Define Your Touch Points
When do your patients get contacted?
If a patient schedules an appointment with your practice, what is your timeline for communicating with them? Do you wait until the day before to remind them of their upcoming appointment? Do you follow up with them after their appointment?
What events trigger communication from your practice?
- Appointment scheduling and reminders
- Missed appointment information
- Upcoming appointment reminders and details
- After visit follow-up
- Asking for Feedback
- Just saying “Hi"
- Birthday Card
- Referral request, etc.
Having a playbook for when to communicate to your patients based on different scenarios is key to running an efficient front office and maintaining your current patient base. Don't let people fall through the cracks. Set up reminders for communication and double check your team by using a dental KPI dashboard for accountability.
How do your patients get contacted?
Patient communication is moving to digital but that may not be ideal for all of your patients. You need to know who your patients are and how they like to be contacted. Are they of the Baby Boomer generation who prefer phone calls, postcards and letters? Or are they millennials who never answer the phone but quickly respond to text messages?
Keep in mind that not everyone fits into their proverbial generational box. Try asking how your patients prefer to be contacted the next time they schedule an appointment. Make it part of your front desk's protocol to ask every new patient their communication preferences. Don't forget to ask permission to send texts and emails.
Take inventory on how you currently keep in touch with your patients. Through the discovery process of finding how your patients like to be contacted, you may find you need to upgrade your patient communication system from offline to online. There are many tools you can use, just google it.
What is the purpose of communication?
Sending a "Happy Birthday" card is nice, but if you don't know why you are doing it then you are missing the point. Patient communication should be done with purpose and align with both who you are as a practice and your goals. Is your practice family oriented? Do you know about your patient's personal lives? If so, incorporate that into your communication strategy. The purpose of communication in this case is more than just appointment reminders to keep up production. It becomes about the patient feeling known and valued which in turn creates a desire for your patients to keep coming back to your practice. Patient loyalty ultimately leads to a stable revenue stream. Know your goals to understand the "why" behind what you do on a daily basis in order to communicate effectively.
Prepare For Inbound
What happens when your patients call your practice? Have you ever considered their experience? How long are they put on hold, etc.? What is the tone of the person's voice on the phone? Are they smiling? You can tell a lot about a person's posture just by the their tone of voice. Many people will judge a dental practice purely by the experience they have on the phone when they call about a mouth issue, insurance question or to schedule an appointment. If they are treated poorly, you better believe they will look on Yelp or Google and find a well-liked practice. You may get your own negative review from them on those sites as well. So be prepared, know what's happening, and train your team on the do's and don'ts in your front office.
Pro Tip: Call your own practice anonymously and see how your patients’ experience matches your goals. If your voice is too easy to recognize, try having a spouse or a friend call in and give you their feedback on the process.
Learn how patient communication plays a role in your Reactivation Strategy in our FREE Guide!