Patients for life

Patient service can make or break a dental office, and it's often overlooked in many cases. Most of the time, as consumers ourselves, we feel like an anonymous ticket that needs to be dealt with. Here's how to improve your dental patient retention.

When asked, most dentists will tell you that their patients are the number one priority. Sure, they can "talk the talk," but when it comes time to "walk the walk," how many actually deliver the type of remarkable care and service that will keep patients coming back for life?

Patient service can make or break a dental office, and it's often overlooked in many cases. Most of the time, as consumers ourselves, we feel like an anonymous ticket that needs to be dealt with. Your office should strive to make each patient feel as though he or she is the single most important facet of your interaction. Regardless of your industry, this mantra should serve as a guide to your customer service.

Patients will always remember whether your service was remarkably great or extraordinarily terrible. You clearly don't want to be remembered for the latter. If your team members go above and beyond to create a positive experience, patients will remember your office positively. On the other hand, negative experiences will not only cause you to lose patients, but you'll most likely garner some bad word of mouth along the way.

Word of mouth is the most powerful ally to have on your side. What your patients say to other people can have a big impact. According to a Global Trust in Advertising report conducted by Nielsen, which surveyed more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, "More than eight in 10 global respondents (83%) say they completely or somewhat trust the recommendations of friends and family. But trust isn't confined only to those in our inner circle. In fact, two-thirds (66%) say they trust consumer opinions posted online-the third-most-trusted format."1 Word of mouth is worth its weight in gold, and exceptional customer service will pay off in the short term and long run.

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These days, customers remain loyal to a company only if they have a very enticing reason. Recent advances in technology make every business global; there is always a competitor waiting if your patients decide to take their dental needs elsewhere. As a result, you have to work diligently to keep patients, building their trust in your brand.

That word of mouth we were just talking about? Well, it will also bring you new customers. These days, to succeed in any industry, you need to cater to new customers. These new customers don't want to be treated like an interruption to your day. They don't want to be another number in the queue to be dealt with. They want to be treated like people who want more from their experience. Exceptional customer service will give your new customers what they want. It really is that simple: treat your customer the way that you want to be treated.

When it comes to providing exceptional patient service, there is no one-size-fits-all method. Whether you take the traditional approach, a technological approach, or an "all hands on deck" approach, remain mindful of what your patients really want. It can make or break your success.

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Reference
1. Global trust in advertising: Winning strategies for an evolving media landscape. Nielsen website. https://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/nielsenglobal/apac/docs/reports/2015/nielsen-global-trust-in-advertising-report-september-2015.pdf. Published September 2015. Accessed October 6, 2016.


Rick Workman, DMD, is the founder of Heartland Dental. After practicing full-time, Dr. Workman created Heartland Dental, a world-class dental support organization, offering nonclinical administrative services to supported dentists. Heartland Dental has over 750 supported dental offices in 33 states. Dr. Workman may be reached at rworkman@heartland.com. Please visit Dr. Workman's blog at dentistryleaders.com.

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