To Chat, or Not to Chat?

Jackie Ulasewich


If you’re a regular on the internet, you may have noticed that more sites now offer “chat with an associate” options. You can simply initiate a chat, go about your online business, and have your question answered in a matter of minutes—even seconds. This responsivity appeals to many web surfers, particularly to the increasing number of people who loathe making phone calls. So, should you consider using it in your practice? Maybe, but maybe not. 

The Pros

If you have someone who can respond to chats during your business hours, a “live” chat could be a fantastic way to set yourself apart from the practices around you. A chat option allows you to strike while the iron is hot, as you can respond almost immediately to someone who is interested. By the time you respond to an email, they may have moved on. 

A chat option also establishes that you will be there for them. Their first contact will make them know that people are a priority in your practice. Plus, chat gives patients the opportunity to ask simple questions on their own time, whether they’re trying to be discreet while on the job or they don’t want to interrupt a Netflix binge to make a phone call.

The Cons 

Live chats can be an asset if they’re properly monitored, but there are potential drawbacks.

For example, no matter how clear your website messaging is, your team members could find themselves dealing with a person who is asking for medical advice. Live chats are perfect for questions like “Do you take Humana?” But it’s not the place for someone to ask you to diagnose the need for a root canal.

Also, the (relative) anonymity of live chats makes it easier for participants to leave negative reviews about their experiences. If they have to wait too long for a response or if they are disappointed that you won’t diagnose via message, you could find yourself dealing with a reputation management nightmare.

Finally, it’s another “thing” to monitor. If you have a willing and adaptive team, this may not be an issue. If you find yourself short staffed or have employees who resist change, live chats may not be right for your practice. The last thing you want to do is offer a live chat, have a potential patient ask a question, and then leave it unanswered because you do not have the manpower to manage the chat option efficiently

The Bottom Line

There’s no simple answer, really. It completely depends on your team, the type of patients you’re trying to reach, and how much time you’re willing to invest. Ultimately, if thinking about what’s involved makes you cringe, it’s probably not for you.

With more than a decade of experience in corporate dental laboratory marketing and brand development, Ms. Ulasewich decided to take her passion for the dental business and marketing to the next level by founding My Dental Agency. Since starting her company, she and her team have helped a wide variety of business owners all over the nation focus their message, reach their target audience, and increase their sales through effective marketing campaigns. She can be reached at (800) 689-6434 or via email at

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