As a dentist, patient retention is crucial for the success and growth of your practice. With the rising competition and changing patient expectations, it is not enough to rely solely on your expertise to retain patients. While your clinical and diagnostic skills are of the utmost value to your patients, and the reason you spent years and thousands of dollars on your education, at the end of the day you also have to run a business and maintain patient relationships. This can all seem overwhelming and a little impossible. However, these 8 patient retention strategies are effective ways to improve your practice and maintain its strength. In this blog post, we’ll explore ten proven ways for dentists to keep patients coming back to their practice for years to come. These strategies are easy to implement and require consistent effort, but the payoff is well worth it. So let’s dive in.
Provide Excellent Patient Care
Of course, this is a no brainer. You provide a product just like the coffee shop on every corner, albeit your product is arguably more critical to basic human health. As the provider of a necessary product, you are constantly striving to provide your best work. Consider your target patient demographic and then begin to build out your office to accommodate those patients. For example, if you are providing oral surgery care, set your office up in a way that shows patients you have the necessary equipment to provide the correct imaging, in order for you to make a proper diagnosis. Patients are more likely to return to your practice if they feel comfortable with what is occurring during their appointment. This includes pre-op imaging and the post-exam conversation about what their options are, and how aggressive or conservative you would treat their oral health concerns. Focus on delivering exceptional patient care by providing accurate diagnoses, clear treatment plans, and painless procedures. This is just as much your responsibility as it is your staff, but that’s a topic for another day.
Leverage the Power of Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool used around the world, for advertising everything from lunchbox snacks, to fishing poles. The power of social media is just as important to dental practices. Social media is the fastest and broadest way to connect with your patients, build your brand, and keep them engaged. Create social media accounts for your practice and regularly post informative and engaging content. This can be anything from a simple picture of staff at the front desk, to a video or you or a dental assistant explaining a procedure. Social media is also a great way to showcase patient testimonials and promote any special offers or events. Keep the rules of 10 in mind. Each time you reach out to a patient, consider that you have actually reached ten people, as that patient is likely to tell 10 friends about their positive experience at your practice. Some offices chose to have the office manager post to social media and create content. If your office doesn’t have the time to create and post content, you can hire a marketing team to help you with everything from social media to website building. Let your patients participate in patient retention!
Develop a Patient Loyalty Program
A patient loyalty program is an excellent way to reward patients for their loyalty and keep them coming back. Consider offering discounts, free exams, contests, or other incentives to patients who consistently use your services and/or refer you to their friends and family. Loyalty programs build patient relationships and attract new patients to your practice.
Keep Your Practice Clean and Comfortable
A clean, well-maintained dental practice creates a positive impression on patients and helps them feel more comfortable during their visits. Make sure your office is clean, organized, and equipped with comfortable chairs and up-to-date equipment. This starts with the waiting room. This can look different for every practice. For example, the waiting room of an Ortho office may have kids games and a more colorful and playful aesthetic, while an oral surgery office may have a more clinical feel. Whatever aesthetic you choose for your front office, make sure it is inviting for your patients.
Personalize Your Patient Communications
Personalized patient communications go a long way in building strong relationships with your patients. Instead of generic messages, use patient’s names and tailor your communications to their unique needs and preferences. This could include congratulating them on their birthday, sending reminders about appointments or following up after a procedure. This falls on the front office staff to complete, so make sure you have frequent communication with them about what your expectations are, what is working well, and what needs improvement.
Follow-Up After Procedures
Following up with patients after procedures shows them that you care about their well-being and recovery. When following up, ask how they’re feeling, address any concerns, and ensure they’re satisfied with their treatment. This helps foster strong relationships and builds trust with your patients. It means a lot to patients when they hear from your front desk staff, but if you are able, make the calls yourself. Hearing from a doctor after a procedure all but cements the likelihood that a patient will return from future treatment and refer their friends and family to you as well.
Train Your Staff on Excellent Customer Service
Your staff is an extension of your practice and one of the best, or worst, ways to affect patient retention depending on their customer service skills. The customer service they provide has a significant impact on patient retention and the success of your practice. After all, the front desk staff is the first face they see when they come in the front door. Train your staff on excellent customer service, such as being friendly, responsive, and empathetic. This ensures patients feel valued and invested in your practice. Morning huddles are the perfect opportunity to train staff and discuss specific needs of patients you will see that day.
Embrace New Technologies
Dental technology is constantly advancing. This is wonderful for you and your patients, but also expensive. Consider what technologies will improve your practice and give you the best ROI. Advancing technologies are just as much as tool that can improve patient experience and attract new patients to your practice as they are for diagnosing oral health concerns. Consider investing in cutting-edge dental technologies that reduce pain, increase accuracy, and shorten treatment times. This shows your patients that you’re invested in their oral health and committed to providing the latest and most effective treatments.
Keeping your patients coming back to your practice requires consistent effort, but it’s essential for the growth and success of your practice. By following these eight proven strategies, you can ensure that your patients feel valued, comfortable, and invested in your practice. Remember, happy and satisfied patients are your best marketing tool, so keep them coming back for years to come.