More than six in 10 consumers in the United States say their go-to channel for simple inquiries is a digital self-serve tool such as a website, mobile app, voice response system, or online chat, according to American Express. To succeed in today’s highly competitive dental practice market, it’s critical that dentists find ways to ensure that their practice stands apart from competitors.
One strategy to building a thriving practice is a strong online presence so your patients and potential patients can easily learn about you, your practice, and open lines of communication. You can build a strong online community by deploying cloud-based software that simplifies the patient experience and allows them to easily share their feedback about your practice.
To modernize your practice, consider technology solutions that serve as the centerpiece of your patient acquisition and retention strategy. Doing so allows you to automate business growth and front desk operations that will help you stay ahead of your competition.
Are You a Practice Growth or Patient Engagement Expert?
You did not go to dental school to study patient acquisition or become a digital marketing professional. The training to become a dentist takes years of hard work and dedication, but it did not include any formal education or courses in website development, branding, search engine optimization, or email automation. The good news is that available software-as-a-service solutions are easy to use and designed to specifically promote and strengthen your dental practice.
Before moving forward, outline your goals so that you can find the solution that best fits your needs. When speaking with dentists, the two main goals I hear center around patient satisfaction and increasing the number of patients. To find the solution that fits your needs, consider five questions
What Are You Trying to Achieve?
You’d be surprised how may dentists I’ve spoken with who don’t ask themselves this simple question. Simply saying “I want more patients” is just the start. There are operational questions to consider, including:
- What is my ideal patient profile?
- Is my appointment scheduling system easy and intuitive for patients?
- How effective is my front office staff while interacting with first-time patients?
- Do I have educational materials for specific treatments?
But the first question that needs to be asked is what you are trying to achieve.
We live in an online- and customer-centric world, so should dental practices focus on creating an engaging patient experience? The answer is yes. According to research firm Forrester, 66% of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good online customer experience.
State very clearly what you’re trying to achieve by improving your online presence. Tailoring your dental practice’s online footprint to meet your patients’ needs is an easy way to strengthen patient loyalty.
How Much Importance Should Be Placed on Patient Reviews?
Whether we’re talking about millennials, soccer moms, or retired workers, most people are comfortable using web-based technologies. When looking for a dentist, it’s quite common for people to read patient reviews about a dentist’s skills, interaction with patients, and how the practice operates.
One critical aspect of any dental practice website is the patient reviews section. Positive reviews go a long way toward expanding your practice since search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo list recommended businesses based on how people review your practice.
Negative reviews can damage your reputation, while positive reviews can improve patient acquisition and retention. Positive and negative customer reviews directly impact where your practice appears in online searches. When considering technology to build your online presence, focus on understanding how to build a strong reputation for your brand.
According to BrightLocal research, 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business when asked. If you want to grow your practice and set yourself up for long-term success, focus on getting positive patient reviews. This will go a long way toward building strong relationships with your patients.
How Important Is the Mobile User Experience?
This is a no-brainer. Research from HubSpot states that 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if it has a mobile-friendly site. The rate of use of mobile technology continues to grow, and your practice must be equipped to support customers via mobile solutions.
Millennials are the most mobile-centric demographic. Statista states that 99% of Americans aged 18 to 29 use a personal cell phone. In addition, Reviews.org found that more than three-quarters of Americans consider themselves to be addicted to their phones.
Almost everyone uses mobile devices in their day-to-day lives, which means that dentists need a strong mobile presence to offer a seamless experience across multiple devices. The most important question to ask when considering deploying mobile technology is how long your website takes to load on a cell phone. Patients do not have patience when it comes to waiting for webpages to load. If your website is slow to respond to mobile devices, you’re going to lose patients.
How Vital Is a Modern and Intuitive Website?
Considering these statistics, a strong web presence is very important. If you’re looking for a dentist, wouldn’t you go online to find someone who is highly rated? More importantly, once you find a few dentists who rank high in customer satisfaction, you’d go directly to their websites. First impressions are very, very important.
When considering your new website, think about what kind of message you want to convey to potential patients. You can showcase your family-friendly focus, anxiety-free holistic dentistry, or latest dental technologies.
It’s also important to decide how informative you want your website to be. Should it just include your experience and professional background, where you went to medical school, and scheduling details? Or should you include timely information including articles about current practices in dentistry and your social media channels?
How Do You Best Leverage Social Media to Promote Your Brand?
Depending on the age and demographics of your patient base, you should consider utilizing social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. They all are designed to help you raise awareness of your practice. However, it’s important to remember that social media isn’t advertising. It’s a two-way communication channel for you and your patients.
The goal is to have your patients share the delightful experience they had at your dental office. It’s just as important to have them share those insights with their network. Again, getting patients to post positive reviews goes a long, long way toward attracting new patients.
Building Your Online Presence
While nothing works better for building your practice than addressing your patients’ dental needs, a strong online presence can be a huge help. The key is to build a strategy that focuses on showcasing your talent and education, spotlights happy patients, and gives them a voice to promote your practice.
Mr. Bhatti is the cofounder and CEO of GrowthPlug, a technology company created to help healthcare and dental practices become modern and efficient and grow online by delivering a patient–first experience. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at LinkedIn.