When it comes to building a dental practice, keeping your patients happy is a key piece of the puzzle. We've talked about this before: keeping loyal patients costs you less than constantly acquiring new patients. But that's not the only reason to build patient loyalty. Loyal patients mean a thriving practice full of patients who love you, your staff, and love to send their friends and family to see you.
How can you work to build a culture of loyalty that brings these patients to you and keeps them with your practice? Let's look at five ways you can build this culture in your own office:
1. Start with your staff. These are the people who will be interacting with patients from the moment they call or step into your office. They are an extension of you, and likely will be the ones who make the biggest impression on your patients. It's key for them to understand how important loyalty means to your practice. That means not only training them to treat your patients in a way that builds loyalty but to demonstrate to your staff what loyalty means in the way you personally treat your staff.
It's hard to expect your staff to be welcoming and efficient with your patients if you don't give your staff courtesy and respect. To build a culture of loyalty, it starts with you being loyal to your staff and showing them how important they are to your practice. This, in turn, shows staff it's not just lip service—you mean it and you expect it from them as well.
2. Get to know your patients and their families. One of the best ways to ensure you can build loyalty in your practice is to show your patients that you care about them. Building a sincere relationship with them will go miles! Sure, it can be a lot to keep track of when you're looking at keeping track of any number of patients and their lives, but that's where good dental practice management software comes in.
If you have the right tool, you can use it to keep notes (not just treatment notes) on your patients. A quick note can help you remember which patients have certain preferences and maybe even a reminder about the topic of your small talk last time. Your patient doesn't have to know you "cheated" by writing down her grandchildren's names or their ages. We know you can't fit all that info in and remember it, that's why you can check in on your software at your patient list for the next day and get all those tidbits. That information can be used by any of your staff as well, along with patient birthdays and details on their immediate family members who are patients.
3. Give them a great experience. Nothing builds loyalty like a smooth, welcoming interaction with your practice. This doesn't happen by accident, either. From the patient's first impression with your practice, whether it's a phone call, a referral from a friend, your website, or something else, you are building that relationship. You have to be organized, efficient, and build a system of processes to give each patient the experience that will bring them back.
We've talked about this before, and it's another place where the right software can make a huge difference. The right tools, coupled with training and a great staff, will ensure you're building a culture of loyalty from the get-go with your patients.
4. Stay in contact with them. This isn't just regular reminders about upcoming appointments or for recall. Though those are important too. To keep your clients coming back, it's the additional touches that will make the difference. Holiday cards, birthday notes, welcome letters, and more show that your practice appreciates them and their business. It also keeps you top of mind when it's time for them to get their cleaning or if their neighbor is asking for a referral!
5. Ask for referrals and testimonials. Yes! You can do it. It can seem uncomfortable and pushy, but if you have done the legwork in building the culture, it will be a no-brainer for your patients to spread the word. But we're all busy, you'll have to ask. Whether that's in an appointment follow-up email, signage in your waiting room, or your appointment-setters asking as they schedule their next appointment, you'll have to ask. Build it into your processes and make it part of the system. The more you ask, the easier it will be. And the harder you work to build the right culture in your practice, the more willing your patients will be to talk
The right dental practice management platform, staff, and processes build your practice. It's key to find the solutions that help make your practice successful.