patient communication


3 Modern Patient Communication Tools for Dentists

by Naomi Cooper April 11, 2016

Did you know the cost of attracting a new patient to the dental practice is five times higher than the cost of keeping an existing patient? While much of the focus of dental practice marketing is on external activities designed to bring new patients in, patient retention is equally as important for the longevity of the dental practice.

dental patient communication

Good communication goes a long way in creating loyal patients. Modern technology such as text message appointment reminders make patients’ lives easier in our always on-the-go society, and they help to simplify daily office processes for the front desk team as well.

Here are 3 tools dentists can use to boost their ongoing patient communication:

  1. Automated processes: E-communication tools like appointment reminders, custom emails, online patient portals make it easier than ever to stay in touch with patients in between office visits.
  1. Post-appointment surveys: Getting patient opinions following an appointment not only helps highlight any inefficiencies in the practice but also provides an ongoing source of positive feedback.
  1. Online Patient Reviews: Ask patients to post those positive patient comments online so that prospective patients can get a good feel of the practice before their first appointment.

4 Ways to Keep Dental Patients Happy in the New Consumer Culture

by Naomi Cooper October 7, 2015

Happy dental patientTo paraphrase Chaucer, if “time waits for no man,” then it also stands to reason that time waits for no dental practice, either. Thanks to tech-savvy consumers and consumer rating sites like Yelp, Healthgrades and Angie’s List, patients now have a plethora of information about your practice, all just a click away.

Make sure what patients are saying online about your practice is positive, and it all starts with patient satisfaction. Since keeping consumers happy is often a game of “what have you done for me lately?”, make sure you’re continuously doing things that show patients that they’re your top priority.

Dr. Marvin W. Berlin discusses this “new consumer culture in dentistry” in great detail in the August issue of Dental Economics. Dr. Berlin dives deep into the “consumerism shift,” discussing its causes and many effects. There are many ways to successfully navigate the intersection of dentistry and today’s online world, but the following tips are at the top of the list.

  1. Be willing to do what others won’t. This may be obvious, but it is essential for your practice to try things that make you stand out from your competition online. Whether that means having a flawless, user-friendly website, shooting videos or generating chatter via social media contests, you always want to be sure that your practice is one step ahead of the rest by doing things that other practices in your area aren’t.
  1. Provide patient education. “Shopper culture,” as Dr. Berlin puts it, has given rise to more comparison shopping: consumers are always looking for the most cost-effective, time-saving option. Now that everyone has instant access to a world of information online, it’s important for your website, social media and online profiles to be a patient’s best resource for dental information. Not only should your content be informative and accurate, but it should detail the services you provide and why they’re important to short- and long-term health. Also, by utilizing online tools such as streaming video and slideshows, you can show patients exactly how you can benefit them, and not just tell them.
  1. Stay active online. Other than dispensing valuable information in a crisp, good-looking package, your website and social media pages should act as hubs for your dental community to interact. Spice up your online presence by sharing interesting articles, facts or even dental-related jokes. Simple posts like these don’t take much time and can help generate conversation and make your patients take an active interest in your practice.
  1. Provide modern accommodations. For many, a trip to the dentist’s office is considered a chore. Anything you can do to make your patients feel better about the whole experience the second they walk in the door is greatly appreciated. Providing free access to WiFi and charging stations for smartphones and tablets can go a long way toward making your patients feel at home and cared for.

With so many opportunities available to leverage technology to help grow your dental practice and keep your patients happy, there’s no excuse not to use them. Being unique, user-friendly and accessible online takes a bit of work, but it will all be worth it just to see the smiles on your patients’ faces – emoji or otherwise.


The Secret to Finding Your Ideal Patients

by Naomi Cooper June 10, 2015

The Secret to Finding Your Ideal PatientsThere’s a pervasive myth permeating dentistry today – the myth of the ideal patient. Every doctor is looking for what I like to call “unicorn patients”: patients with money burning holes in their pockets, ready to spend it on dentistry, but for some reason who just haven’t found the right doctor yet. The problem with this concept is patients with large budgets who value dentistry most likely already have a trusted dentist. Not only is the ideal patient myth unrealistic, it’s not doing you any favors to wait around for these unicorns. It’s an unrealistic ideal and it causes you to overlook an untapped resource – your current patients!

In fact, your ideal patients actually do exist – and they’re already in your practice. All you have to do is take the time to mold them into becoming model patients. Here are a few tips:

  • Improve communication: Asking one simple question can help open the doctor-patient lines of communication: “If there was one thing you could change about your smile, what would it be?” It’s a great conversation starter that helps reveal your patients’ motivations which then allows you to better tailor your treatment recommendations to their ultimate goals.
  • Establish trust: As Dr. Paul Homoly explains, patients will accept treatment when they’re ready. Understand that a “no” often means “not right now”.  It’s the job of the dentist and staff to explain to patients what treatment they need and why, and to continually reinforce that message every time they are in the practice so that when patients are ready to proceed, they’ll know who to turn to.
  • Make dentistry affordable: Offer various payment options in order to make care as affordable as possible to as many patients as possible. Financing solutions like Comprehensive Finance help more patients say yes to treatment they need but may not necessarily have the means to pay out of pocket for. In-house savings plan companies like Quality Dental Plan help make patients feel like they are welcome in the practice even if they don’t have insurance.

Your patients demonstrate their trust in you by keeping their routine appointments. They exhibit their loyalty every time they refer others to the practice. The concept of the perfect patient may not be realistic, but making the most of existing opportunities will help turn your existing base into your own collection of ideal patients.


Dental Marketing: 5 Steps for Asking for Patient Referrals and Online Reviews

by Naomi Cooper March 11, 2015

Dental Marketing: 5 Steps for Asking for Patient Referrals and Online ReviewsAsking a patient to refer others to your practice can seem daunting. Some dentists find it too “salesy”; some just aren’t sure how to comfortably broach the subject within patient conversations. While it may not be easy at first, asking for referrals is a critical component of any successful dental practice.

The best time to ask for a referral is when a patient gives you or your team a compliment. You know they are satisfied, making the process that much easier.

  1. Thank them for their recognition. Thank you so much!
  2. Make a statement about the practice that shows their experience wasn’t an accident. It’s our goal to exceed our patients’ expectations so they have an experience just like yours.
  3. Then compliment them. And we appreciate having patients just like you!
  4. Ask for the referral. We are always accepting new patients so if you know of anyone who would appreciate the same kind of care you feel you’ve received in our practice, I would appreciate it if you told them about us and your positive experience. 
  5. Don’t forget about online reviews too, especially for those patients whose smartphones are glued to the palms of their hands throughout their dental appointment. I’ve noticed how tech-savvy you are – would you mind sharing your experience on Yelp/Google/Healthgrades?

That doesn’t seem too terribly difficult, does it? Practice makes perfect, so be sure that the entire team has the verbal skills and comfort level needed in order to help generate as many patient referrals as possible.

Word of mouth remains to be the best form of marketing there is, not to mention the most cost effective. Boost word of mouth for your practice and make a committed effort to make asking for patient referrals and online reviews a habit for the entire team.


Dental Practice Success: Lessons to Be Learned from a Top Online Retailer

by Naomi Cooper February 25, 2015

Dental Practice Success: Lessons to Be Learned from a Top Online RetailerHave you heard of Zappos? You are likely aware of this online retail giant, even if you haven’t ordered any shoes or clothing from them yourself. The company boasts an annual revenue upwards of $1 billion dollars. Success on that level doesn’t come from doing what everyone else is doing.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is quoted as saying “Zappos is a customer service company that just happens to sell shoes”, and that quote says a lot about the company culture with a committed focus on the customer experience.

Customer-friendly perks like free shipping, 24-7 customer service and a 365-day return policy have made Zappos one of the most liked and widely used retailers to date. A blog from the Productive Dentist Academy recently examined the customer-centric focus of Zappos and examined what exactly dentists could do to leverage the same type of culture in their practices.

Consider your own practice for a moment. How would you describe the office culture around your customer service? Dentists can offer the latest techniques & technology or build a shiny new office, but without top-notch customer service, patients will likely leave less than impressed. Shoes and dentistry may not have much in common at first glance, but when it comes to service delivery, there are certainly lessons we can all learn from one another!


Is Your Dental Practice Marketing a Waste of Money?

by Naomi Cooper January 28, 2015

Is Your Dental Practice Marketing a Waste of Money?Dental marketing is not limited solely to bringing new patients into the practice. In fact, it encompasses the entire patient experience from the moment they begin their online research, to their first appointment through follow up and beyond.

Many dentists initially fail to see a positive return on their marketing investment and over time begin to wonder if their marketing is a waste of time and money. So, before spending any more cash, it is worthwhile to take the time to review the following internal processes, which can ultimately make or break a practice’s marketing efforts.

  1. Verbal Skills Training – Every staff member who interacts with patients is part of the marketing effort in that they are all contributing to the overall patient experience.
  1. Appointing New Patients – A phone ringing off the hook is a good sign that the external marketing is working well. Keep that momentum moving by prioritizing new patient phone calls. Aim to schedule new patients within 1-3 days of their initial call.
  1. New Patient Communication – New patients do not yet have loyalty to the practice. Help establish a relationship with them by tailoring communication with them. Welcome new patients to the practice with an introductory letter or new patient package, avoid using too much clinical language when speaking with them, and start a two-way conversation to build trust.
  1. Tracking Results – It’s impossible to know if a marketing tactic is effective or not if no one is measuring its ROI, or return on investment. The front desk team should always ask every new caller how he or she heard about the practice, and record that information in order to find out what marketing efforts result in both phone calls and first appointments.

External marketing is important for practice growth, but don’t forget about the internal processes that support it!