Competition and the Patient Experience
Dentists must deal with competition from private practices and corporate practices (McNeely 2017). They may have to deal with competition due to the “denser concentration of dentists in prime population areas” and spread of “regional or corporate practices” (Savage 2014). Consequently, they must compete for patients through a variety of means. Particularly, they could market and guarantee the excellent experience they provide to patients (Berger and Borris 2016).
Dentists must advertise the customer service and comfortable atmosphere of their practice in order to attract new patients. According to Roger P. Levin, “founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental consulting firm,” “Most dental patients evaluate their satisfaction with a practice based on their overall experience versus solely on the clinical care” (2018). Dentists must convey to patients that they will provide “the experience that patients can expect in [their] practice” (Receveur 2018). On practice’s website and social media, they could show “pictures and videos of the doctor visiting with each patient in a kind and gentle manner,” presenting prospective patients a welcoming environment in the clinic (Bashara 2013). They could also post patient testimonial videos, verifying the excellent service they provide (Receveur 2018). The practice must also have a theme in order to create a unique experience for a certain demographic, such as using cartoons for child patients (Bashara 2013). In addition, they need a mission statement in order “to ensure that everyone who visits knows what you stand for” (Bashara 2013).
Dental clinics can retain patients with great customer service during their appointment, leading to long-term success over their competitors. Staff members must contribute to providing comfortable and memorable customer service and experience (Levin 2018; McNeely 2017). Those with good social skills can help bring in new patients for appointments regarding questions about treatments that dentists could answer (Stanley 2018). Dentists could even provide more perks for patients in their office, such as TVs, blankets, extended hours, etc., especially if other practices in their area provide them (Receveur 2018). In order to retain patients, dentists can further foster their relationships with them by “[calling] and [checking] on patients, [thanking] them for referrals, [giving] small token gift cards when the doctor runs late, and always [telling] patients that [they’ll] do whatever [they] can to keep them comfortable and create a great dental experience” (Levin 2018; McNeely 2017). When clinics provide excellent customer service for their patients’ experience, “patients will… [return] for treatment,” “[accept] elective treatment, [convey] positive aspects of the practice to friends and family,” and “[make] referrals to the practice” (Levin 2014).
Dentists can generate referrals from their patients so long as they provide excellent care to all patients (Afifi 2018). However, when practices provide consistent care, customer service, and experience, their patients will keep returning (Levin 2014). Ultimately, they can become financially successful in areas filled with their competitors.