You have a patient due to come in for a regular cleaning. But—surprise—she canceled at the last moment, and you know she's never coming back. Want to avoid the phenomenon of the magically-vanishing patient? Incisor digs into the five biggest reasons people switch from one dentist to another—and how to avoid them.
1. Lack of phone etiquette
Whether a patient is calling in for the first time or has been with your practice for years, it’s important to make him or her feel welcome. This means no bait and switch: If the person answering the phones is courteous and kind the first time, they should be equally so for the third, fourth and even tenth phone call. Keeping a patient requires just as much effort as obtaining a patient.
Avoid putting patients on hold at all costs. If you must put them on hold, first explain why. Everyone has to wait at some point, but knowing why and for how long does wonders in terms of tolerance level. Remember that as a DOCS Education member, you have access to free phone training for your staff. This online course is full of practical tips to ensure your front office staff hits just the right note.
2. Relationships are not developed
Who doesn’t like talking about #1?
Combining stellar dentistry with a genuine interest in your patient’s life creates comfort, and that goes a long way with patients. How can you go about developing a relationship with patients? Start up conversations with them before and after their appointments. Ask them about their families, dogs, recent win at the local ping-pong championship—something that shows you're interested in them. Sure, exceptional dentistry can’t be found everywhere—but neither can authenticity.
3. The practice environment is not welcoming
Dental offices can be intimidating but that doesn’t mean your practice can’t pull a 10 in the atmosphere department. Being personable is powerful. Be kind. Be delightful. Be sharp. Be smart. Even something as simple as offering coffee or tea in the waiting room makes a points— as does keeping that unruly stack of magazines current.
Fact: It’s counterintuitive, but the magazine trick may be the most difficult. The reason your People and Time issues are perpetually outdated: According to a study published by Auckland University, the new ones are statistically doomed to be stolen.
4. Your practice doesn’t address a patient’s concerns
Maybe a patient has a concern about scheduling or billing. Maybe the anesthetic is taking longer than they anticipated to wear off.
Regardless of the nature of their concern, it’s important to address it with legitimate initiative. It may or may not be something you can fix. What matters even more, however, is that you and your team members approach these concerns with sincerity. Attitude alone displays to the patient that your practice takes customer service seriously, decreasing the chances the patient will march off to the dentist down the street.
5. The patient has to wait for an appointment
Sometimes people have to wait. That’s life. However, for new patients especially, it is important to book them as soon as possible. Chances are, if they’re calling your office in the first place, they already have a pressing need to receive dental treatment.
Have your front office team do everything in their power to ensure there is always room for new patients sooner rather than later. (And for all patients, really.)
By combining the five points above with unmatched dentistry chops, it’s a safe bet you’ll lose fewer and fewer patients to Dr. Down-the-street.
The information contained in this, or any case study post in Incisor should never be considered a proper replacement for necessary training and/or education regarding adult oral conscious sedation. Regulations regarding sedation vary by state. This is an educational and informational piece. DOCS Education accepts no liability whatsoever for any damages resulting from any direct or indirect recipient's use of or failure to use any of the information contained herein. DOCS Education would be happy to answer any questions or concerns mailed to us at 106 Lenora Street, Seattle, WA 98121. Please print a copy of this posting and include it with your question or request.