Is your dental office unintentionally driving patients crazy—and driving them away? Take a good hard look at your practice, and honestly assess whether you might be suffering from any of the following.
1. It takes forever to get an appointment. If your dental calendar is booked three months out, you’re going to have a hard time getting new patients—or even keeping the ones you have. Try using Lighthouse 360 to make the most of every day. Lighthouse 360 sends automatic appointment confirmations to patients, so there are fewer no-shows. If someone cancels, it’s easy to access patients on your waitlist and fill the empty slot.
2. Your waiting room is like a torture chamber. Is your waiting room kept at frigid temperatures or is it unbearably stuffy? Does it look dirty and dingy or decorated circa 1978? Are chairs supportive and comfortable, or stiff and unyielding? Giving your waiting area a regular facelift will make it a pleasant place to be. Add some updated reading material and a flat screen TV or aquarium for patients to look at while they wait.
3. When patients arrive, they face a long wait. Your patients are busy, just like you are, and have better things to do than sit in your waiting room. If patients are frequently waiting, reassess how much time you are allowing for certain procedures. Perhaps you need to allow more time. The problem could also be poor scheduling. A scheduling solution like Lighthouse 360 can help by simplifying appointment scheduling. You can even use it to text patients directly and let them know if there is a delay so they can arrive a little later.
4. Your front desk staff is unfriendly. If your front desk employees are dismissive, rude or abrupt with patients, it could cost you clients. When hiring new front desk employees, keep in mind while you can teach them how to do procedures, you can’t teach personality and attitude. Look for people with a friendly, outgoing nature and a patient attitude. If you have employees who aren’t sending the right message to patients, make improving their attitudes part of their regular review.
5. Your dental professionals scold them. When it comes to dental care, every patient has room for improvement. However, you and your technicians shouldn’t make patients feel bad by lecturing them about what they’re doing wrong. Explain in a calm, non-accusatory way what the patient could be doing better and what the outcome will be. It always helps to start with something positive: “You're doing a great job brushing your teeth. If you can floss more regularly, just once a day, your gums will be less sensitive and cleaning won't be painful next time I see you.”
6. The experience is uncomfortable. Getting a filling is never going to be pleasant, but there are things you can do to make the treatment experience more comfortable for the patient. Always ask patients how they are feeling during the procedure and what they need to be more comfortable. Give patients a way of letting you know when they need to take a break, such as raising their hand when their mouth is full of dental tools.
7. You make patients keep track of their own appointments. Let’s face it: Going to the dentist isn’t exactly 1st on anyone’s list of “fun things to do.” If you expect patients to keep track of when they are due for a cleaning or x-rays, you may not see them for quite a while. Implement a solution like Lighthouse 360 that automatically tracks when patients are due for cleanings, procedures or follow-up dental work. That way, neither you nor your patients have to think about it.
Fortunately, all these issues are easily remedied by making a few simple changes to your dental practice. Instead of driving patients nuts, you can drive them back to your practice for treatment again and again.