By Dr. Greg Grillo
As the implications of 2020 stretch into another year, we’re learning that human connection takes fresh creativity and effort. More than a few things have changed, and we can count on steady twists and turns ahead.
Despite the uncertainty that our patients feel, they still need us, and most of them report minimal anxiety about returning for care; they’re trusting our protocols to keep them safe. But surveys still suggest nearly 15% of patients are delaying care until they’re vaccinated or feel more reassured.
No matter how you turn it, that’s a healthy cohort of our patients.
Many of our patient relationships simply need a little love. We serve retired Baby Boomers and attract Millennials who find us on the top of Google Maps with a “Find a dentist near me” search. Regardless of the demographic, every relationship needs some extra attention in 2021.
Nothing beats eye-to-eye connection, and we’ll get that opportunity with many of our established patients. But communication leverage occurs when we interject digital tools at all the right touchpoints along the way. While there’s a long list of possibilities on the Legwork single-solution platform, here are four that can bolster every relationship by next week:
1. Meeting in the clouds
Virtual interactions reached breakneck speed during 2020. For example, the most recent data from Zoom shows that the platform hosts 300 million daily meeting participants, compared to just 10 million in December 2019. Simultaneously, telehealth visits skyrocketed and aren’t expected to slow down–a 7-fold increase in usage is projected through 2025.
In other words, we need to capitalize on the consumer’s extended embrace of virtual communication in healthcare. Teledentistry offers paradigm-breaking opportunities on many levels. At a minimum, it gives patients a communication channel that’s become familiar and safe. A virtual meeting removes barriers and lets us connect with patients that might otherwise stay away from the office indefinitely.
Legwork Teledental solves a vital access issue to keep relationships alive, introduce us to new patients, and help our patients love our practices even more. A secure virtual space tied into the same platform that manages the rest of our relationship activities makes getting together seamless.
2. Show how much you care
Pandemic or not, people tend to feel anxious about dental visits. Nearly 20% of people report moderate to high dental anxiety, and the world’s current state amplifies underlying tension. People admit to anxiety disorder symptoms at three times the comparable periods a year earlier, and the lingering emotional effects of the pandemic won’t disappear overnight.
Our patients always need to know we care. But they need it more than ever now.
Contacting patients before their appointments does two things: 1) it allows us to gather detailed information to personalize their experience, and 2) just as importantly, it makes a hefty deposit in their emotional bank accounts. This point of contact sends a message that we care and that we’re intent on helping them feel comfortable.
Legwork Comfort Surveys does something that appeals to every generation by essentially asking, “What can we do for you?” Plus, it makes the process consistent and straightforward through the automated delivery of a pre-visit online survey. Patients love the care and concern, their anxiety drops a notch, and your practice earns priceless loyalty.
3. Don’t miss a beat with texting
Imagine a world without texting. Can’t do it, right? For most demographics, quick text messages define essential communication. Americans check their phone 47 times a day, and they’re generally comfortable receiving SMS notifications from brands, too. Furthermore, 54% of people say they’re frustrated when they can’t communicate with businesses via text.
Few small businesses are equipped to communicate via text with customers, but those that do report high customer satisfaction . And many of the companies that use texting campaigns rely on one-way marketing messages. When patients find two-way texting at a dental office, it elevates our status and our relationships with them.
Legwork 2-Way Texting differentiates our practices and gives consumers precisely what they want. Desktop notifications with incoming messages allow our teams to handle messages quickly and focus on other tasks. Plus, a log of conversations is always at their fingertips for reference. Texting gives patients just one more reason to love our practices.
4. Know before the conversation begins
Texting fits quick communication on the fly, but sometimes there’s nothing like a phone call. Patients need detailed information that requires a back-and-forth conversation or just want to interact with a real person. While those under age 35 might prefer texting, in-person calls offer multiple benefits.
Statistics show that a well-handled phone call can be a shorter exchange than the same conversation conducted by text, email, or chat. Calls offer an opportunity for dental teams to demonstrate empathy and quick problem-solving. Finally, patients with visual or dexterity issues find phone calls more manageable than text communications.
But calls also open the door to frustration. Two-thirds of callers say they’ll hang up if they’re on hold for more than two minutes . And if we’re trying to upgrade to first-class service, putting patients on-hold doesn’t make the best impression.