Why It Is Important and How It Shapes a Successful Practice
Dentistry is a demanding and high stress field. It’s easy to fall into a trap where the value of patient care and satisfaction is lost or neglected, and you begin to treat patients as a number or statistic, even if only subconsciously. This takes the ‘care’ out of healthcare. Patients hate feeling like customers, and it’s obvious to them when they aren’t valued. Undervaluing a patient is the quickest way to lose them. SmileMakers explains why improving your chairside manner is important and how to accomplish it.
Why Do You Need Good Chairside Manner?
Not all dentists are naturally outgoing and amiable. Dentistry isn’t a performance art and, at times, is profoundly tiring. However, the trust and safety of your patients should be a priority, and so much of that is tied to chairside manner. But why is this?
- Fear & Anxiety:
Most Americans avoid the dentist whenever they can. The American Association of Endodontists discovered that 80% of American adults have some type of fear associated with dentists. Almost half those people will not visit the dentist due to that fear. The cause for dental anxiety almost exclusively stems from a bad experience at a dentist’s office. By improving the way you interact with your patients, you’re encouraging them to return and share the good service they received. Helping them overcome dental anxiety will encourage loyalty and ensure that you retain their patronage going forward.
- One Negative Experience:
Most first-time patients don’t give second chances. If they have a negative experience at your dental office, they are unlikely to return. Once there has been a positive relationship established, patients are more trusting and forgiving. These returning patients are the foundation for a successful practice, so fostering a healthy relationship from the beginning is a priority.
- Bad Reviews:
Poor chairside manner doesn’t just lead to fewer second chances. Sometimes it leads to no chances at all. In a world where 84% of adults say that they prefer online reviews to personal recommendations, reviews have become all important. While good reviews can garner new patients, it only takes a few bad reviews to tarnish your reputation. If you get criticisms, follow up with the reviewer to resolve the situation. Don’t let those reviews linger unaddressed!
How Do You Improve Chairside Manner?
If you struggle to bond with your patients, remember, it’s the little details that will help your patients feel valued and understood. Here is some wisdom from experts in patient care:
- First impressions matter – Start off your interactions with a smile and introduction. It can disarm wary or skeptical patients. A warm and inviting office matters here too. Stale and sterile or simply unclean offices will make patients uneasy from the beginning.
- Prioritize your patient – Don’t allow yourself to get distracted when with a patient. They’ll notice and it will frustrate them. Focus all of your attention on your patient during the time you have together. It’ll make all the difference.
- Learn about their lives – It shows you value them as people. You may find you share interests!
- Be an active listener – Hear, but also remember. Active listening will foster a good relationship. If you have trouble remembering specifics about each patient, jot down a few things they tell you each visit. It’ll make it easier to start a conversation next time and show you value them.
You’ll also improve your patient relationships through clarity and sincerity. Many patients worry about the cost of dental care. Talking patients through their options honestlywhile also being considerate of their situation will go a long way. Clarity also pertains to explaining their procedures. If they ask, do not be afraid to give a candid yet considerate response. If it will hurt, don’t lie about it! Honesty shows value – you don’t lie to those you care about. Using humor or other deflection techniques isn’t a good idea either. Sincerity is comforting.
Strong patient relationships can and should extend past the office experience. Following up with a patient after a procedure is one of the best things you can do to improve your relationship. Showing you care and that you see your patients as real people and not just slots on your schedule will make all the difference. Calls, emails or personal notes are easy and effective ways to prove that you value them.
In the end, running a successful dental practice isn’t only about being a good dentist; it’s about the care you show for your patients. It’s that care that will bring them back again and again.
Looking for other ways to show you care?
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Carter AE, Carter G, Boschen M, AlShwaimi E, George R. Pathways of fear and anxiety in dentistry: A review. World Journal of Clinical Cases : WJCC. 2014;2(11):642-653. doi:10.12998/wjcc.v2.i11.642. Retrieved From:
BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey. (2016). Retrieved from: https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/