It's the most wonderful time of the year—for getting dormant dental patients back into your office, that is. The winter holidays are a natural time to reach out and tell people how much they mean to you, and that goes for your patients, too.
A couple of 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.
Here are some ideas for using holiday communications to reactivate dormant patients.
Send a greeting card.
Are you sending greeting cards to colleagues and regular patients? It’s a great way to build lasting relationships. Why not add your dormant patients to the mailing list, too? Include a reminder of how long ago their last visit was and jot a handwritten note telling them how much you’d love to see them back in your office again so you can continue to help them maintain their dental health. You can get more attention for your 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.
If you're on a budget, a holiday-themed postcard can serve the same purpose as a greeting card in reactivating dormant patients. Just be sure you use eye-catching design and colors to grab the recipient's attention.
Do you want to get a bit more persuasive than a greeting card message can? Consider creating a letter you can send to dormant patients, either on its own or inserted in a greeting card. A letter gives you space to go into more detail about why that patient’s dental care is so important to you. For example, you can mention specific concerns you have about their dental health.
Tap into New Year’s Resolutions.
“Take better care of myself” is the fourth most common New Year’s resolution. According to a recent survey, self-care is a goal for 24% of people who make resolutions in January. If your holiday-themed card or letter doesn't get the desired result, try again in late December or early January with a message meant to motivate dormant patients to care for their teeth. In addition to preventive dental care, you can also promote cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as teeth whitening or veneers, 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, postcard or letter, follow up in a week or so by sending an email tailored to the patient. 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.
Following up your other communications with a personal phone call adds a special touch. Your call or voice mail message should touch on the concerns you mentioned in your mail and email communications.
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. At the end of the communication, ask the patient why they haven’t returned. Then see how you can help.
For instance, if a patient lost his health insurance, 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. Did a patient switch dentists because your hygienist was rude? Then you can talk to the employee. By finding out what causes patient attrition, you’ll be able to provide a better patient experience going forward.
Lighthouse 360 makes it easy to reach out to dormant patients by automatically sending them customized emails and letters from your practice. You can target emails to different types of patients, such as patients in different demographics, those with treatment recommendations they haven't followed up on, or those who simply need regular preventive care.