Patient acquisition is hard, and it can be expensive. So it’s a good idea to try to make sure the patients you do get are loyal. That way, you don’t have to be replacing them constantly. In fact, loyal patients are some of your best ambassadors for bringing in new patients, so it’s a double bonus.
Get Loyalty the Right Way
First of all, let’s acknowledge that there are actually many ways to build loyalty in patients. But the way you build loyalty governs the type of patients you will retain. If, for example, you try to keep loyal patients by offering cash incentives or coupons via a loyalty club program, you’re going to retain patients who are cost-conscious coupon-cutters. These patients might be loyal for their regular checkups, but they’re unlikely to want to do more than that. They’ll likely balk at any kind of optional treatment, and if you recommend restorations for a dental problem, they might bolt in favor of someone who will tell them they don’t have a problem or offer to solve it cheaper.
So what you want to do is try to foster the type of loyalty that builds patient trust (the foundation of case acceptance) and a sense of the value of good oral health.
Build a Great Team
Patient loyalty actually starts before the patient ever enters your office. We’re not just talking about making sure they have a great experience on your website, though that doesn’t hurt. We’re talking about building the foundation of a great office team that works well together and is both prepared and happy to do their part in providing patients with outstanding care.
Finding, training, and maintaining this team gives you a great foundation for building customer loyalty.
Start off Right
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and that first impression is critical to building loyalty. If people start with a positive interaction, they are more likely to forgive future negative ones. While you want every patient experience to be positive, starting off right gives you some cushion for the future.
Customize the Experience
Every patient is unique. While you might know this intellectually, you need to apply this in your practice. Figure out what matters to each patient and make sure they get that in each visit. Some patients are very focused on their time, and you need to make sure they get treated quickly and efficiently. Others might value the social time they spend being made welcome and feeling at home–for these patients, taking the time to talk is critical.
Convey (and Deliver) Value
How do you get patients to agree to high-cost procedures? You have to show them the value of the treatment. Value is what makes the treatment worth it to the patient, and unless they understand what they are getting for their expenditure, how can you expect them to commit to it? Clearly explain what patients are getting in terms that make sense to them (better smile, less discomfort, improved function, etc.), as well as what makes this choice better than alternative treatments.
Of course, then you have to deliver the promised value, so don’t oversell your ability, and make sure you have the training and experience to provide the patient what they’re looking for.
Poor communication leads to many problems for dental patients. It can increase their anxiety, make them mistrust you, make them dislike you, and ultimately make them want to leave your practice.
Take the time to communicate properly with patients. Remember: just saying something is not enough. You need to make sure they understand you. That might take learning different ways to express ideas to different patients, repeating ideas in multiple ways, and even asking patients questions to make sure they understand.
And remember, good listening is also an important part of communication. Brush up your listening skills to be better at hearing what your patients are asking for.
Survey Lost Patients
Even if you do all the above, you’ll likely lose a few patients. Don’t forget to ask them why or what you might have done differently to keep them. You might try to win them back, but don’t try too hard. The relationship might be too soured to be saved, but listen to what they have to say so you can keep the next patient.
You Have Control over Patient Retention
One of the most important things to realize is that you have control over the success and failure of your dental practice, including patient retention. If you take the necessary steps, you can improve patient retention.
If you need help taking those steps, Dr. Shahin Safarian is here to help. Please call (858) 349-7996 today to schedule consulting time and learn more secrets of the 7 Figure Dental Practice.