4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Patient Retention
We all look for ways to keep our customers coming back. Existing relationships are our best investments after all. But how do you get patients to trust you, to feel that they can come to you with any issues, and to make the whole process easy? We have 4 ways to get you started!
#1: Set Up a Recall Program
Patients need friendly reminders, but sometimes assigning staff members the task of calling and confirming appointments can be tedious, time consuming, and potentially take away from other in-office duties. Take some pressure off your front desk and help get existing patients in the door by establishing a recall program.
- First Send Recall Cards – Patients like a physical reminder of their appointment. That’s where recall cards come in handy! You can send them a few weeks before the patient’s appointment, or as a reminder to schedule a visit. And with endless options for so many types of practices, you can always find the perfect card to send to any patient.
- Follow Up With Automated Texts – Patients who opt-in to receive texts find it easier to respond to a message rather than taking a phone call. They’re effective when received closer to the appointment day – 1 week to 24 hours in advance. Plus, a patient can respond directly to the text and help keep your schedule up-to-date.
#2: It’s all about the In-Office Experience
Patients value their experiences. And that extends to the doctor’s office. From blankets and Netflix during a procedure to a goodie bag at the end of a visit, little creature comforts go a long way in showing patients you care.
- The Waiting Room – Coloring books and Fidget Toys keep kids distracted while they're waiting for their turn with the doctor. It’ll make appointments feel fun and ease nerves for anxious children.
- The Chair – If it’s within budget, televisions, blankets, noise canceling headphones and music can keep patients relaxed during treatment. Want to dabble without fully committing a budget? Try incorporating a few inexpensive options, like moist hand towels for cleaning up, and look for positive responses!
- After The Appointment – Give them something to remember you by with goodie bags from SmileMakers! You can fill them with toys and prizes, dental kits and stickers so patients always remember your office as a positive experience.
#3: Manners Matter
Good chairside and bedside manner are important. And that means more than acknowledging someone when they feel uncomfortable during a procedure.
- Learn To Listen – As doctors, when patients come in for treatment, they’re entering your wheelhouse. You know what you’re doing, and the procedures you recommend need to get done to achieve optimal health. But patients need to feel that their concerns are heard. They’re letting go of a great deal of control when entering your office, and that can be intimidating. It’s worth it to take a few extra minutes to hear anything a patient has to say and ensure they feel comfortable moving forward.
- Don’t Push – Sometimes patients come in with issues that need to be addressed immediately, and there’s a tendency to speak with urgency in order to get that point across. But the wrong tone can leave patients feeling judged or pressured into treatment. They might start to question your judgement and motives. You may lose the patient, or worse, the patient might get scared and never seek treatment for the condition. Unless it’s a life-threatening emergency, try to take a step back. Read the person and the situation. How can you provide a diagnosis that is free of judgement and ensures a patient will want to seek treatment? There’s a lot that can go into this answer and each patient will be different. It might be helpful to take notes on personality types and research what’s the best approach.
- Be Understanding – Sometimes you’ll see patients who are anxious about their appointments, concerned with cost of treatment, or just haven’t had great experiences with doctors. Perhaps they’re in so much pain, they aren’t their usual selves. Whatever the scenario, it’s important to have empathy for the patient and their situation. If anxiety is the problem, offering sedation during the procedure could put them at ease. If it’s a financial issue, offering payment plans or discounts could help a great deal. It takes a little extra effort to alleviate these issues, but it’ll help gain your patient’s trust.
#4: Get Social!
Social media is everywhere, and it’s here to stay. Take advantage of that. What may seem like a frivolous pastime can keep you connected to patients, inside and outside the office. Pick a few platforms you’re comfortable with and start curating your posts, feeds and pages.
You don’t have to be all business, all the time. This is an opportunity for patients to get to know you outside of our practice. Humanizing an authority figure, like a doctor, helps patients feel more comfortable with you. Opening up your life a bit will help them relate to you as a person, and gain their trust.
Interested in creature comforts for patient retention?
Find more ways to engage with and retain your patients at SmileMakers, your #1 source for patient rewards, practice supplies, and practice communications.