7 Patient-Experience Mistakes You Can Fix
What prevents your patients and prospective patients from having the best experience with your practice or group? What components actually affect the “best experience”? The answers cover both internal and external factors and reveal some fixable mistakes that many small businesses make due to lack of time, resources, awareness, anecdotal information or preconceived notions or other factors that can be avoided with a little planning.
- Being disjointed
Patients see dental providers from varied directions. Direct mail, website, signage, online, in-office, transactions, office communications, word around town, etc., and if the message isn’t consistent throughout the interactions and touchpoints, it can rattle trust and impact confidence. Similarly, if the practice has been hit and miss with marketing and communication efforts, that too can impact reputation.
By completing an analysis of past marketing, market share, current online information, area demographics, etc., practice owners and dental marketing managers can adjust and improve their presentation across channels. Who is the target patient – who will actually attend the practice – not the desired patient that lives outside of the drive radius? What are their buying preferences? What does that prime audience see and know about the practice?
Practice owners can take control and deliver a consistent, positive brand image across all channels which will help to drive more patient appointments, attract more quality new patients, and improve patient satisfaction. (Hint: we have some answers to help, and we’re already halfway through 2022.)
- Not considering the entire patient journey
The modern patient journey starts with practice awareness and continues to research, buying decision, experience, advocacy, and the loyalty loop for practice growth.
How do patients find out about your practice? Has there been a concerted effort to work on visibility, patient referrals, direct mail, paid ads? What is the patient’s first contact and first live interaction like? Is it super welcoming, positive, and enthusiastic? Is it responsive and timely? Don’t forget the different levels of knowledge and varying degrees of experience – both good and bad, correct and incorrect, patients will have. We can all do a Google search and find answers in seconds, which means we have little patience when a company doesn’t respond fast or can’t quickly tell us what we need to know. Your communications need to account for that.
- Excluding team members
Dental marketing campaigns often fail when the front-line team hasn’t been included in the campaign development. The people who carry the key to practice success are the people who greet, welcome, and convert patients. If they don’t understand practice production levels or practice goals, they can’t work to improve results and the patient experience. When a team member is left out, that’s when a new patient is just more work versus a fantastic win.
Being included makes everyone on the team happier – and this correlates to happier, more-satisfied patients. There have been many studies that connect the dots between happier employees and efficiency, creativity, and productivity too – so it’s a win-win to get everyone on the same page.
The average new patient is worth almost $2,000 for a dental office. And adding one more new patient a day doesn’t add any more overhead so just about all of that $2K, aside from consumables, goes straight to the bottom line. And adding “one more a day” adds $500,000 to top line projections if you’re open 5 days a week every week. Wouldn’t that be a pretty cool goal to get everyone involved in?
- Neglecting to consider perceptions
Research shows that consumer “perceptions” hurt us more than we know. Most customers don’t tell us about their perceptions or their impressions and opinions of our business, they just don’t do business with us. The majority, 94% of people, notice the design of marketing first, then decide if they will continue or move on. They want a mobile-friendly experience which reflects how modern your practice is perceived to be. Perceived indifference is the number-one reason clients vanish. According to the Future of Customer Experience survey, 60% of people will walk after several bad experiences, and almost 20% after just one, even when they love the company!
Take a second look at your core marketing campaigns, direct mail, and your website. They should be married to each other and be professional, modern, and easy to comprehend. What about the exterior and patient areas in your offices? Patients expect a clean, modern experience from the first touchpoint to their last. And does the experience match the message? Like you and me, consumers rank speed, convenience, knowledge, help, and friendly service as top positives. Walk your talk.
- Missing communication structures
There are best practices for the order messaging is presented to patients, both in print and digital marketing. It’s important to create an experience that makes sense for patients to navigate through when your goal is to generate an appointment with the reader. Your marketing communications must be easy to get to, easy to understand, and easy to follow the path to booking. Convoluted, outdated, overloaded, communications full of technical jargon … these just make it confusing for patients and they walk away. You’re a consumer too. If something is going to take too much of your time to figure out or get through, you’re also likely to bail.
- Not making patients number one
Content is king and it needs to be focused on the benefits of your practice, not the features, technology, or skills.
Sometimes it can be tough to get dentists to push ego aside. The thing is, you’re great; your dedication to education is beyond most, you’ve done a ton of work learning what you know, gaining experience, being credentialed, and adding technologies to your practice. You should be able to brag, but it needs to be in a way that shows patients how THEY will benefit. Content created the wrong way may allow patients to see that you’re really smart and have a lot of tech and are leading-edge, but the information can be intimidating, and when it is about YOU and not about THEM, patients shut down and can’t connect the dots to what will benefit them.
- Not making EACH new patient feel like they’re number one at the first live interaction.
I recently had an experience with an emergency animal hospital for my puppy Lucy that relates to this blog when you consider that dental patients perceive that dentistry is expensive, but they’re willing to pay when they get great service. Lucy is doing well now, but it was an emergency and very scary. There were lots of interactions and phone calls over the past week and every single person I spoke with from the initial call to office staff, to multiple vet techs, multiple vets, and the transactions of drop off pick up payment, etc., was patient, encouraging, knowledgeable, and helpful. Not one tried to rush me off the phone. It was curbside drop-off, waiting and pick-up, so I was there, and I saw how busy and frantic the hospital was with pet emergencies landing one after another after another. If there was ever a healthcare setting that would rush a lower-level patient off the phone it would be this one. But no, not a single interaction made me feel like I wasn’t super important, that Lucy and I weren’t the only ones they needed to speak with and take care of. The fee was highway robbery. But the service was awesome, helpful, and kind – and pawsitive! LOL. I would refer them and I’m swallowing the thousands of dollars I paid, because Lucy is back to herself, happy at home with me, and they made me feel like they really cared, and I was important. And studies show that patients are willing to pay more for a great experience. Dentists need to pay attention to this one.
Listen to a few of your inbound calls. Just do some random audits. Believe it or not, “dentist office, hold please” without letting a new patient speak is still a thing. And it’s not doing anyone any favors.
These are just a few things you can improve to provide a superior patient experience. When you make patients feel absolutely cared for and appreciated at every interaction, you’ll get more great reviews, more returning patients, more referrals, more case acceptance, and you’ll generate higher production and experience greater growth at the practice – and group – level.
Hey, the team at Patient NEWS can help you with each one of these points. Call or schedule your free consultation today.