In today’s competitive market, dental practices need to stand out from their competition, and nothing makes you stand out more than fantastic customer service. Not only do customers remember bad experiences longer than good ones, but they are also more likely to share their bad experiences—both online and in person: 95 percent of customers are likely to share a story of a bad experience with their friends and family. By ensuring that your patients have a great experience every time they come in for a visit, you can make sure they keep coming back to your practice over another and attain even more patients through referrals and positive reviews.
Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Well, that’s just the beginning. With high-quality customer service, you can reap the benefits of retaining patients for long periods. Customer retention is cost-effective, boosts your revenue, and sets you up for long-term success.
While it’s clear that excellent customer service is essential to your dental practice, it can be challenging to know how to ensure your patients have a positive experience every time you see them. Here are four tips to help you ensure that your customer service is on track every day.
Foster a Comfortable Environment
One of the most critical aspects of the patient experience is their comfort level in your dental office. For example, one study found that the longer a patient has to wait in a waiting room, the more it negatively affects their level of satisfaction, both with the appointment itself and the relationship they have with their provider. Alternatively, making an effort to provide shorter waiting times can improve your patients’ satisfaction. We know that short wait times aren’t always possible, though. So, even if you can’t always ensure that a patient will only wait a few minutes before being called back, you can create a comfortable environment for them.
Influencing your patients’ perceived wait time is about providing them with small comforts that will put them at ease and relieve some of their stress. For example, consider providing the following things in your office:
- Comfortable seating
- A comfortable temperature set between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit
- Aromatherapy with relaxing scents like lavender or eucalyptus
- More modern and open layouts or decor
- Noise-reduction headphones, music, or television
- Healthy snacks and water
Your waiting room not only helps your patients feel more comfortable, but it can also signal to them that you care about their experience in your office. Paying attention to these minor aspects can make them feel more valued, especially because many of them have taken valuable time out of their day to be there.
Reward Loyal Patients
Another way to make your patients feel valued is to reward them with special programs, raffles, and gift cards for remaining loyal to your dental practice. For example, consider offering a reward to patients who refer your practice to their friends, like a gift card or discounted or free service. For every patient who walks in due to another patient’s recommendation, you could give each of them access to a package that includes discounted biannual cleanings and X-rays.
Another fun way to reward your patients is to host a raffle. Keep a stack of Post-it Notes or raffle cards at the front desk where patients can fill out their information to win a prize of their choice. You could even host a virtual contest through Facebook to spread the word about your practice and find more patients.
Prioritize Good Communication
Excellent communication skills are a big part of being able to provide outstanding dental care. Not only do you have to convey your message clearly and succinctly, but you also have to do it empathetically to help patients feel at ease.
The following aspects of good communication can make your patients feel more welcome and comfortable at their visits:
- Quality listening skills
- Eye contact
- Welcoming body language
- Follow-up questions
- An opportunity to ask questions
Availability is also essential to streamlining communication and providing excellent customer service. If your patients feel that it is too difficult to reach you when they have a question, they may grow frustrated and seek other options. While you can’t be available by phone at all hours of the day, allowing patients to contact you through different channels like web chat or text messaging can help them feel safe knowing they can reach you at any time.
Engage and Educate Your Patients
Many people may feel nervous—or even anxious—to go to the dentist, which can negatively affect their perception of a visit. While you can’t control your patients’ emotions, you can take a few extra steps to help anxious individuals feel more comfortable. First, consider walking patients through expectations for the next steps, procedures, and instructions. Take the time to answer their questions so they aren’t walking into everything blind.
While you and your staff are well-equipped to handle the procedures that occur in your office every day, remember that your patients may not feel the same way. This is why it’s essential to educate your patients so they know what to expect. Consider handing out educational flyers with information about common disorders that affect oral health, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), how to take care of your teeth properly, and why great hygiene matters. Not only will this help you build a stronger relationship with your patients, but it may even save them from suffering from severe oral health conditions related to their oral structure, sleep, and airway.
In the event that you have a hectic day, your nondental staff should be well trained to provide comfort to those who may need it. Consider providing educational sources to help them learn about the basics of standard procedures such as root canals and cavity fillings. Not only will they be able to answer simple questions, but they will also be more empathetic to patients who must have these procedures done. Additionally, educate yourself and your staff on airway dentistry, OSA, and other common sleep disorders to stay ahead of the curve, and continue to elevate your practice.
Excellent customer service is essential to improving your patients’ satisfaction with your practice. Not only will investing in your patients’ satisfaction help you retain patients for more extended periods, but it will also help you acquire new patients. When it comes down to it, happy patients mean a happy practice for more reasons than one.