Two elements drive your dental practice or DSO success. There are business elements and there are customer (patient) service elements. Improving the patient experience and creating patient loyalty is a synergy of both.
Think of patient experience as that you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of occurrence. But creating and maintaining that response requires intentionality.
Why improving patient experience is a big deal
Your patients (like the general public) are accustomed to high levels of consumer satisfaction. Social media has increased the ability to immediately approve or disapprove of a product or service.
And as you know, people are quick to let you know when you did good…and did not so good!
Even so, their perception can be challenged or altered depending on the way you manage and scale the experience you create.
And then there’s patient loyalty. These days it’s connected to the patient experience through a variety of engaging factors.
- Parking and curb-appeal
- Reception/waiting area atmosphere and amenities
- Interactions with front-desk team
- Chair-side interactions
- Consultations pre- and post treatment
- Protocols for check-out, treatment and financial presentations, re-appointment, and follow-up
Manage this well and you’ll likely create a memorable patient experience—one that could lead to loyal patient relationships.
How to improve the patient experience and create long-term patient loyalty
Know what patients expect and “meet” them there
Empathy is a good quality to bring to every patient interaction. It’s important not to assume that patients have the same affinity for dentistry that you (as a professional) do.
It’s easy to make the assumption that everyone wants to or should value their oral health. As you know, many put off their oral care and only schedule an appointment when a problem arises.
Yet, there are many more who understand the systemic connection between their oral and general health. Or they have specifics in mind about their smile appearance and/or maintaining its health.
Either patient scenario will benefit from being intentional with the patient experience.
- Start with clear and compelling communication about their oral health needs, goals, and…expectations
- Help them establish a routine around those goals and expectations
- Maintain an open channel of communication that challenges unhealthy expectations while engaging them around the positive
- Avoid patient communication that sounds “salesy” or manipulative
Set the right vibe throughout your practice culture
Recall that “know-it-when-you-feel-it” idea earlier mentioned. That’s what you’re wanting.
Positive patient experience has much to do with the tone or atmosphere of your practice. Realize that many expect your practice to feel clinical or sterile.
Again, that’s why your practice atmosphere is established before they actually enter. It starts with the vibe they get from their first phone or virtual interaction. They’ll also be able to pick up on your vibe the moment they drive up.
- Create a lighthearted mood that helps them relax and anticipate a good experience
- Use consistent decor and theming throughout to make patients comfortable
- Make improvements that reflect their reviews, feedback, or verbal affirmations about your practice
Be all-about first impressions
This follows an emphasis on your practice vibe. Remember that patients have already formed an opinion or expectation from their first interaction with you/your team.
First impressions, like other strategies, rely on being intentional.
- Routinely train and track your team’s “first-impression” phone skills
- Audit your dental practice website for easy navigation, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), informational value, etc.
- Communicate in a compelling, conversational tone via all your text (SMS), email, or direct mail content
A first-impression mindset is an effective benchmark for all of your practice processes. The better you create and manage it, the better your patient experience.
Establish your influence and authority by being intuitive and useful
There’s a lot of dental information available. Most of it online and accessible via search.
How much of that available information (localized) is connected to your practice?
Patient experience that produces loyalty will improve the more you influence their oral health decisions. And the more useful you are because you tap into their questions or related problems the better.
Influence and authority (these days) includes the quality of your informative communication.
- Provide a stream of consistent content via your blog, social media channels, emails, and text message links.
- Conduct surveys to harvest questions and problems your patients have. And provide expert solutions through published content.
- Encourage (and train) your team members to listen for content “seeds” within the questions and problems your patients share.
Patient experience improves when you get more intentional with your intuition. In many instances that relies on how you manage your patient data.
Consider a cloud-based solution and improve your data management…and ultimately your patient experience
You might find the cloud solution like Denticon to be a more efficient report gathering platform to monitor and drive your overall dental practice or dental organization’s performance.
- A predictable, monthly subscription rate
- Data hosted in the cloud that’s remotely and securely accessible
- Savings that compared with a “legacy” system can total an average of 40%