The 2020 holiday season will look much different than normal, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, but one thing hasn’t changed. This is still a natural time to reach out and tell people how much they mean to you. That makes the holidays the perfect time to reactivate dormant patients.
A few other factors make November and December prime time for contacting dormant patients:
Patients with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or Flexible Spending Arrangements (FSAs) may have funds they need to use or lose by year-end.
Healthcare is likely to be on your patients' minds this time of year because it's open enrollment season for many medical and dental insurance plans, such as those associated with Obamacare.
Try these ideas for using holiday communications to reactivate dormant patients.
Send a greeting card.
Sending holiday greeting cards to colleagues and regular patients is a great way to build lasting relationships—especially at this time, when people are eager for connection. Why not add your dormant patients to the mailing list, too?
Tell them how much you’d love to see them back again so you can continue to help them maintain their dental health. Briefly mention the steps you’re taking to keep your office safe, such as using Lighthouse 360’s tools to implement a Virtual Waiting Room, and direct them to your website to learn more.
You can get more attention for a greeting card by including a small promotional or gift item, such as a travel-sized toothbrush, sugar-free gum or mini dental floss, in the envelope. This will make the letter “bumpy” and spark the recipient’s curiosity about what’s inside.
Tap into New Year’s Resolutions.
“Take better care of myself” is a common New Year’s resolution, and this year self-care has been on everyone’s agenda. If your holiday-themed card doesn't get the desired result from dormant patients, try again in late December or early January with a letter meant to motivate dormant patients to care for their teeth. With Lighthouse 360, it’s easy to automatically send customized letters tailored for dormant patients.
Your letter can educate patients about stress-related dental problems caused by the pandemic, such as gum inflammation, jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding, so they can spot symptoms that may indicate a bigger issue. In addition to preventive dental care, you can also promote cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as at-home teeth whitening, that may tie in with New Year’s resolutions to improve one’s appearance. (Here are some New Year’s resolutions you might want to make while you’re at it.)
Follow up with email.
Once you've sent your greeting card or letter, follow up in a week or so by sending an email tailored to the patient. Lighthouse 360 lets you easily create email blasts tailored to your dormant patients. Ask them if they received your reminder and include links that make it easy for them to contact your office. For example, if you offer online appointment scheduling, make the link to that feature prominent in the email. Make sure the email is mobile-friendly and include a click-to-call button that patients checking their email on their phones can use to make an appointment on the spot.
Your email should explain the safety measures your office is taking to protect patients from COVID-19. You can even include a short video “tour” of what a typical appointment looks like, from curbside check-in to the personal protective equipment that staff wears.
Following up your other communications with a personal phone call adds a special touch—especially for patients who may be feeling isolated at home. Your call or voice mail message should touch on the concerns you mentioned in your mail and email communications. If you get through to the patient, take the time to hold a real conversation and address their concerns about visiting the dentist. (Check out this video for more ideas on communicating with patients during the pandemic.)
Get the facts.
Whether you send a letter, email or make a phone call, take the opportunity to find out what’s keeping the patient from coming back. Then see how you can help.
For instance, if a patient lost his job and his health insurance due to the pandemic, you can let him know about any dental discount programs you participate in. If a patient can’t afford the co-pays for the recommended treatment, tell them about financing or payment plan options that you offer, such as CareCredit.