The need to get new patients in the door is only the first step to growth in your dental practice; to create a consistent flow of predictable repeat business, you need to focus on patient loyalty and satisfaction during multiple stages of the customer journey.
According to research by practicing analyst Lee Bentz, published in the California Dental Association, the average dental office has a patient retention rate of 65%—but why? A study by consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that 70% of a patient’s satisfaction is determined by how they perceive their treatment before, during, and after service.
With the wrong system in place, patients leave feeling like they simply made a transaction with your practice, and nothing more. With the right system in place, patients leave feeling welcomed, appreciated, and like their needs have been met.
By establishing the right systems for your practice, you’ll be able to convert cold one-time patients into life-long raving fans—meaning you can predictably scale your practice without worrying about where your next patients are coming from.
What Is a Satisfied Patient?
Before we dive into how to create raving fans, let’s first take a look at what a satisfied patient is. A satisfied patient is someone who has had their needs met and has had a positive experience with your practice—pretty simple. They are in the loop with appointment reminders, are welcomed and appreciated when they walk through the door, feel taken care of throughout their entire visit, and leave knowing they are a valued patient.
Satisfied patients are more likely to refer their friends and family members to your practice and they are also more likely to return for future visits. When their friends and family become patients, this creates a community of close people that all use your practice as their choice for dental care—amplifying loyalty for your practice even further.
Fundamentals of Creating Raving Fans
There are a few things that are foundational to increasing your customer loyalty rate and turning your patients into raving fans. We’ll cover the basics first, and then talk about what technology is most useful to help you accomplish these foundations. By following the processes below, you’ll create more repeat patients and a consistent flow of referrals.
Have Optimize Scheduling
One of the first steps to take is optimizing your scheduling. You need to ensure that you’re booking adequate time for each patient’s appointment and that you’re not overbooking yourself and your staff. This can be tricky, as it can be tempting to book multiple appointments back-to-back to maximize profits. However, this can often lead to rushed appointments and unhappy patients.
To ensure that each patient has enough time to complete their appointment, make sure to staff your office accordingly and increase the number of hands as your bookings start to fill up. Be sure to follow up with your team and ask if they feel rushed or stressed—they will help you understand if you’re overbooking for your practice.
Create a Loyalty Program
It’s beneficial to implement a loyalty program that provides your patients the incentive to return for future visits—if you don’t, your competition will. An example incentive could be a free exam after so many visits or a discount on a product or service.
Loyalty programs help track how often patients are returning. This can help identify any areas where patients may be unsatisfied and offer an incentive for patients to remain loyal to your practice for years to come.
Offer Extended Hours
Offering extended hours can be a powerful way to build lifelong fans. Patients who can receive service outside of the traditional 9-5 workday are happy to choose your practice over another. This is because they don’t have to take time off from work or rearrange their schedule.
Convenience is one of the ways you can win ravings fans. You don’t need to offer extended hours every day, but having a few days per week where you’re open late can go a long way in making your patients feel special.
Offer Online Scheduling
Another way to make your patients’ experience more pleasant is by implementing online scheduling. This allows patients to book appointments from the comfort of their own homes without speaking directly to front staff.
Your front staff could be spending hours on the phone with patients trying to book appointments, which can be a huge time-waster for your front staff.
With online scheduling, patients can see our availability and book their appointments without waiting on the phone—and it can sync flawlessly with the dental software you use.
Communicate With Patients
One of the biggest ways you can ensure patients are satisfied is by communicating with them before, during, and after their treatment. This could be something as simple as sending them a text after their appointment thanking them for coming in, or a sequence of reminders sent to their email or phone over several days.
By communicating with patients, you are able to ensure that they feel like their needs are always being met. When patients feel appreciated and taken care of, they care more about your practice in return and are more likely to talk about your excellent service to their friends and family.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to create raving fans is to ask for positive reviews. Patients are more likely to leave a glowing review if they had a good experience and feel their needs have been met.
It’s important to ask a patient how their visit was and allow them to give their honest feedback—this allows you to correct any issues your patient had with their service (if any) before asking them for a public review.
Asking for feedback in a follow-up text and email with a direct link to your reviews page will help your customers feel valued and help you build a trustworthy reputation in your community.
Technology to Make It All Possible
While each of these processes are simple to setup alone, it can become confusing trying to balance several different software solutions. Multiple fees, different customer support channels for different technology, and synchronizing everything together are just a few of the headaches you may encounter.
However—all of the core systems needed for customer loyalty in your business are handled by CareCru’s all-in-one team productivity and intelligent automation platform. Everything we talked about above, including online scheduling, reminders, waitlist management, online reviews, and patient loyalty features—Donna handles it all.
Happy patients are the lifeblood of any dental practice. By following the fundamentals above, you can ensure that your patients are happy and more likely to refer their friends and family members to your business. And, with the help of CareCru’s automation platform, you can automate these tasks without sacrificing time or hiring more staff.
You can schedule a free demonstration of the CareCru growth platform by going here. You’ll be glad you took a few minutes to choose the right system for hands-off growth and improved patient retention.