A lot of practices spend an exorbitant amount of time marketing for new patients. This seems logical as the more patients you get, the more your revenue, right? Not really. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of new patients but what is happening to the ones you already have? Are you spending sufficient time and resources on making sure that these patients are opting your practice for dental services that you offer?
The truth is that your efforts to bring in new patients will only be effective if you can successfully retain your current patients, keep them satisfied, and even happy. In this time of perpetual competition, changing insurance plans, and the intrusion of social media, it has become increasingly challenging for many practices to retain their patients. Patient loyalty is an intangible asset that leads to patient retention, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Time and patience is crucial to creating an effective patient retention strategy. Attracting new patients is important for the growth of your practice. However, not being able to retain these patients means that you are not gaining the full value of all your marketing strategies. Basically, the higher the patient satisfaction, the higher the patient retention, and consequently, the greater your revenue.
Here are some of the best strategies or tips to retain your patients:
1. Focus on the best quality treatment
When it comes down to it, the quality of your dental service is what can speak volumes for your practice. Patients visit your practice to get the best treatment, and if they don’t receive quality treatment, they are sure to look for other options. Therefore, if patient retention is your priority, you should be on providing quality treatment. Ensuring that you stay on top of new treatments and innovations in dental care will have a great impact on your patients remaining loyal to you.
2. Provide an exceptional patient experience
Providing quality dental care may be a no-brainer but going the extra mile and providing value additions will go a long way to making a remarkable impression on your patients. Your patients have several options to choose from and it is quite easy for them to move from one practice to another. Creating a personalized dental plan, attention to detail on your patient’s preferences, initiating loyalty programs and holiday discount offers, early-bird offers, can all be catalysts for your patients to stay loyal to you helping increase patient retention rates at your practice.
The ambiance that your practice provides can also have an impact on your patients. Consider upgrading your waiting area to make the ambiance feel warm and welcoming as opposed to being clinical. Simple things like providing ample parking areas can also have a huge impact on patient experience.
Friendly, polite, and professional staff adds value to your logistical efforts. Train your staff periodically so that they are up to date on dental care and maintain professionalism even in touchy situations. Being approachable and returning phone calls on time are also aspects that your staff need to be aware of to make a positive impression on your patients. These are effective patient retention techniques that improve the overall outcome of your dental practice over time.
Additionally, you could also explore the feasibility of being accessible after hours.
3. Establish a channel of communication with your patients
Establishing a transparent and continuous channel of communication is a crucial first step in patient retention. From registration to follow-up visits, there is a lot of information that needs to flow – back and forth – with your patients. This can include everything from giving them an idea of what to expect when they visit, the procedures they are likely to need, the patient responsibility, and right up to routines they can establish at home for better dental health. Establish your communication channels at the outset of your relationship with your patient. There may be a lot of information that a patient needs to plan out their dental care. Become a source for health-related information and help them reduce their information tracking needs. Over time, this practice, alongside an excellent patient renetion strategy in place will aid in gaining credence for your dental practice.
4. Automate appointments, billing, and payment
One marketing strategy that can be utilized to positively influence your patients and build patient retention levels is to have a professional website set up. Your website can be a one-stop destination for your patients to get updated information about your services and dental know-how, book appointments and pay bills. Having an online appointment system available will allow them the flexibility of booking appointments at their convenience.
The same goes for your billing and payment systems. An automated billing system ensures that your staff does not spend the bulk of their time working on billing for each patient’s visit and procedures. Providing multiple options for patients to make payments makes the process go faster for your patients and you.
A Mobile app which allows for all these processes makes things go even faster and reduces the need for backend management by your staff.
5. Reduce overbooking and wait times
Overbooking may be an accepted practice in the hospitality industry, but it may not fly well with your patients. It leaves them frustrated as dental care is a necessity rather than a source of entertainment. This can negatively impact your efforts for patient retention at your dental practice. Planning appointments carefully while keeping in mind the procedures that your patients may need will also reduce their wait times at your clinic. This is a great way to elevate the patient experience at your practice. Waiting for extended periods of time for a service that they have booked for can be a legitimate reason for them to feel frustrated and will reduce their favor. By respecting their time, you are making them feel valued and cherished.
6. Address concerns upfront
Have regular surveys done to give your patients an opportunity to be honest about your services and their experience at your practice. Something as simple as setting up an automatic survey can be just the right step to receive great input from your patients for improvements and ultimately help in effective patient retention. This will give your patients an opportunity to raise any concerns they may have.
Of course, having surveys and feedback mechanisms in place would be pointless if you do not address concerns or implement feedback on time. Your patients should not feel that their voices are not being heard. Connect with them once the feedback has been implemented and let them know of the changes you have made to make them feel extra special.
Keep a check on reviews that your patients leave on review sites and social media as well. Address any concerns that they may have and thank them for leaving their feedback on these sites.
Remember, every interaction is an opportunity, especially considering patients are walking testimonials for your practice. Your existing patients become your source for new patients.