Patient relationships are the backbone of a successful dental practice and one of the factors that makes dentistry special. Dental practices have focused for many years on how to build great relationships with patients, and I’ve heard it called many things including patient management, customer service, interpersonal relations, or the overall patient experience.
Whatever you decide to name it, there is a science to building great patient relationships. Here are five ways you can immediately enhance patient relations in your practice.
First, go out of your way to let patients know you care. One of the easiest ways to do this is to call patients at night. Texting is fine and easier. But as a recent Harvard Business Review article pointed out, speaking directly with someone builds your relationship much better than simply texting. Taking a few minutes each evening to call patients who were seen that day, or who had complex treatment, will demonstrate how much you care.
Second, select three patients every day and have a team member text them after their appointment. The text can be as simple as “It was great to see you.” Or you could say, “Glad to hear you had a wonderful vacation,” or “Great job finishing college.”
These texts are all quick and simple. But when people receive them, they will be impressed and feel the practice really cares. Think about it this way: Three texts per day, four days a week, equals 12 texts per week. If the practice carries this out for 48 weeks, then it will have touched 576 patients in a year. That is a powerful way to build patient relations!
Third, learn one new thing about every patient each time they come to the office. People love to talk about themselves and appreciate it when someone shows an interest in them. According to a fantastic maxim I learned many years ago, it is better to be interested than interesting.
Take the time to ask each patient about something that will give you some insight into their life. Put it in a note in their record so you remember it the next time they visit. It will be appreciated and create a more positive patient experience.
Fourth, let patients know how great it is to hear from them. Front desk people want to do a great job, but they sometimes get caught up in all the busyness happening around them. When the phone rings, it’s seen as an interruption, and often their goal in that moment is to end the call as quickly as possible.
Instead, always encourage the front staff to let all patients know they’re delighted they called. This will make the patient feel good and help the practice to stand out.
Finally, continually work toward five-star customer service. Adopt an attitude of trying to do anything possible to be of help and service to a patient. By developing an attitude of “We love our patients” and wanting to do everything possible to create a positive experience, customer service will automatically improve. Practices that reach the five-star level will differentiate themselves from others and attract more new patients who will stay with them longer.
If you asked patients what they want from a practice, they probably wouldn’t say “an excellent patient-practice relationship.” But in many cases, people don’t recognize what they will ultimately appreciate, and excellent relationships are highly appreciated. Patient relationships will be a defining factor of success for dental practices in the future, and using these five strategies will help your practice build them effectively.
Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.