How to make your practice more service focused (and why you should)
Patients have a lot of options when it comes to finding a dental home. If they have a negative experience at your office, they won’t hesitate to make their next appointment at the practice down the street. That’s why it’s so important to create an exceptional experience for every patient you see.
When patients have a “wow” experience at your practice, they’re not only more likely to stay loyal, they’re also more likely to refer your practice to family and friends. They might even be prompted to write a positive review about your office and share it on social media. Soon, your practice gets a reputation for offering top-notch care, which leads to more new patients and a healthier bottom line.
So how can you make your practice more service focused so you can reap these rewards? Here are a few tips:
Keep your practice comfortable and clean. Walking into a dental office with a clinical feel doesn’t exactly put patients at ease. Many are nervous about their appointment, and white walls lined with stiff chairs won’t do much to lower their anxiety. Help patients relax by creating a calming environment in your waiting area. Make it feel more like a living room than a dentist’s office with comfortable couches, soothing colors and plants.
Once they’re in the chair, the dentist should ask patients how he can make them more comfortable. This might include offering them a blanket to keep them warm during the procedure. If you have a television set up, ask what they would like to watch, or give them headphones so they can listen to music. Patients will appreciate these small gestures, and might even mention them to family and friends.
Your practice also should be clean and tidy—both inside and out. Make sure your sign, parking lot and the outside of your building are in tip-top shape. If they’re not, patients could have a negative impression of your office before they even walk in. You also should make sure the inside is free of clutter and that bathrooms are cleaned and stocked on a regular basis.
Make them feel special. All too often, patients feel like nothing more than a number when they visit a dental practice. To them, it seems like the team’s main focus is selling them expensive dentistry. That makes it difficult for patients to trust recommendations, and leads to them looking for a second opinion.
How can you avoid this? Let patients know both the dentist and the staff care about their well-being. Train team members to greet patients with a friendly smile as soon as they walk through the door. They also should help them with paperwork, address any concerns they have, offer them coffee or water as they wait and assure them they’re in good hands.
It’s also important to build a rapport with your patients. Start by asking them about their family, their work and their oral health goals. Tell them about the services you provide that can help them meet their goals and take the time to educate patients about their condition and the importance of maintaining their oral health. Call patients to check on them after a procedure to see how they’re feeling. None of this takes a lot of time or effort, but it all goes a long way in making patients feel special and like you actually care. And when patients know you care, they’re much more likely to stay loyal to your practice.
Make sure everyone is prepared to answer questions. Team members should feel comfortable answering common patient questions, and their answers should be consistent. If they’re not, it makes it difficult for patients to trust your practice and your recommendations. To keep messaging consistent, I suggest you track the most common questions patients ask and train team members on how to respond to them. They’ll be more confident answering questions and patients will appreciate how knowledgeable and helpful team members are.
To grow your patient base and your practice, you need a solid base of loyal patients who accept treatment and refer. Focusing on providing top-notch customer service is a great way to grow that loyal patient base. Offering exceptional patient experiences makes your practice stand out, leading to increased loyalty, more new patients and a more robust bottom line.
Need more ideas to improve your customer service efforts? Feel free to reach out. As always, I’m happy to help.
Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nation-wide dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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