“Customer experience” is a key differentiator for businesses today, and dental offices are no different. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has brought to dentistry, there are still ways to create positive, memorable experiences for your patients—it just takes a little more creativity than it used to.
Customer experience encompasses everything from how your employees answer the phone to your email communications and in-office experience. 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. That’s especially important right now, when the majority of dental practices aren’t yet back to full patient volume due to COVID-19 closures.
Here are six tips for delivering convenience, personalization and a memorable patient experience that can overcome the hurdles the pandemic brings.
Demonstrate your safety standards.
Among the elements patients have always found most important in demonstrating dental professionalism are adherence to sterilization and infection control rules and procedures, personal hygiene, and clean professional attire. Make sure to keep up with the latest COVID-19 recommendations from the ADA, CDC and local health authorities to ensure your practice is staying safe. Then get creative about implementing their recommendations with patient comfort in mind.
For instance, you can use Lighthouse 360 to set up a Virtual Waiting Room for reduced patient contact. Patients can complete registration forms on their phones with Lighthouse 360’s Patient FastTrack feature and wait safely in their cars until their treatment chair is ready.
Communicate clearly with patients.
It’s now more important than ever to maintain strong communication with patients—and Lighthouse 360 has the tools to help you. You can use Lighthouse 360’s eblast feature to alert patients to the safety protocols you’re using, while the Automated Recall feature automatically contacts patients via text, email, phone call or postcard when they’re due for an appointment. Henry Schein has created sample scripts dental practices can use to create COVID-19 related templates for communicating with patients.
Understand what your patients expect.
In order to meet patient expectations, you have to know what they are. Capture feedback from your patients to find out what they would like to see from your practice. If you have patients who haven’t visited all year, use email marketing or text messaging ask them what would bring them back. Listen and act on what you learn.
To succeed in today’s new environment, dental practices must be adaptable to rapidly changing regulations and patient needs. For example, home schooling and working from home are affecting patients’ schedules. You may need to adjust your office hours to include nights or weekends to accommodate patients.
You should also expect patient cancellations to crop up more often than usual. Be ready to handle them, and be sure to waive any late cancellation fees you normally charge. Lighthouse 360’s Fill-In feature can help keep your chairs full by finding cancellations and automatically contacting patients who may be interested in the appointment.
Provide a personal touch.
Being treated by dentists and hygienists clad in full personal protective equipment can be intimidating for patients. Look for ways to personalize patient experiences and create a human connection. For example, you and your team can wear photo badges with pictures of your smiling faces, or post photos in the waiting room and on your website.
Another way to personalize interactions is by choosing the communication method that each patient prefers, whether that’s text, phone calls or emails. Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to engage with patients in their preferred format so you can follow up after a patient’s appointment to check on them or thank them for their visit—and maintain those relationships.
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’s Patient FastTrack and Virtual Waiting Room can make an instant, positive impression on your patients. No one wants to touch a pen or clipboard others have used or spend time in a waiting room with strangers. With Patient FastTrack, they don’t have to—and you can customize the registration forms to your practice’s needs.