Going to the dentist makes many people nervous, especially if they’re self-conscious about their teeth or worried that a procedure might be painful. Having a good relationship with you and your staff can make all the difference in whether or not patients return to your practice for regular dental care. How can you build a good relationship with your dental patients?
- Begin at the beginning. Whenever you get a new patient, put a lot of effort into welcoming them into your practice. For example, you can send them a welcome text or email (provided they've signed up to receive such communications from you) prior to the appointment to let them know what to expect, such as any forms they’ll need to fill out or a reminder to bring their insurance information. Lighthouse patient communication tools make it easy to create and send customized emails tailored for new patients; you can even text back-and-forth with patients directly from the Lighthouse portal.
- Be authentic. Patients know when you're trying to "fake it" or be someone you’re not. Tap into your genuine curiosity about other people to ask patients questions about themselves, their families and their lives. You'll undoubtedly find some common interests or conversational avenues to pursue. After the patient’s visit, make notes of what you learned so that you can follow up on these topics at the patient's next appointment.
- Show patients you care. One way you can build a strong relationship with patients is by demonstrating that you care about their dental health. Lighthouse patient communication tools, for instance, allow you to automatically contact patients when they are due for a hygiene appointment, follow up on treatment plans so patients don't miss important treatments, and even reach out to dormant patients to get them back in the office.
- Listen more than you talk. There’s a “sales” aspect to gaining treatment acceptance from patients—and like any salesperson, dental professionals can learn a lot by listening. Talk less and listen more, and you’ll uncover what matters to the patient, as well as any objections they may have to recommended treatments. For example, if a new patient admits he hasn't gone to the dentist in a couple years because he was out of work and couldn't afford it, you probably shouldn’t suggest $3,000 worth of dental work right away. Start small, recommending treatment for the most pressing issues, to gain the patient's trust.
- Share information among the dental practice team. Dental hygienists (and sometimes even front office staff) often spend more time conversing with patients than dentists do. All of your employees should be educated in how to build patient relationships, starting with gathering information about patients. That knowledge should be shared with the rest of the team and recorded in your patient records. For example, if your receptionist learns that a patient is getting married in six months, you may want to broach the subject of cosmetic dentistry that can give the patient a beautiful smile for the wedding photos.
- Interact on social media. Personal interactions are key to building patient relationships, but these days, digital interactions matter, too. Maintaining an active presence for your dental practice on the social media sites where your patients spend time will create bonds and help them feel like you're part of their lives. Lighthouse 360 can simplify the process by enabling you to easily post to Facebook directly from the Lighthouse portal.
Follow these six steps and watch stronger patient relationships follow!