When looking at dental offices reviews, the most prominent comments are usually in regards to customer service. Lower ratings are usually attributed to poor customer service or unpleasant interactions with the office staff. Additionally, there’s a sense of disconnect between the patients and the dental office since they don’t feel valued.
Coupled with dentist visits being a necessary inconvenience, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many patients opt to skip their appointment in favor of more exciting activities. These no-shows or late-cancellations really affect the dental office’s productivity when you can’t find a patient to fill the spot on such short notice.
Fortunately, it’s possible to bridge this disconnect between the patients and the dental office. Just by improving your customer service, you’ll have much higher retention rates! Here are five tips for you to improve customer service at your office to win more patients and increase productivity:
Build a Personal Relationship with Customers
If you’ve been telling your staff to have less chit-chat with the patients and shorten the appointment time, stop. Yes, casual conversation can prolong an appointment, but it’s also the perfect opportunity for your service providers to build a relationship with their patients.
Let your providers gauge how much extra time they need for each type of appointment – within a reasonable amount. This way, they won’t be rushing to complete the procedures and will have time to connect with the patient. As a result, patients build trust with their providers and are more open to accepting recommended and required oral procedures. They’ll also more likely to recommend your clinic to their friends and family!
Sometimes patients are still reluctant to accept your recommended procedures because they’re afraid or don’t know why they need them. It’s important to keep them educated about the importance of oral health so that patients can make more informed decisions. Other times, they’re too polite to refuse your suggestion and end up cancelling their appointment later on.
Rather than rushing your patient out of the room after an appointment, spend some time explaining why they might need certain treatments in the future. Walk them through how a procedure is typically done and what to expect afterwards to help them ease any fears. Also, give them the opportunity to ask any questions so that you can address their concerns. By letting them know of problems that could arise without treating the conditions and helping to manage their expectations, your patient is more likely to accept a necessary treatment that you’re proposing.
Make Patients Feel Valued
First impressions are important and a new patient is unlikely to return if they felt indifferent to the staff. For example, if a receptionist ignores a patient when they arrive, it can be perceived as being rude. If the patient arrives on time but ends up waiting for more than 30 minutes, they would think the office doesn’t value their time. All these things can lead the patient to feel undervalued and some would be more than happy to take their business somewhere else.
Make sure that all your staff are clear about the level of customer service you expect, such as creating memorable experiences. If a patient mentions they’re going on vacation, take a note so you can ask them about it the next time they come in! Most dental management software, such as Paradigm Clinical, lets you keep side notes for patients, and you can use this as an aid for more personal interactions. You can also set up automated SMS to be sent out on special occasions such as on their birthdays. These are simple gestures, but it let patients feel that you care about them outside of the clinic.
On the other hand, while you should encourage your staff to make personal connections, as mentioned above, it is also important for them to keep track of time so that appointments don’t overlap with the next – It’s important that patients feel that you value their time.
Reward Patients for Their Loyalty
While patients don’t normally expect to be rewarded for their business, it’s a great gesture to show your appreciation for them. Something you can do for the office is to set up promotions such as:
- Birthday/loyalty discount on specific services
- Free teeth cleaning service after a set number of visits
- Entering patients into raffles when they’re on time for their appointments that month
- Dental product gifts for special occasions
These are some fun ideas to spruce up your office and give the patients something to look forward to when they next visit.
However, rewards don’t always have to have a monetary value. Other ways to provide patients with a rewarding experience at your office includes showing your appreciation for them when they visit or ensuring that their needs are met while they’re at the office are
Tip: Keep notes in your patient’s file to record any “prizes” they’ve received so you don’t forget when they inquire about it.
Address All Complaints, Big or Small
A negative review can have dire consequences for your dental office – especially when they also share their frustration with their friends and family. Not only will you be losing one patient, but you’ll also lose the leads to their connections.
By addressing complaints quickly and professionally, you’re showing patients that you care about their concerns. Taking this initiative also builds their confidence in knowing that you will go lengths to help them make things right. Instead of venting their frustrations, they’ll be praising the office for taking the initiative to turn their experience around.
If you offer a discount or special service for the patient as compensation, let all your staff know and make a note on the patient file for the next time they come back.
With the dental office putting more effort towards making a personal connection with your patients, you’ll be able to create a positive impression on them. In doing so, you’ll build loyalty with this patient, as their next appointment will seem like visiting a friend rather than a chore. Additionally, you’ll be able to build rapport amongst their friends and family when they share their positive experiences. Your dental office will generate more leads through word-of-mouth and will win more patients just by your staff giving stellar customer service!