Revive Dormant Dental Patients with Patient Communication

April 12, 2018 Rieva Lesonsky

patient communication

You could be ignoring a potential source of profit for your dental practice: dormant patients. According to DentistryIQ, on average 20 percent of the patients in a typical dental practice are considered dormant. That's a huge number of patients who haven't returned to your office. You spent good money marketing to those patients and winning them over to visit your practice in the first place.  Are you really going to let them go without trying to win them back?

It costs seven times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, Kissmetrics reports — and the same principle applies to dental patients. Yet despite the benefits of targeting dormant patients, almost half (46 percent) of dental office managers believe they don’t spend enough time on patient reactivation. Here are some steps to help you revive those dormant patients.

Initiate patient communication with a call

Start the outreach by referencing your past relationship. Patients don't forget their dentists! For example, you can say something like, “It's been our pleasure to care for your dental health for 5 years. We've missed you!” You can add an even more personal touch to the contact by having a front desk staffer that they liked initiate the outreach with a phone call. (Here are some more tips on building patient relationships.)

Keep in mind that you probably won't be able to set an appointment on the first contact with a dormant patient. Instead, focus on obtaining the patient's updated contact information, including address, phone number and email. If fear of the dentist is holding the patient back, try these tips to overcome dental phobia.

If possible, try to get them to sign up to receive email marketing or text messaging communications from your practice. You can get more sign-ups by entering patients into a drawing for a prize, such as an Amazon gift card, iPad or other generally desirable item.

Use patient communication tools to help

Once you have the patient’s contact information and permission to contact them with marketing materials, Lighthouse patient communication software can be a great help in rekindling your relationship and getting the patient back in the chair.

According to Target Marketing, email marketing is the most effective way to retain customers. The Lighthouse patient communication app automatically sends customized recall emails to dormant patients for you. These are professionally crafted to persuade patients to come back to your dental practice.

What if for some reason you have a patient who "doesn't do email," such as a senior? No worries: Lighthouse also creates customized recall letters you can mail to this type of dormant patient.

Be patient. It can take weeks or months until a dormant patient opens your email marketing message. One study found it takes an average of 57 days. However, ultimately 75 percent of users will click on an email within 90 days of the first email being sent.

Once a dormant patient makes an appointment to come in, they may need to update their information in your patient files. Using Lighthouse’s Patient FastTrack feature, they can register right on their smartphones, and even electronically sign documents and forms on their phone screen. This technology saves time for your front office staff — and impresses dormant patients with how up-to-date your practice is.

Now that you've recovered the patient, keep them coming back with these simple ways to improve patient recall.

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