It’s often the little things that make a big difference in determining whether a patient will return to your office. Take a moment to read the Google reviews for your dental practice as well as your competitors. They may mention how their mouth feels after their visit, but most often, they focus on the customer service they received. So how can you improve patient experience and customer satisfaction at your dental practice? Start by thinking like a patient.
3 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience Before Arrival
Update your website
Look at your website through the eyes of a current or potential patient. Is it easy to find the information they need? Is there a live chat feature so your patients can ask questions and get answers in real time? Are they able to request or schedule an appointment online? Think about what would make the patient experience a smooth one from the very first touch point.
Evaluate how calls are answered
When a patient calls your practice, what happens? Do they hear a friendly greeting? How often are callers put on hold? Almost 60% of callers left on hold in silence hang up, according to a study by AT&T. But if there’s on-hold messaging, callers will stay on the line up to three minutes longer, according to the North American Telecommunications Association. Click here for ideas for on-hold messaging for your dental practice.
Check the exterior of your practice
Assign a team member to enter your practice through the front door each day. That person can make sure the exterior of the practice looks good and there’s no litter, faded signs, or other turn-offs.
5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience After Arrival
Give a friendly greeting
Have you ever entered a doctor’s office and had to wait for the receptionist to acknowledge you? How did that make you feel? How about if you entered and the receptionist immediately looked up, smiled, and said hello? Each team member’s body language and tone of voice influences the patient experience. How can your team behave to illustrate kindness, caring, attentiveness, and gentleness?
Be on time
Your patients have likely received multiple reminders of the date and time of their appointment, plus many dental practices reserve the right to cancel the appointment if the patient shows up late. It’s only common courtesy to make every effort to have your team be on time. If you’re running late, consider calling patients to let them know. Most would rather adjust the time of their arrival rather than have to sit in the waiting room or their car.
Create a welcoming environment
Reading patient reviews is a great way to know what’s important to your patient base. For example, one person might write that they like having an assortment of chapstick to choose from, while another might mention the soothing music or gentle massaging chairs. Others may value that your team took the time to explain the procedure and used the latest technology.
Keep the office and bathroom clean
You know all of the instruments are sterilized and the operatories are cleaned. But patients notice things like stains on the bottom of the chair pedestal, dust on the floorboards, the amount of toilet paper on the roll, and whether the trash can needs to be emptied. Believe it or not, these are the things that can influence whether they want to return to your office in the future.
Make it easy to pay
Once the patient has agreed to treatment, what’s the process? Does the patient have to walk from the operatory to the front to pay for services? Consider adding a portable, wireless payment processing terminal that can be brought to the patient instead. Plus, make it easy for patients to pay via credit card, debit card, ACH account, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or monthly payment plans.
For ideas on how to overcome concerns about cost, please click here to read our guide “7 Effective Ways to Increase Dental Case Acceptance.”
Of course, your team also needs to provide excellent patient care. But it’s the non-clinical aspects of the visit that people tend to remember the most. Happy patients will not only return to your practice year after year, but they will refer you to their friends, family and colleagues.
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