The Eight Qualities of Great Customer Service in Dentistry

Fadi Swaida, DDS

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Customer-centered service is the key to any successful business, and dentistry is no different. So, here are eight service-oriented qualities to inspire you to strive for greater success and to put your patients at ease.  

Create a Comfortable Environment 

Many people have negative associations with the dentist, which can prevent them from scheduling dental appointments, potentially putting their oral health at risk. To encourage people to visit your practice, reassure anxious patients by creating a comfortable and welcoming environment. This begins with your attitude.

A positive and warm manner toward your patients can calm their nerves and help them feel at ease. Empathize with their anxiety or dental phobia by using verbal reassurances, and together determine a signal for them to ask you to pause treatment if they feel uncomfortable. 

In my experience as a cosmetic dentist, I have found that telling your patients to raise their right hand if they feel anxious can help them to feel more in control of the procedure and alleviate their anxiety. After a few positive experiences at your dental clinic, you may find that your patients no longer exhibit any dental fears.  

Easy & Flexible Scheduling

We all need to balance work and personal life in our profession. However, it is also essential to accommodate special scheduling for your patients who are busy professionals as well as for your patients who are children still in school.

At my practice, I offer Saturday appointments. I also provide an emergency contact number for my patients. Most patients will never need to use it, but it brings them comfort, knowing I am just a phone call away in an emergency.   

Hygiene Is Important

Cleanliness is one of the top qualities patients look for in a dental clinic. This applies not only to your exam and surgery rooms but also to your waiting room, bathroom, and any other areas of your clinic that your patients may use.

Keep a cleaning schedule to ensure your waiting room and bathrooms are cleaned throughout the day. Use state-of-the-art sterilization equipment for sanitizing dental tools and textiles between patients. Spray and wipe down surfaces with medical-grade disinfectants to eliminate dust, debris, and pathogens to prevent cross contamination.

Be rigorous about hygiene practices when handling tools and performing patient exams. Never touch patient charts, touchscreens, or other potentially contaminated surfaces to prevent transferring bacteria to the patient during an exam. 

Your Décor Matters 

Your décor can create a great first impression and should be based on your target demographics. Choose bright colors for a children’s or orthodontic practice and neutral shades and minimalist design for an oral surgeon’s waiting room. If your demographic is environmentally conscious, choose a shade of green. If your patients are primarily female, choose purple. The colors you choose can put your patients at ease, reduce their level of anxiety, and help you develop a trusting relationship.

Keep Up-to-Date with the Latest Technology

Cutting-edge instruments and equipment in your surgery enhance patient outcomes and the success of your practice. Patients also respond positively to new dental technologies because they are perceived as more effective and less invasive. Using current dental technology demonstrates your focus on professional development, which can be reassuring to many patients.

Be Positive, But Encourage Improvement 

As dentists, we understand the importance of oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, and diet. Inquire about your patients’ current oral hygiene routine at each visit. However, avoid being judgmental if their oral hygiene isn’t up to standard. This is especially important for children and teens. Praise them for their healthy habits and gently remind them about the areas where they can improve.   

Provide Clear Professional Recommendations

To help alleviate anxiety and address patient concerns, always provide clear information about an upcoming procedure, including the benefits and risks so they can make an informed decision. 

For a gentle approach to advising patients, provide a synopsis of your services on your website but without too much medical terminology. Patients appreciate honesty and clarity but don’t want to be intimidated or overwhelmed by medical jargon.    

Don’t Underestimate Word-of-Mouth Marketing 

Although online reviews can be an important part of your marketing strategy, people looking for a new dentist are more likely to trust comments made by a neighbor, a friend, or a coworker. If your dentistry and customer service are outstanding, you can benefit from word-of-mouth referrals.

Connect personally with patients by remembering small details such as where their grandchild goes to college or the name of their pet. Patients are more likely to refer your dental practice to others if you show an interest in them as well as in their oral health.  

Final Word

Ultimately, the best dental practices are patient-centric, so focusing on the comfort and happiness of your customers is the most effective way to build your patient base and operate a successful dental service. 

Dr. Swaida first graduated from the University of Western Ontario with an honors BSc in biology before graduating from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Dentistry. He is an active member of his church and enjoys football and being by the water. His outgoing personality and fun-loving character will ensure you always feel welcome at Dentist North York. He can be reached at editor@dentistnorthyork.com.

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