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Ever been to a spa? The environment of a spa is inviting and relaxing. The staff pampers you, takes care of you, and makes you feel important. The experience makes you want to go to the spa again.
The experience in a dental clinic is usually the opposite, and most patients feel anxious, or even fearful before and during the time they are in the dental chair. The less-than-ideal experience reduces the chances of patients pro-actively seeking dental treatment and also customer retention.
As a dentist, you should actively think about how you can provide a better experience to your patients—what needs and fears can you address to put your patients at ease? What amenities can you provide that the experience at your clinic becomes a spa-like experience? Those are the questions we will help you answer in this article.
The term “dental spa” is a concept, and there is no specific list of amenities that you need to provide to your patients. The amenities that you decide to offer at your practice should come from a deep understanding of your patient’s needs and desires and can range from the simplest and least expensive to the most complex and expensive one. Since your practice is an independent business, you get to decide on which facilities you would like to incorporate at your practice.
But, before you jump in and start making a list of all the things you could do, remember that the most important changes can only be made once you understand your patients. It is worthwhile to invest the time and resources to understand what makes or breaks your patient’s experience before, during, and after their treatment.
You can start by simply observing your patient. Are they excited when they have an appointment scheduled? When they arrive, are they calm, or anxious? Are they pleased with the decor of the clinic? Are they relaxed during their treatment? Does their treatment end with a smile on their face?
You could also simply ask your patients for feedback. If your PMS supports it, consider sending a customer satisfaction survey and navigate the responses to understand your patients better or conduct a face to face survey if you prefer.
Once you have developed an understanding of your customers’ needs, it is time to implement changes to improve their experience. We highly recommend that you start by eliminating negative experiences, then improving the already positive experiences, even if it feels counter-intuitive.
Think of your patient’s experience as a connected chain of micro-experiences. Just as a chain is as strong as its weakest link, your patient’s experience is also determined by the worst micro-experience. American Express estimates that 33% of Americans would consider switching businesses after a single negative experience. Do you think that stats for a dental practice would be any different?
When you think about it, there are plenty of things in a dental practice that you might be used to, but is very unpleasant for your patients. The smell, the loud sounds of machines, the bright light in their face, keeping their mouths open, the pain, and the bad after-taste that so many procedures have. Can you not do something to help your patient’s through this?
The interesting part is that most of these problems are easy and cheap to solve, and don’t require much management overhead. An eye-mask, a glass of juice, a warm towel to wipe their face with, and some music—that is all it takes to improve your patient’s experience. If you think your patients will accept (and pay) for a more luxurious experience, you can add those facilities as well.
Don’t forget that even the smallest facility you offer will require some management. Someone will have to keep a warm towel ready for your patients, and then clean, disinfect, and organize them. Think about it thoroughly before you decide to introduce any facility.
Apart from the management perspective, you have to consider costs as well. The cost will apply to you, and your patients as all the amenities will ultimately be paid for by your patients. As the doctor mentions in the video, they offer relaxing music and dental chairs with massagers built into them to their patients. The magnetic speakers probably don’t cost much, but the dental chair with the built-in massager definitely costs more than a regular chair, which will add to the treatment costs.
You also have to remember that most of the spa-like facilities won’t be covered by insurance, and will add to your patient’s out of pocket expenses. If the added cost is too high, it might put off a portion of your patients.
The dental-spa experience is perhaps one of the most misunderstood concepts in dentistry. But, at its core, it is about putting your customers first and striving to improve their experience. Your customers will not only love it, but they will likely rave about it to their friends, their family, and on social media, which will ultimately benefit your business.