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verbal skills

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How to Ask Your Dental Patients for Referrals

by Naomi Cooper December 1, 2016

How to Ask Dental Patients for Online ReviewsHappy patients are a dentist’s most valuable marketing assets! They already value your skills and trust your opinions, and best of all, they never hesitate recommending your office to everyone they know.

Check out my video to find out the best ways of communicating with patients to ensure they keep referring their friends and family to your practice now and into 2017!

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Dental Patient Communication: 4 Tips for Selling Your Services

by Naomi Cooper December 16, 2015

 4 ways to gauge your patients’ interest in cosmetic proceduresAs you work to attract and maintain more patients in the coming year, remember that people respond to different personal approaches. One aspect of the dentist/patient relationship that can be particularly difficult to navigate is how to offer comprehensive care without alienating your patients.

Here are 4 ways to gauge your patients’ interest in cosmetic procedures:

  • When a new patient comes for their first visit, conduct an intake survey. Ask about their interest in the various treatments and products you offer. You may want your patients to retake this survey every so often to be sure you are aware of any changes in their attitude towards elective treatments.
  • Talk with your patients. Ask them one specific question: If you could change one thing about your smile, what would it be? This helps get the conversation flowing and reveals to you what their motivations and goals are. Get a sense of how things are going. And if you get the impression that for whatever reason they may not be interested in a cosmetic treatment, trust your instincts and hold off on the hard sell.
  • Avoid pocketbook diagnosing. Don’t fall into the habit of holding yourself back from talking about elective procedures because you assume to know what they’re capable of spending based on what you know about them (i.e., they drive a luxury SUV or they’re in the middle of a messy divorce).
  • Conduct follow-up surveys with your patients. Find out if their visit was a positive one. Ask for feedback on how to improve their experience and use that feedback to inform how you approach each patient at their next visit.

While your skills as a dentist will bring patients in, it is important to remember that your chairside manner will keep them coming back. Listening to your patients and asking for feedback will go a long way toward improving patient communication, retaining patients and attracting more referrals in 2016 and beyond.

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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!

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6 Ways to Improve Your Internal Marketing 

by Naomi Cooper October 7, 2014

6 Ways to Improve Your Internal Marketing When dentists hear the word marketing, they often think of external marketing and promoting their dental practices to the public. When it comes to increasing new patient flow, sometimes you don’t have to look any further than your existing patient base.

Internal marketing focuses on building long-term relationships and instilling trust and loyalty in patients. This is accomplished through strong communication skills, starting with the front desk, the hygiene and dental teams, and even ongoing communication after the patient leaves.

I recently wrote an article on this very subject for Dental Products Report6 Simple Steps to Elevate Your Internal Marketing. With the right internal marketing processes in place, your best patients can also be your best advertising.

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Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone Call

by Naomi Cooper May 21, 2014

Dental Marketing: The All-Important First Phone CallOften when consulting with my dentist clients, the focus is on attracting new patients, which of course is an important part of dental practice growth. But I caution my clients before they ever spend any money on external marketing efforts, they need to be absolutely sure they and their staff already have solid internal processes in place.

Simply put, the dollars spent to attract new patients through external marketing efforts can end up going to waste if effective marketing processes and strong verbal communication skills are not in place. After all, why go to all the trouble and expense to make the phone ring if the person answering the phone doesn’t have the ability to turn a caller into a patient?

Often a new patient’s first contact with the dentist and the practice is during the initial phone call to find out about the practice, and possibly to make an appointment. The front desk team needs to be able to effectively communicate with new patients and address all questions and concerns, as well as schedule appointments in a timely manner.

The first phone call is a critical time: the prospective patient is sizing the practice up, and this interaction needs to be handled delicately. So what can the front desk team do during the call to ensure success?

Find out in my most recent article published in Inside Dentistry: Growing the Dental Practice Through Patient Communication.

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Adopting the Marketing Mindset at Your Dental Practice

by Naomi Cooper February 18, 2014

Adopting the Marketing Mindset at Your Dental PracticeThe term “Marketing” is often associated with external advertising, or activities aimed at attracting new patients to the practice, and while this is certainly an important part of the marketing process, it doesn’t paint the entire picture. In fact, to start growing your practice, you may not have to look any further than your current patient base. When working with my clients, there’s a common piece of advice I always give: Don’t forget about internal marketing!

Internal marketing is the art of establishing relationships with current patients so that they decide to become ambassadors for your practice, referring friends and family to you. Internal marketing drives word of mouth and while it doesn’t cost a lot of money, it can pay off big time in the form of short-term practice viability and long-term sustainability.

I sometimes hear from my clients that asking their patients for referrals (or online reviews) can be intimidating or even uncomfortable. But when you have the right mindset – what I call the “Marketing Mindset” – asking for referrals and reviews becomes an easy and natural part of the day. And remember – while internal marketing isn’t difficult, it does require training on the parts of the doctors and staff. We all have to remember that verbal skills like asking patients for referrals do not necessarily come naturally, but need to be taught – and that just as with clinical skills, practice makes perfect!

With some practice, asking for referrals will no longer feel awkward or “sales-y”, but instead will become a habit…and a good habit, at that.