Understanding your patients: 9 tips to increase patient experience in your dental practice
Is service a priority in your dental practice? Do you and your team try to understand how your patients are feeling at all times? Often, it's the small things that make a big difference in terms of whether patients are happy to visit your practice, and most importantly: whether they are happy to come back. Studies have shown that dental practices that put the patient at the heart of everything do not only enjoy greater patient satisfaction but can also increase their turnover. Happy and satisfied patients will recommend you to others and speak positively about you. So how can you improve the patient experience and patient satisfaction in your dental practice? We have 9 tips that will help you make patient visits to your practice a positive experience without spending a lot of money right away.
#1 First impressions
A nice smile at the reception desk when a patient enters your practice is obviously important. However, a patient's first touchpoint with your practice is in fact much earlier, when they are searching for a suitable dental practice. Make sure that your patients can find you – online and offline. Keep your website up to date and read your Google reviews from time to time to see if your patients share the same first impression of you that you would expect.
#2 First things first: Making contact
Once a patient chooses your practice, they then make contact and arrange an appointment. Provide your patients with different options for contacting your practice. This allows every patient to choose their preferred approach so that they feel comfortable with you right from the start. If someone prefers to make an appointment by telephone, the call should be answered in a friendly manner without being stuck on hold for a long time. For those who prefer to make their appointments online, this can be handled in a straightforward manner on your website. Confirmation of the appointment in real time and an automatic reminder before the appointment make patients feel like they are in the right practice right from the very beginning.
#3 Social Media as a magnet for patients
Facebook, Instagram & Co. and a dental practice – is that really a good match? You would be surprised. In fact, to position your practice as a brand, social media is a must-have. That's because almost everybody is on social media these days. So why not you and your practice too? Social networks allow you to present your practice, give your patient's a voice, interact with others, and showcase your work. The content must provide added value for patients, and entertain, inform, advise, and inspire. Your practice team is sure to include people who are talented in this respect. Take a little time to share insights into your daily practice routine, short videos, before/after images of treatments and success stories with and about your patients. It will be worth it.
#4 Create a relaxing atmosphere
Give your practice a certain wellness factor. Often, a visit to the dentist doesn't exactly inspire cheers of joy in patients. However, with a more relaxing atmosphere, the planned treatment can be a positive experience for your patients. Give your patients a warm welcome, and surprise them in small ways, for example by taking their coats or jackets. If possible, keep bureaucracy to a minimum or offer to help fill out forms. Make the interior design of your dental practice friendly and comfortable. Natural tones, the appealing decoration of walls and comfortable seating in the waiting room can help to calm your patients. Offer healthy, sugar-free drinks and provide reading material. The treatment room can also help to relax your patients before and during treatment. Calming imagery on the ceiling, the relaxing sound of the sea and a pleasant fragrance all have a positive impact on patient satisfaction.
#5 Interaction and respect are essential
For patients, dental expertise is not the only factor when paying a visit to the dentist. Trust and empathy play a much greater role. Patients often have the impression that dentists show a lack of understanding and that their only goal is to finish treatment as quickly as possible. So, take your time, sit down, and ask your patients questions – not just medical, but personal too. Encourage your patients to talk about themselves so that you can perhaps understand their fears. Do you already work with CAD/CAM? Then ask your patients to join you when you create a restoration. This helps them to better understand the treatment and increases trust.
#6 Manage patient expectations
A picture is worth a thousand words. There is so much truth in this saying. Images can really impress your patients. Present the possible treatment outcome and show what a patient can look like with a new smile. IvoSmile can help you to do just that. Using this app, you can quickly and impressively show your patients their potential new smile. But it isn't just the result that's important but how you get there. In terms of verbal communication, there is a lot to consider in this respect. Express yourself clearly and avoid using dental jargon that your patients do not understand. Give clear recommendations and formulate these clearly: «I would advise you to …» or «In my opinion, the best option is …» establish trust on the part of the patient.
#7 Treatment in just one session
Multiple treatment sessions or long waiting times between individual appointments can unsettle patients. With workflows based around IPS e.max CAD, you can offer your patients treatment in a single visit. Annoying temporaries no longer need to be worn and the treatment time for you as well as your patients is significantly shorter and is also much more pleasant. Organize single-visit treatments as effectively as possible. Useful aids can be helpful here: OptraGate, for example, offers greater comfort, making it easier for patients to keep their mouths open. What's more, the unpleasant process of taking impressions can be replaced by convenient intraoral scanning and the patient can also watch while the 3D impression of their mouth is generated.
#8 Focus on quality and esthetics
Do you use premium quality products? Then let your patients know about it! Use arguments that underline your approach to quality and reliability, and at the same time, emphasise that this results in a natural, esthetic outcome. Let's take IPS e.max CAD, for example. On the market for over 15 years, millions of restorations placed and a survival rate of 97.2 percent. These are strong, rational arguments that convince patients. Do your patients respond more strongly to emotions? Then simply tell them that every 10 seconds, an IPS e.max restoration is placed and that IPS e.max CAD has been a faithful companion for you and your patients for many years.
#9 Gain loyal patients
To inspire loyalty in your patients, it isn't enough to meet their expectations with your services – you must exceed them. Loyal patients build a long-term and emotional connection to your practice. They become your fans, recommend you, and encourage their friends and family to visit your practice. In other words: Care and advice should not end when a patient leaves your practice. Make your patients feel important and understood even after treatment has been completed. A sample of the right tooth care product, a patient pass, or tips on dental hygiene show that you care about your patients. Make sure that your staff are aware of this too so that patients are asked about how they feel at reception and that regular check-ups are arranged right away. Inform patients about your social media channels and ask for feedback. Perhaps a newsletter with tips and tricks about oral health might also be of value to your patients? Consider whether this also might be another way for you to increase customer loyalty. After all, patient loyalty is the key to success.
A positive treatment experience and a high level of patient satisfaction are among the most crucial factors in the success of a dental practice. And remember: Often, it's the small things that create a truly unique patient experience.