Patients choose to stay with a dental practice for different reasons. As a solo or small practice, you want to stand out for the right reasons so you can retain happy and loyal patients. Let’s unpack the reasons why patients stay with a dental practice and why they might choose to leave.
If you Googled the top reasons why patients switch dentists, you’d be surprised to see that the most common reasons why patients leave a practice have nothing to do with the clinical aspect of a practice. By and large, the top reasons why patients become dissatisfied with a practice are in areas that can be easily improved with better communication and a personalized patient experience.
Three Steps to Better Communication
We all know that a significant segment of the population doesn’t like going to the dentist or even actively avoids going out of fear or anxiety. These feelings can stem from a previous bad experience like a painful procedure, an expensive bill, or perhaps a rude staff member.
Somewhere along the way, that patient had such a bad experience at a dentist’s office (hopefully not yours) that they would rather avoid going to the dentist altogether. The reality is, there are dentists and staff members who give patients a terrible experience. The good news is that’s why you can set your practice apart by giving patients a great experience.
Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient or “EQ,” is a person’s ability to perceive, use, understand, manage, and handle emotions. In the context of your solo or small dental practice, it’s about perceiving and understanding the emotions of your patients, your staff, and yourself so that you can build better dentist to patient relationships over time.
Here’s what you can do as a solo dentist to change a patient’s perception about visiting the dentist. Consistent positive experiences at your office are what help build long-term relationships with patients. To do that, you have to communicate with emotional intelligence and personalize the patient experience, counterintuitively, through the use of technology to engage with patients.
Communicating With Emotional Intelligence
- Listen to understand: Take a moment to ask how things are going: work, family, updates, etc. It doesn’t hurt to jot down notes in their file so you can ask about new developments at their next appointment. If it’s been a while since they’ve been to the dentist and seem concerned, let them know that you and your team are there to help them feel comfortable. Maybe they’re worried that a procedure might be painful, or they could be concerned about the cost of a procedure. Asking questions with a sincere intent to help is what patients want to see from their dentists.
- Engage to help: Once you have had a chance to chat with your patient and you’ve helped identify their concerns, you can then shift the conversation towards ways to help. Take the time to explain a procedure or break down the payment/financing options.
- Guide to lead: As dentists understand, oral health is vital for overall health. Help patients understand why their decision to come in for appointments is so beneficial. You, as the dentist, are there to guide them for the long haul, so encourage patients to ask questions and take time to answer and help them understand, so they feel invested in their own oral and overall health.
Personalizing The Patient Experience
Just like each dentist provides a different experience, each patient, too, is different. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dentistry. Personalizing the experience is something that we’ve come to expect in the modern digital age. For example, Netflix not only offers personalized suggestions of what movie viewers should watch next based on their viewing history, they even have a library of thumbnails for each movie, and they will show you a thumbnail that’s likely to appeal to you, again, based on your own viewing history. This is the kind of highly personalized experience we’ve come to expect.
Your job as a solo or small practice is to connect with patients and understand them so you can offer this same level of personalized experience.
A strong dentist-to-patient relationship is built over time through numerous touchpoints and interactions. These could be a quick follow-up call after a procedure to check in with a patient, or it could be offering appointment times based on their previous preferences instead of asking if they’re available for appointment times that they’ve historically always declined.
Other ways to personalize their experience could be scheduling family member appointments altogether, so they don’t have to come in for multiple appointments or offer different payment options. Perhaps they’re busy during work hours and don’t have time to schedule an appointment over the phone and would much prefer booking appointments online after hours on your website. It could be that your office is known for always being as accurate as possible with estimates, so the patient never experiences unpleasant surprises when they see the final bill.
Each of these suggestions is geared towards increasing convenience and enhancing the patient experience for your patient to help reduce the barrier of receiving dental treatment. As technology advances, these personalized interactions that were previously too burdensome for practices can now be automated and streamlined for your staff.
Unlocking Patient Engagement With Technology
Not so intuitively, technology holds the key to unlocking patient engagement for solo practices. With the right technology, you don’t need a large team to engage with your patients efficiently and effectively. In fact, all the suggested personalized interactions suggested above can largely be automated through our practice management solution, Denticon.
With an all-in-one practice management solution, solo and small practices can deliver the personalized experience patients now expect from dental practices.
Denticon features include:
- Family scheduling lets you stack appointments for families for added convenience for your patients and maximum efficiency for your practice
- Online scheduling: to let your patients schedule appointments at their own convenience
- Online registration: lets your patient complete forms ahead of time, saving them hassle at your practice
- CareCredit integration: automatically identifies patients who have an existing CareCredit account or are preapproved
- Native patient communications: communicate via text and email help busy patients keep track of appointments for fewer missed or late appointments
- Highly accurate estimates so patients don’t experience sticker shock when they see the final bill
Chat with our team member today to find out how Denticon’s features let your solo practice do more to build long-term relationships with your patients. We can’t wait to share how Denticon can help you deliver the best possible patient experience.