How to Show Patients you Appreciate Them and Win Their Loyalty
By Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management
To build a successful practice, dentists and their team members need to focus on earning patient loyalty. Attracting new patients to the office simply isn’t enough. Dental teams have to find ways to keep patients coming back, which, unfortunately, is a struggle for many offices.
If your practice is among those offices, I’m willing to bet production numbers are down and your bottom line is taking a hit. You might not realize this, but the ability to retain patients makes a big difference in their average value. For example, if patient retention is at 50% the average value is $1,200 per patient. If the practice retains 75% of patients, the average value jumps to $2,500. That’s more than double.
How can you improve lackluster patient retention numbers? Providing an exceptional patient experience through top-notch customer service is one way, and taking the time to build a rapport is another. Making patients feel appreciated also goes a long way in winning their loyalty. Showing patients you appreciate them helps to elevate their experience while also strengthening their connection to the practice—but is something few practices actually do.
Letting patients know you appreciate them will help you grow your practice. Not sure how to do that? Here are a few ideas:
Reach out to new patients before their first appointment. Take a few minutes to call new patients before that initial visit. Introduce yourself and let them know you’re looking forward to seeing them and helping them reach their oral health goals. Not only will this make your practice stand out from others in your area, it’s a great way to start building a rapport with new patients.
When patients refer, send them flowers. Referrals help grow your practice, and you want to encourage patients to keep telling their family and friends how great your office is. Thank patients who refer in person, but also send flowers to show them how much the referral really means to the practice.
If you can, send the flowers to the patient’s place of business. Co-workers will ask about the beautiful arrangement, helping to create buzz about your practice.
Send patients birthday cards. Everyone loves to get cards on their birthday. Make a point of sending all patients warm birthday wishes, either via snail mail or email. You might even consider including a coupon with the card to show patients just how much you appreciate their business.
Send new patients handwritten thank you notes. Patients will be shocked to find a letter from you in their mailbox, and the gesture will certainly be something they remember.
You might think writing a letter is pretty time consuming (and something you can’t fit into your already hectic work day), but it really isn’t. Every week, set aside a few minutes to write a note to every new patient you saw. Remember, these notes shouldn’t be long letters going over every detail of the appointment. Keep them short and sweet, and include something personal. You don’t want them to sound like form letters.
Here’s an example:
It was very nice to meet you at your new patient appointment earlier this week. Thank you so much for choosing our practice. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We look forward to your next visit and helping you meet your oral health goals. Hope you have a great time at your son’s wedding next month.
These notes will set your practice apart from the others in your area, and will help make patients feel more connected to the practice—which in turn leads to loyalty.
Keep in touch between appointments. Birthday cards are a great way to do this, but you can (and should) reach out to patients more than once a year. Consider sending a monthly e-newsletter, for example. Each newsletter can spotlight a different team member, highlight new services you offer, or simply provide education. You can also send out coupons for discounts on certain services, such as whitening or clear aligner therapy.
These small gestures will show patients you appreciate them—and that will make them happy to call your practice their dental home. Happy patients are not only more likely to return to your practice and to accept the treatment you recommend, they’re also more likely to refer your practice to family and friends. If you make patients feel special, they’ll reward you with their loyalty—helping to boost practice productivity and increase revenues.
Sally McKenzie is CEO of McKenzie Management, www.mckenziemgmt.com, a full-service, nation-wide
dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dental Billing Tips and News for Pros; Edition #127