There are reasons people seek dentistry. And there are reasons you’re able to be there for them when they do. It has everything to do with your strategy for acquiring…and keeping new patients.
At the intersection of a potential new patient’s search for dental care and your presence in the community you serve is a two-fold result.
- 1. A new patient finds a solution for their dental needs
- 2. You acquire a new patient with a potential for influencing their lifetime dental care
Standing-out in a crowded space
In certain seasons (such as 2020s pandemic) it could appear that dentistry is in a decline. And especially as relates to new practice growth and patient demand for dental care.
Whether the market is saturated or those seeking dentistry appear to be in a period of decline—one thing remain
Competition for new patients!
Creating a stand-out dental practice or dental organization requires you to provide outstanding care but also care that’s a few steps ahead of the “pack” in terms of new patient acquisition (and retention) strategy.
Four strategies for acquiring and keeping new patients
1. Understand how patient communication works in today’s culture
Just because you’re “talking” doesn’t mean you’re communicating. And even though you’re focused on someone doesn’t mean you’re listening or actually hearing what they’re saying.
Within that perspective are two keys to effective patient communication.
- 1. Communicating something of value so you’re heard above-the-noise
- 2. Listening strategically so you know what to communicate that will be heard above-the-noise
Communication happens with “words” (strategy) and the ears (engagement).
New patients will be attracted to your practice(s) when they believe they’re being heard relative to their pain, problem, fears, health goals, etc.
- Evaluate your “language” and narrative across every department. Confirm that you’re communicating “with” every patient…not “at” them - on the phone, in person, and online.
- Allow for push-back on appointment availability, case presentations, and financial discussions. Let your patients know that you hear them, and you’re not merely attempting to “sell” dentistry.
- Welcome and request feedback through online reviews, surveys, and social media comments.
2. Start building the relationship on your first encounter
You’ve heard that “you get one chance to make a first impression.” Managing the impression you make on new patients is about ongoing engagement.
Keep in mind that today’s first encounters with your practice(s) is most likely online. Digital first impressions are key to attracting new patients and building a long-term relationship with them.
- Tour your website(s) from the perspective a new patient. Is it current/up-to-date? Is it easy to navigate? Is it mobile responsive? Is it optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
- Train your team(s) on their tone, vibe, etiquette, responsiveness to questions/problems, courtesy, and kindness. These might seem reflexive but to make an outstanding first impression will require some additional training.
- Utilize patient-facing features of your project management software if you can. Letting patients complete forms and schedule appointments online is part of making their first impression with your practice as seamless and easy as possible.
3. Be a feedback “junkie”
Part of your strategic communication loop is asking for, processing, and using feedback to your advantage. Every interaction with a potential new patient provides you/your team the opportunity to evaluate any feedback they provide.
But you have to routinely ask for it!
Be prepared to process the positives as well as the negatives.
- Use online forms, text, email, and even a phone call to launch a feedback “loop” with new patients.
- Let patients know that you’re interested in their opinion, input, and feedback however they’re prepared to serve it up. This communicates that you’re responsive and respectful of them individually.
- Craft questions that produce a specific response rather than generic “how’d we do…” etc. And align your team(s) around your feedback questions to acquire accurate information from each new patient.
- Transition each review into a solution. Avoid dwelling on problems associated with negative feedback. Mine it for how to improve.
- Process negative feedback with patients first and subsequently among your team. Seek a solution rather than being defensive.
4. Be present, consistent, and useful on social media
Just because you have social media buttons on your website is no guarantee you’re engaging with new patients. A large percentage of new patients are likely to find you on a particular social media platform…and start a dialogue there.
Being random, dated, or perceived as out-of-touch on social media can be a strike against you, especially these days with new patients. Equally so, the wrong kind of social media activity can be a detriment.
- Create and share content that presents your practice(s) as a “friendly,” “inviting” authority in dentistry.
- Balance promotional and/or ad-based content with informative (organic) content that answers questions and solves problems new patients have about/with their oral health.
- Curate and share content in tandem with your own (original) blog content, etc.
- Reveal that you respect privacy (HIPAA) and patient security by avoiding content that’s patient-personal, distasteful (procedure images, etc), and overtly technical/clinical.
Engage with new patients and create a lifetime patient experience
Acquiring new patients involves specific strategies. But retaining them requires a well-equipped dental practice management platform.
The more patient-facing the better your patient relationships, including new patients.
Consider a cloud-based solution and improve your practice efficiency and new patient engagement…
You might find the cloud solution like Denticon to be a more seamless and low maintenance platform…
- Built-in patient-facing modules
- Monthly subscription rate that’s predictable
- Data hosted in the cloud that’s remotely and securely accessible
- Savings compared with a “legacy” system can total an average of 40%
It makes sense to look below the surface and see the massive potential of upgrading to a cloud-based dental practice management solution.
Your patient care will likely improve. Your team efficiency will likely increase. And you’ll be able to innovate when necessary as dentistry evolves now and in the future.