From the moment a person becomes your patient, they have certain expectations of your practice. Depending on whether you meet, exceed, or fall short of their expectations will affect the patient’s impression of your practice. Let’s look at how your practice can delight your patient at every encounter.
From Meeting Expectations to Exceeding Expectations
Patients form their impression about your dental practice even before they enter your facility. It’s also important to understand that the patient experience covers more territory than your practice’s physical address.
The onsite experience is perhaps the easiest to monitor. However, patients begin to form an impression the moment your team answers the phone, replies to an email or text message, or engages with you on social media.
Ask yourself, should your goal be to merely meet a patient’s expectations or to exceed them? Perhaps they left another practice after a disappointing experience? Finding out what they expect can be as easy as having a quick conversation about what brought them to your practice and why.
Once you’ve understood their expectations, you can then move beyond merely “managing” patient expectations to “exceeding” their expectations.
How to Exceed Expectations in Patient Experience
One of the core ways to delight your patient is to make them think:
“They know me!”
So, let’s start there and personalize the patient experience around a few related patient expectations.
“You know who I am!”
Getting to know patients beyond their chart and weaving those details into subsequent conversations are powerful ways to exceed expectations within the patient experience. It’s about recognizing more than their appointed dental visit.
Each patient seeks dental care for a couple of reasons: to improve their health, protect their teeth and gums, and to avoid pain. However, the way each patient experiences dental care at your practice, will lead to them either becoming a long-term patient or looking for a new dental practice. That’s why it’s important to get to know your patients.
There’s more, of course, but however they experience dentistry helps you know each patient personally – and in their experience with your practice.
- Get to know your patients individually. Step away from the database and step into their life.
- Learn something unique about each patient. Keep notes, review them before going chair side, and reference something of interest in your treatment related conversation with them.
- Build trust around more than just your dental expertise. A patient who feels noticed, understood, and valued will extend more levels of trust – and be willing to refer that trust to others.
“You Value My Comfort and Time!”
Like it or not, patients have a “love-hate” relationship with dentistry. They love being out of pain and enjoying a healthy, attractive smile. At the same time, they can “hate” the anxiety, potential discomfort, and time and money investment associated with a dental visit.
Your expertise prevents you from cutting-corners and rushing a dental procedure. That’s why it matters that you invest in the technology that provides a comfortable and time-efficient patient experience.
Comfort preferences might differ patient to patient. Being aware of each patient’s expectations for discomfort/pain and their tolerance levels is another way you can exceed their expectations.
The same applies to respecting their time. Some patients are sticklers for getting in and out of their appointment. Others go with the flow and don’t stress when wait times or a procedure takes longer than expected. Exceed their expectations by:
- Providing online/digital options for necessary forms and accessing appointment related information.
- Piquing their interest during pre-appointment wait-times. Use informative and entertaining media, give them onsite access to free WiFi, and create a mood-enhancing environment (e.g. seating, low-volume music, non-irritating scents, etc.) in your reception area.
- Streamline your appointments using a cloud-based practice management solution
“You Know How to ‘Connect’ with Me!”
Patient communication is one thing. Knowing a patient’s preferred method for communication is another.
It’s about options like online scheduling, email, web, text, and social media. Patients have communication preferences that give insight into how to best connect with them.
Their general expectation is that you will show-up on their preferred channels of communication. Be flexible and open to adapt your patient experience to them.
Connecting with your patients also involves keeping them informed about dental trends, answering their questions one-on-one and through useful content, and being prepared to provide the reasons for your diagnosis plus the benefits of a particular treatment.
- Create patient-facing portals on your dental practice website for online scheduling, teledentistry visits, real-time chat, payments, insurance, and social media engagement.
- Communicate follow-up, relevant promotions, appointment availability, practice upgrades, and more via routine, brief email and text messages.
- Encourage education and increase treatment acceptance and oral health awareness through blog content and social media posts.
A word about phone communication – be phone friendly but also aware that phone conversations (for many) are secondary to text, email, and online chat. And if you leave voicemails – be brief, benefit-focused, and action-oriented.
Remember, patient connection starts with knowing how your patients prefer communication from your practice. Be committed to learning their preferences and respecting them.
The following resources can help you refine your patient experience and exceed patient expectations:
Create Loyal Patients by Improving the Patient Experience
How to Improve Your Chairside Manner and Create an Elevated Dental Patient Experience
Patient Data Gives You Insight Into Their Expectations and How You Can Improve Your Patient Experience
The patient experience improves when you get more intentional with understanding your patient’s expectations. In many instances that relies on how you manage your patient data.
You might find a cloud solution like Denticon to be effective for data monitoring and overall dental practice management.
Contact us for a free demo to find out how Denticon can help you consistently and easily exceed your patient’s expectations.