. To ensure you’re delivering a service that meets, and ideally exceeds your patients’ expectations, I have pulled together five great ways to give your patients the ultimate dental experience.
Walk in their shoes
Ever considered becoming a ‘mystery shopper’ in your own practice? First impressions count so make time to sit in the reception area and listen to how patients are greeted on the phone as well as at the door. Look at what literature is available in the waiting room – does it stimulate and educate? How does each clinician ‘meet and greet’ each patient?
Share your insights during a ‘lunch and learn’ and draft a script for the team so they can not only confidently explain treatments in layman’s terms, but also discuss other areas of the business, such as costs and your branded payment plan. Pain-free, minimally invasive dentistry is a ‘pull’ – as is an easy way to invest in oral healthcare – so prep the team to reassure patients that their health and financial interests lie at the heart of your practice. If a potential patient isn’t yet ready to book, offer an opportunity to look around and meet the team or maybe consider an open day for interested parties.
Don’t just be on time, allow more time
We are all time poor these days – the problem in balancing home life with work is a common complaint. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that on average, 16- to 24-year-olds enjoy the same amount of leisure time as people aged 55-64 – a measly six hours per week. Time is of the essence – and nobody wishes to be kept waiting, so do try to meet appointment times.
Indemnity experts suggest the majority of complaints arise from poor communication so, if you are running late, do relay the message back to your next patient in the waiting room – openness is a major positive when it comes to any service or health industry. For those patients struggling to find time to see you during the working week or are phobic, maybe have late-night opening or weekend appointments especially for them where you can allow longer appointments.
Smile, it costs nothing!
You are in the business of creating great smiles, so reflect this in your approach to care – it doesn’t come with a hefty price tag either. As consumers, we all appreciate ‘service with a smile’. Ensuring client satisfaction at the front desk (usually the first encounter patients have with your team) is an easy fix.
A happy experience at the start of any patient journey is widely considered one of the differentiating factors from other practices – taking an average satisfaction level up a notch. It’s well documented that a listening ear, a name remembered and a smile go a long way in retail – and this applies to dentistry too.
Get active – and actively listen
Respond and engage. Answer queries. Actively manage social media accounts – rotate the responsibility if need be – and give potential patients key information above and beyond what they might expect. The internet is a ‘go-to’ source of information for many of us. As a nation, we are also becoming increasingly savvy about our rights as a consumer thanks to this plethora of information at our fingertips, which can make for an increase in the volume of challenges from patients. So make sure that, when patients complain, your team listens and patients are dealt with courteously and promptly. Sometimes your worst critic can become your biggest fan.
Making plans, holding hands
A branded payment plan not only attracts new patients, but also ensures ongoing brand and practice loyalty with existing customers. Whatever your USP, make sure it is reflected in all your literature and products. Everyone loves saving money, so do ensure patients understand the benefits of signing up to your dental plan and, if you haven’t the confidence to talk your patients through the benefits, speak to your dental plan provider whose team should offer key support. Accommodate the needs of your patient and your business will boom.
Providing an excellent journey for your patients, from start to finish, will mean they’ll be happy to come back and will more likely recommend you to their friends and family. That is why it’s vital to get the patient experience right – it helps you build a growing and profitable practice.
DPAS is a specialist provider of practice-branded dental plans for your practice and patients, offering everything the team needs to implement and promote plans effectively. For further information, visit www.dpas.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01747 870 910.