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The Ultimate Guide to Patient Retention for Dental Practices

smiling dental patient at the reception desk

First Impressions Are Key

Making a lasting positive first impression can go a long way with patients, as friendly and efficient care can turn an uncomfortable experience at least mildly enjoyable. The first impression can be a phone call, email, or face-to-face visit. 

The secret is in being available to have that first impression. Patients are more likely to inquire about appointments if they know they can. Ensure your contact information is easy to find and available in a variety of mediums, from SMS message to mailing address.

Friendliness Goes A Long Way

Having your staff treat patients with kindness and compassion is the first step to ensuring a positive first impression. 

Your staff can convey friendliness through an email with professionalism and an eager tone. On the phone, have staff members practice smiling as they speak to bring happiness into their voice.

Proper Phone Call Practices

Knowing how to handle the phones, especially if your practice has a high volume of calls, is imperative to maintaining a good image in the eyes of your patients. Having good phone recall practices in place can be extremely helpful in helping your patients feel well looked after.

Additionally, if your practice experiences a high number of calls, ensure you have a proper system in place to avoid calls going to voicemail. If their initial connection is sent to voicemail, 87% of new patients won’t leave a message or even call back. Answering services or call centers can help in managing call volume.

Keep Calls Informative

Calls may not always be to book an appointment and may have a potential patient on the other end, looking for information before choosing a practice. In this case, your staff should take these calls as an opportunity to introduce the potential patient to your practice. 

Introductions can include an introduction of the doctors on staff and the services they provide, what insurance plans are accepted, and answering any questions they may have. If the patient isn’t ready to book, have your staff direct them to the website, which is informative, easy to read, and has online booking capabilities.

Get to Know Your Patients 

The best way to ensure patients will return is to ensure their time spent at your office is friendly, efficient, and informative. We recognize that all trips to the dentist can’t be inherently pleasurable, but remembering their names and their stories can go a long way.

smiling dental patient in the dentist's chair

There’s a reason that many practices claim to “treat patients like family.” If your team has a great attitude and treat patients with kindness and compassion, they’re bound to have good experiences.

Smiles, eye contact, transparency, and making a note of patients’ important details can set a visit to your office apart from the rest.

Value Their Time

It is important to remember that we are all humans with separate lives and commitments, so respecting your patients’ time will ensure they feel valued. Keeping office hours that are flexible and available to the average working adult can quickly and seamlessly put you ahead of the game.

Make Scheduling Appointments Easy

Beyond having an open schedule with hours that suit the average 9-5er, having the ability to schedule appointments online can make a world of difference. For some patients, it’s easier to plan with a few clicks of the mouse than to have a live phone conversation.

Some patients may feel the exact opposite. It is essential to have that variety of options for your patients so they can reach you when they need to.

Have Open Lines of Communication

The ability to communicate with your patients is paramount in ensuring your practice stays top of mind. Text message reminders and email alerts can provide a no-obligation, gentle nudge to book that appointment.

Additionally, allowing patients to respond to reminders via SMS or email can lower the chances of them opening the message and forgetting about it by up to 50%. If something comes up last minute, they can communicate the issue and have their appointment rescheduled at their convenience.

Make Visits Memorable

Helping your patients have a pleasant and memorable experience can be the driving force for them rebooking and attending a follow-up appointment. Simple actions that are easy to implement can mean for an experience your patients will remember.

If patients are scheduled to arrive right at opening hours, open the door a few minutes early. Nothing says “rigid,” like making your patients stand outside until 8 AM on the nose.

Offer your patients water, coffee, or tea while they wait for their service. Having something to quench thirst and sip on can make a little bit of a wait much more enjoyable.

Branded lip-chap for patients that are dealing with dry, cracked lips can be a huge relief for patients. As well, offering your patients freedom to freshen up and brush their teeth in the washroom before an appointment can let them feel like you acknowledge their busy schedules.

Stay on Time

Having software that can help organize and support busy schedules can help day to day operations run smoothly and without hiccups. Implement a system to help keep track of patients to stay on time during the day.

If wait times are unavoidable, ensure to offer your patients things that will make their wait more enjoyable. Toys and coloring books for patients with children can be a great addition to a waiting room.

Overall, being organized and considerate can positively impact how your patients feel about your practice. Using software that can assist your practice in running smoothly and keeping your staff on the same page can be a beneficial asset for all. 

We offer a free, no-obligation trial of our software to give it a try for yourself and see how it can positively impact your business.

Written by Josh Muir

Director of DSOs & Special Markets

Before he began at RecallMax, Josh worked as a director of practice management at a large Canadian DSO. As a senior leader, Josh has always focused on the development of the people and clients around him. With over 15 years of leadership at virtually every level of management, Josh has learned the essential qualities that motivate and inspire those he is responsible for and accountable to.

Josh has a preternatural ability to understand key financial levers and the behaviours that influence them. While he works to optimize efficiency, Josh never fails to prioritize service vale, regardless of the situation.

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