Two elements drive your dental practice or DSO success. There are business elements and there are customer (patient) service elements. Improving the patient experience and creating patient loyalty is a synergy of both.
Think of patient experience as that you-know-it-when-you-see-it kind of occurrence. But creating and maintaining that response requires intentionality.
Why improving patient experience is a big deal
Your patients (like the general public) are accustomed to high levels of consumer satisfaction. Social media has increased the ability to immediately approve or disapprove of a product or service.
And as you know, people are quick to let you know when you did good…and did not so good!
Even so, their perception can be challenged or altered depending on the way you manage and scale the experience you create.
And then there’s patient loyalty. These days it’s connected to the patient experience through a variety of engaging factors.
- Parking and curb-appeal
- Reception/waiting area atmosphere and amenities
- Interactions with front-desk team
- Chair-side interactions
- Consultations pre- and post treatment
- Protocols for check-out, treatment and financial presentations, re-appointment, and follow-up
Manage this well and you’ll likely create a memorable patient experience—one that could lead to loyal patient relationships.
How to improve the patient experience and create long-term patient loyalty
Know what patients expect and “meet” them there
Empathy is a good quality to bring to every patient interaction. It’s important not to assume that patients have the same affinity for dentistry that you (as a professional) do.
It’s easy to make the assumption that everyone wants to or should value their oral health. As you know, many put off their oral care and only schedule an appointment when a problem arises.
Yet, there are many more who understand the systemic connection between their oral and general health. Or they have specifics in mind about their smile appearance and/or maintaining its health.
Either patient scenario will benefit from being intentional with the patient experience.
- Start with clear and compelling communication about their oral health needs, goals, and…expectations
- Help them establish a routine around those goals and expectations
- Maintain an open channel of communication that challenges unhealthy expectations while engaging them around the positive
- Avoid patient communication that sounds “salesy” or manipulative
Set the right vibe throughout your practice culture
Recall that “know-it-when-you-feel-it” idea earlier mentioned. That’s what you’re wanting.
Positive patient experience has much to do with the tone or atmosphere of your practice. Realize that many expect your practice to feel clinical or sterile.
Again, that’s why your practice atmosphere is established before they actually enter. It starts with the vibe they get from their first phone or virtual interaction. They’ll also be able to pick up on your vibe the moment they drive up.
- Create a lighthearted mood that helps them relax and anticipate a good experience
- Use consistent decor and theming throughout to make patients comfortable
- Make improvements that reflect their reviews, feedback, or verbal affirmations about your practice
Be all-about first impressions
This follows an emphasis on your practice vibe.