Get More New Patients – Give Great
By Joanne Bishop | February 1, 2018
The difference between good customer service and great customer service isn’t always at the forefront of our minds, nor do we always recognize that we’re only giving good service instead of great, which we should be giving.
Last month I had such a great healthcare customer service experience that I had to share it. Dental offices that want more new patients should read this story. I’ll try to be quick!
I needed a new dermatologist (‘70s teen/baby oil/sun damage) LOL! I didn’t particularly have a strong relationship with my previous doctor and the nurse that usually helped me had recently retired. (Heads up – this is kind of like a hygienist retiring or leaving – watch out for the patients that loved him/her – they are at risk of lapsing if you don’t give them some extra-special attention).
Don’t wait until your demographic has a need. Prompt them with direct mail.
Anyway, I am busy with Patient News so finding time for these visits is challenging and I had a very specific date and time available. So many practices overlook the power of direct mail – in my mid-50s, successful career, heavily insured – I should be getting tons of proactive mailings from my local providers. Dumb dumb dumb. Don’t wait until your demographic has a need. Prompt them with direct mail!
To continue, I was left to search online. Perhaps I didn’t even pick the best option – I selected a practice that had the most Google reviews. Then I clicked through and read a few of their most recent reviews – service sounded pretty good. Website was responsive. Easy to click and call.
I called and requested my specific day and time. The receptionist offered alternative options – probably trying to close their hard-to-fill openings – these options were convenient to the day I was calling, but not the specific time I wanted.
I thanked them for their help but told them I didn’t have flexibility. When I mentioned that I had been a patient at their competitor and was looking for a new provider, the receptionist immediately said very pleasantly, “Okay, I better get you in here then!” and found/created an appointment for exactly the time I wanted.
I went, service was great, and I was very happy. I ended up having an uncomfortable reaction to treatment and when I contacted them, with a very specific time that I could come back, they accommodated – and it happened to be a day/time that the office was not normally open. Not only did they accommodate me again, they reassured me about treatment, provided a cell number to “text anytime,” and made me feel like they truly cared.
I realized that this is exactly why this office had the largest number of positive reviews on Google.
This level of customer service is exactly what every dental practice should do for new patients. Adult dentistry is in decline. People don’t think they need it – or they think it’s too expensive. It’s a “luxury” service, so dental offices must provide luxury customer service.
And don’t forget – it starts with first impressions.
- I have to say it – select the top 5-10,000 households in your core demographic and direct mail them monthly!
- Look at your online presence – is your website up-to-date, modern looking, responsive, fast?
- Do you have a Google listing?
- Do you have Google reviews? Do you have enough to support a 4.5-5-star average?
- Do you have a plan to generate more Google reviews?
- Has your front desk team been trained on the best call handling techniques for a new patient call?
- Does your team understand the importance of your new-patient goals?
- Is your front office team “on it” for every call – friendly, enthusiastic, and helpful?
- Does your team have the authority and knowledge to manipulate your schedule to book patients when they want?
- Do you have extended phone coverage hours so you don’t miss a new-patient call?
- Do you offer a bonus to your team for taking the ball and booking as many new patients as they can?
Just about every dentist and marketing manager we talk to wants more new patients.
Wanting and working for are two very different things.
This recent experience resonated with me. In today’s highly competitive world, it’s imperative that we pay attention to consumer behavior. More and more patients are looking you up online before they phone your practice. If you do two things in 2018, do this:
1. Train your reception team to be awesome on every new patient call.
2. Make sure your online presence is stellar.