The best offense is a good defense, right? Well, the best reactivation campaign is a good patient retention program. Many patients end up having to be reactivated because there wasn't a good hand-off strategy in place. There are people who work in the front office don't feel confident asking the patient to schedule an appointment 6 months out. At any point where the patient isn't sure of when to schedule, many staffers abandon the pre-appointing process and give up. Patients also may try to avoid scheduling for lack of time to wait around for a busy front office to get to them. But don't worry, in this post we are going to we are going to share how to retain your dental patients.
Here is how to increase dental patient retention:
Do: Make Rescheduling Easy
Do you know your patients preferred days and times? Do they always request Thursdays at 9am? Dental scheduling doesn't have to be rocket science. You have a record of past appointment days and times. Make it easy on your patient by knowing their preferences. Say something like, "I noticed you typically schedule for Thursdays at 9am. Do you want me to put you down for that time slot for your next hygiene appointment?" They are going to be so impressed that you know their schedule better than them that they'll most likely agree. If they give you any pushback just let them know that they can always change their appointment as it gets closer if there are any conflicts. The good news is you'll have them scheduled in your system.
Don't: Let them leave un-appointed
Do you want to know how to retain dental patients? Don't let a patient leave un-appointed. A patient that leaves the office without another appointment on the calendar is more likely to not reschedule. If you find a lot of patients skip appointments, give incentives for patients to keep appointments.
Do: Communicate Clearly
Find the balance between keeping patients informed and annoying them with too many calls, emails, etc. Create a good follow-up strategy for reminding your patients of their upcoming appointments. If your patients are millennials you may want to look into a patient communication system that has text reminders. Older patients may still enjoy getting a postcard in the mail to remind them.
Finding the right method to communicate is important, but timing is everything. Send a reminder 2 weeks prior to their scheduled appointment to give them time to reschedule if they need to. People get busy and forget within a few days so texting them 24 hours prior will remind them of their appointment the following day.
Don't: Spam your patients
There's a fine line between making sure your patients are well informed and annoying them with too many calls, texts and postcards. If you remind your patients every month for 6 months of their upcoming hygiene appointment, you're going to irritate them. To be honest, reminding them any sooner than a few weeks out won't be effective. They will most likely forget or just ignore it anyway.
Do: Make It A Comfortable Experience
Would you want to sit in your waiting room? Is it clean? Are the chairs comfortable? Are you playing fun music or is it elevator music? What is the personality of your practice?
You should have a well thought-out hand-off strategy to make your patients feel valued and get through your practice quickly and comfortably. Introduce your patient to the next person they will be seeing. Let them know what is happening next. A lot of people fear the unknown and just letting them know what is coming up can help them relax.
Don't: Leave them to figure it out
Especially if you have new patients, don't leave them to figure out the check in and check out processes. The entire point of a hand-off strategy is that someone is constantly with them and handing them off to the next person, guiding them through an experience. Even if your patients are veterans of your practice, keep the white glove approach going. Nothing is worse than a patient feeling like they aren't valued anymore because they a committed customers. The truth is, they can leave and go to another practice any time they want. Don't take your patients for granted.
Do: Put A Smile In Your Voice
Your front desk is the first impression of your practice both over the phone and in the waiting room. People can tell if your smiling even over the phone. You may be having a busy day or even a bad day but that isn't your patient's problem. You need to treat each patient as if they are the best thing that ever happened to your practice...because they are. Without them, you wouldn't have a dental practice. Most people are nervous going to the dentist. You can turn their entire day around by having a fun, positive attitude. This experience needs to be consistent from the front desk team to the hygienist, dental assistant and dentist.
Do you know how to get dental patients to schedule treatment?
- Treat them with respect.
- Have their best interest in mind.
- Make them feel valued.
Don't: Be Shy
Have fun with your patients. Get to know them. Do they have kids? Are they single or married? What big events are coming up in their life. Don't be shy. The best way to retain a patient and get referrals for more is creating a good experience for your patients and making them feel known and valued.