Owning a dental practice is no easy task. Although you excel at providing your patients with superior oral health care, it’s easy to become so caught up in the day-to-day operations that you forget about the other vital element of a successful dental practice: an exceptional patient experience.
The fact is, the way you manage your dental office leaves lasting impressions on your patients and significantly impacts your retention rates. It’s imperative that you remain organized, stay on top of best practices, and learn how to run a dental practice with patients at heart.
Here are 8 tips to help you improve your dentist-to-patient experience:
1. What makes your practice unique?
All successful dental marketing campaigns share 10 consistent components, but in order to truly establish your practice as the leading oral health care provider in your area, you must also identify, market, and protect your unique competitive advantages. Whether you offer an expansive array of oral health services or emphasize a certain specialty, your distinct perspective has the power to attract and retain a high volume of patients.
To make the most of these attributes, you need to consistently promote them throughout all of your dental advertising campaigns and patient interactions. So instead of relying on traditional advertising channels, which are often one-size-fits-all, you should consider proven methods that highlight what sets your practice apart. Uniquely customized newsletters, postcards, brochures and social media content are just a few of the ways you can engage with higher-quality patients, build awareness of your practice and what you offer, and promote your business as the authoritative choice in the region.
2. Create an office culture
Once you’ve figured out what sets your dental practice apart, it’s time to dive a little deeper and discover your office culture.
Yes, discover. Your office culture already exists—you just need to find it. It’s in your personality, your leadership style, your values, your systems, your behaviors, your expectations, and the way staff members communicate with each other and with patients. Essentially, it’s how you run your dental practice. Even your office decor and physical environment play a role in your office culture. When fined tuned, your unique way of doing things has the power to boost productivity, attract quality staff, and keep patients coming back for more.
To develop and strengthen your office culture, gather all of your staff members and have an in-depth discussion about your dental office’s day-to-day operations as well as its long-term goals. Have everyone write down what they believe to be the identifying factors, then work through them so each employee is on the same page. When each employee is working towards the same objective, they’ll be happier and more caring and your dental practice will thrive!
3. Expand your services
When it comes time to grow your patient base, think of ways you can expand your services to improve value, strengthen your competitive position, and pique the interest of prospective patients. Maybe your production potential is limited by the size of your current dental office, and you’re thinking of moving to a bigger space or including additional associates. Maybe you’re interested in improving your clinic’s accessibility. Or maybe you’re considering introducing new specialties to meet your community’s growing needs.
Whatever route you’re considering, make sure you don’t overextend your practice! By striking the right balance of state-of-the-art technology and uncompromising quality, you will become a successful dentist with a strong reputation, loyal clients, and maximized profits.
4. Flexible financial options
Every successful dentist provides patients with a wide range of payment options so they’ll be more inclined to accept treatment recommendations and return for ongoing dental care. In addition to insurance coverage, convenient financial options include debit, credit, personal check and cash, plus special financing to ensure personal financial circumstances don’t interfere with dental health care decisions.
5. Remember to engage
For a dental practice, nothing matters more than being able to count on a set of loyal patients who regularly visit and who would recommend the practice to their friends and family. After all, retaining existing patients is substantially less expensive than having to put in the effort to acquire new ones. But retaining existing patients requires more than just offering passable service, convenient hours, and an easy-to-access location. It’s about engaging patients, reaching out to them on an emotional level, earning their trust, and creating relationships that last.
Thanks to today’s digital age, there are countless opportunities for dentists to not only reach out to existing and prospective patients, but to also connect with them on an ongoing basis. Through cross-channel marketing, which includes a mix of direct mail, social media and email marketing, it’s never been easier to remain at the forefront of patients’ minds, show them you truly care, and become the most successful dentist you can be.
6. Improve patient referrals
When it comes to growing your patient base, nothing beats a word-of-mouth referral. A trusted recommendation from a friend, family member, colleague or even the internet can be the sole reason why a patient chooses your dental practice over another.
As great as patient referrals are, existing patients are busy with their own lives and don’t often think about supporting and growing your business. So, to help encourage patients to tell others about your services, you’ll need to be proactive in asking for patient referrals. You could hand out referral cards at the office, tuck cards into your practice mailings, offer a referral bonus program, provide patients with quick links to online review sites, or even incentivize employees to motivate them to grow your practice. Whichever referral method you choose, don’t forget to follow up and follow through!
7. Upgrade your scheduling system
A quality dental scheduling system does more than just allow you to book appointments. It creates better patient flow, maximizes productivity, decreases stress for both patients and staff, and ultimately contributes to the superior customer service that your patients expect. That’s why you need to ensure your dental practice has the most flexible, efficient, and up-to-date scheduling software possible.
8. Make sure your staff is trained
A patient’s experience begins with their first point of contact, which is most often a receptionist or another member of your front desk team. In fact, your front desk team is your practice to new patient callers. Their professionalism, attitude, and communication skills all leave a lasting impression on patients—an impression that can make or break your dental practice.
That said, professional training and continued education are essential elements of how to run a dental practice. Make sure that each person who greets and works with your patients, either in person or over the phone, is trained to make the most of each patient interaction. From advanced communication and customer service techniques to technical expertise and dental best practices, a quality dental front desk training program will give your team the skills they need to book more appointments and improve patient satisfaction.