Encompassing everything from how your employees answer the phone to your website’s functionality and your in-office experience, “customer experience” is a key differentiator for businesses today—and dental offices are no different. Patients increasingly expect the same kind of experience from healthcare providers that they do from businesses such as retail stores or e-commerce websites.
Your patients have many choices today. According to a survey by Deloitte, consumers are increasingly aware of their options when it comes to health care. They expect value, cost transparency and a collaborative relationship with their healthcare providers. Providing the customer experience that patients want can transform your practice. In fact, more than 80% of companies that prioritize customer experience report an increase in revenues.
What do patients look for in a dental experience—and how can your practice provide it? Here are six tips for delivering convenience, personalization and a memorable patient experience.
- Understand what your patients expect. To meet patient expectations, you have to know what those are. Regularly capture feedback from your patients to find out what they want and where your practice is falling short. You can use email marketing or text messaging to send links to online patient surveys using survey software such as SurveyMonkey or Zoho Survey. If your patients prefer to take surveys on paper, search online for sample patient survey templates. Once you receive results from patient surveys, be sure to act on them.
- Show patients that you care by getting personal. Personalize all of your interactions with patients by choosing the communication method that they prefer, whether that’s text, phone calls or emails. Engage with patients to show that you value them. For example, after a patient’s first appointment or a complex procedure, follow up via text, email or phone to check on the patient and thank them for choosing your office to provide their dental care.
- Make your office setting memorable. Does your office look outdated, dingy or dark and depressing? If so, it’s time for a makeover. Strive to create a relaxing, spa-like environment that puts patients at ease. Add entertainment options to distract patients, such as video in the waiting room or individual television screens at treatment chairs. Offer free Wi-Fi for patients, being sure to use a separate Wi-Fi network to protect the security of your office’s network.
- Meet standards of professionalism. Patients say the five most important elements of dental professionalism are adherence to sterilization and infection control rules and procedures; personal hygiene and clean professional attire; good communication skills; diagnostic and clinical judgment in providing efficient dental treatment; and providing ethical care. Make sure that your staff, from the front desk to the patient care team, understands and adheres to these standards.
- Communicate clearly with patients. Explaining treatments, their costs and the results of dental care shows patients you’re being transparent about the value of the service you provide. It also helps to build lasting patient relationships and encourage patients to follow through with recommended treatments. Use all the tools at your disposal to enhance communication: for instance, seven out of 10 consumers say they’d be more likely to choose a healthcare provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text.
- Take advantage of patient-facing technology. Much of the technology that dental practices implement are tools that patients don’t understand or care about. However, patient-facing technologies such as Lighthouse 360 can make an instant impression on your patients. Patient FastTrack was designed with the patient experience in mind. It lets your patients speed up the registration process by completing and signing new patient registration forms quickly and easily on their smartphones. You can even customize the registration forms to your practice’s needs. (Of course, Patient FastTrack also creates a positive staff experience since your employees no longer have to input data from paper registration forms.)