Dental offices are open. Here are 5 quick tips to improve practice recovery.
Making certain that the patient experience at your dental office, even if you were confident it was stellar before the pandemic, now needs to be at the top of your list of goals as you re-open and welcome patients back. It’s a time to be sensitive, encouraging, positive and even enthusiastic when speaking with patients and when welcoming them back into your practice.
The “feeling” you give to patients and new patients will be key to winning active patients back again and to attracting and keeping new, high-value ones. You’ve formed special bonds with many of your patients, and
now every interaction with them is a new opportunity to demonstrate how important, trustworthy, and reliable you are to all patients.
You’re probably already anticipating the needs of your patients, and you’re already hearing and listening to their concerns or worries. By understanding patient priorities you’ll be able to provide services that genuinely serve patients’ needs – and meet your objectives.
You’ve already put relevant processes in place and taken relevant action so that your patient experience is aligned with practice goals and considerations. This is a time when you’ll need to rebuild trust. Trust has always been an essential ingredient for practice success, now even more so for consumers (and employees). How can you strengthen trust?
- Communicate regularly through all channels
- Be open with information about your practice situation
- Be timely with communication in this fluid situation
- Let patients know exactly what you’re doing to deserve their trust
- Focus on the good of others with your actions and connect on a personal level
- Deliver on commitments and services as promised.
In the past, practices may have been able to maintain a good level of production without dealing with change of systems. Now everything has been turned upside down. Systems and processes must change, and by far, patient experience must be improved to deliver 100% patient satisfaction.
Here are a few quick tips to improve the dental patient experience:
1. Communication strategies for existing patients
The goal is to fill schedules with as many patients as currently possible to build up production. But patients also need to feel valued and cared for outside of their appointments and transactions with your practice. Value-added communications from your practice will go a long way in securing patient loyalty right now, and will help you boost referrals of other members in the household and friends to increase high-value new patient visits.
A simple quarterly newsletter mailing, a monthly email newsletter, special email touchpoints … these types of information sharing touchpoints that go beyond scheduling and transactional communications will elevate your practice among your patients, spreading positive word of mouth.
Don’t forget your website. Patients will be searching for news and updates about office hours, safety procedures… Have the answers to the questions patients and new patients are asking on your website and social platforms.
2. Telephone training and scripting
It’s more important than ever to convert every phone call. New dental patient call handling has long been a challenge. Number one, say it with a smile. That can be heard over the phone. Listen to your inbound calls to provide coaching for your frontline (or have calls scored by a service like Patient NEWS for consistent help). In addition, new objections will be presented to your team. Your dental practice may have
already encountered some consistent objections that are posing a challenge to getting the appointment. Have these documented so you can assist with scripting to overcome patient concern. Provide your team with the tools and support (and solid scripting) to overcome concerns patients may present about coming back or coming in for the first time. Reassuring words like, I understand, we are well-prepared, we’ve had extensive training, risk is low, we have always followed CDC recommendations, we’re taking these steps, and we are committed to patient safety should be built into communication.
3. Communication strategies for your neighborhood
Direct mail is the only way to reach 100% of your most- ideal area households to attract new patients. When your direct mail also includes educational content and value-added information, it also gives prospective patients an elevated perception of your practice. Direct mail for dentists has a 20% higher motivational response than digital, making it far more persuasive. And when you combine direct mail and digital for a cohesive campaign, prospective patients will pay almost 40% more attention to you. Why communication to the neighborhood? New patients contribute, on average, 2X annual production versus active patients. You’ll need a good flow of new patients to help get back to pre-pandemic production levels.
4. Paperless & Payment options
Your new-patient intake form will need to be adjusted with your new intake requirements. Build it into your website so that patients can complete and submit from their homes. If you can avoid passing anything, including tablets, in the office, you’ll create a perceived safer, more positive, and easy experience for patients. Make the new experience seamless.
And what can you do around payment options to support patients? Share news of your revised payment plans, and if you don’t have one already, consider an in-house membership plan. In-house plans are very attractive to new patients, and membership patients are proven to contribute 2X production over non-insured patients because they are very engaged in their oral health and often take advantage of additional services. Given that many people may have recently lost employer-paid insurance benefits, promoting your membership plan will not only position you as providing value for those that want access to quality dental care at an affordable rate, you’ll also see an increase in production from those patients.
5. Monitor lapsing & patients without appointments
How many active patients did you have entering the crisis? How many do you have now? What percentage of patients did you generally have scheduled before, and what is your target now? Do you have a handle on how many patients were dropping off after 24 months without activity pre-pandemic so that you can benchmark your current statistics? Monitor these metrics daily and stay on top of outbound efforts to keep patients engaged and connected. You can do this with Practice ZEBRA™, the dental industry’s #1 dental marketing software solution. Try risk-free for 30-days right now.
How can Practice ZEBRA help “right now”? KPI benchmarks:
- Active patients
- Lapsing patients
- Top value patients
- Scheduled patients
- Patients without an appointment
- Patient values – active, new, by insurance provider
- Patient contact information (email isn’t going to cover off communications if you’re missing 30% of email addresses like most offices are)
- Production trends – pre-pandemic, year-over-year, moving forward.
And marketing automation:
- Monthly educational emails
- Email Anytime custom messages
- Appointment reminders
- Increase patient reviews with Review BoosterTM
- Convert more non-insured patients to membership patients with our DMP enhancer
- 2-way texting.
And there’s much more including Phone Power telephone training with scripts and support to help your team convert more patients into appointments.
Take a 30-day Risk-Free ride of Practice ZEBRA and see for yourself. Schedule a free demo.