Much has been said about improving user experience. Whether it’s a financial services company making online transactions easier or an airline making the check-in process a breeze, any business can make customers “stickier” by making it unlikely they will walk away.
The same holds true for dental practices. A 2017 study found that the majority of dental patients would not recommend their current dentist to others. Using a Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale of 0 to 10, a survey of 2,000 dental patients resulted in an NPS of 1. There’s room for improvement!
What steps can you take that improve your patient’s experience so much that they will stick with your practice? The following eight tips are a good place to begin.
- Personalize the Greeting
As your patients step into the office, are they immediately greeted by name? Your staff – whether it’s one person or more – sets the tone for the patient’s experience in your office. Make sure they are trained to be dependable and responsible. Get your patients checked in promptly—their time is as valuable as your own. Ideally, there should be no wait, but for those times you run a bit off schedule, make sure your patient understands the timing. Offer a comfortable waiting room with current publications and beverages.
- Calm Nerves
Going to the dentist probably doesn’t top the list of fun things to do. Show empathy and establish rapport. Play relaxing music to help calm the nerves; if your software allows, offer your patients a selection. Imagine your practice as part dentistry and part spa. What else can you do to make the visit as relaxing as possible? Some possibilities include noise-canceling headphones, massage chairs, and padded treatment chairs. Continue to look for ways you can improve their experience and change your processes accordingly.
- Explain. And Then Explain Again.
Tell your patient exactly what will take place during the visit, and walk them through what you plan to do next. Offer plenty of opportunities to rinse out their mouths, if appropriate. If you see children, adjust your tone to make the child and parent comfortable.
- Make Checkout a Breeze
Schedule the next cleaning before your patient leaves the office, preferably while still in the dental chair. And don’t forget the goody bag. Who doesn’t like to receive a toothbrush and dental floss? What can you throw in that makes it more personal to your practice? People love telling others what they just received. Moreover, don’t forget the kids—offer a treasure trove of toys, so their experience is fun. Think of ways you can surprise and delight your patients.
Confirm that your software is up-to-date and offer as many options as you can for payment. Make it easy for your customers to pay at the end of the visit so you can avoid sending out invoices. Record payments and stay on top of any balances owed for patients with dental insurance. If you aren’t satisfied with your accounting software, work with your accounting professional to find the best software for your practice.
- Follow Up
If a patient has had a complicated procedure, follow up with a call that evening. Sure, it takes time, but a call goes a long way in instilling trust and showing your concern for the patient’s well-being. Consider a patient satisfaction survey after an appointment to ask about their experience. Ask what you can improve to meet their needs. Take advantage of marketing software that makes it easy to reach out to your customers via newsletters and reminders.
- Send Appointment Reminders
Make it easy for your patients to schedule and remember their appointments. At a minimum, take advantage of the array of friendly postcards or online customer management systems to keep customers on track. Even better, automated text messaging keeps patients on track to confirm or change appointments. Look at smartphone apps that allow patients to book appointments directly.
- Maintain a User-Friendly Website
Whether you have a robust website or a simple listing with contact information, make sure you keep it current. At a minimum, display a list of services offered and helpful links. Make sure the links work! If you have a contact form where patients can leave messages, follow up with them as quickly as possible. While you’re at it, why not ask satisfied patients to leave reviews online?
While many of these steps call for an investment in equipment and supplies, the return on your investment will be satisfied patients who will stay with your practice because their user experience exceeded their expectations. Satisfied customers rave about their experience with friends, family, and associates.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.