Three Ways to Wow Your Patients Before They Ever Enter Your Practice

Feature article from the DeW Life Magazine Autumn 2020

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People are funny. They know they should go to the dentist regularly, yet more than half of Americans don’t take care of their oral health.

That’s why it’s so important to make a great impression when a potential patient finally decides that it’s time to find a dentist. There are three ways you can wow your patients before they ever enter your practice. These are all free, and they are designed to (1) generate the phone call to your practice; (2) generate a booked appointment; and (3) reassure the patient so he or she actually shows up and accepts treatment.

Wow Patients with Excellent Google Reviews

How do new patients find you? They typically start by Googling “dentist near me.” What commenters say on your Google My Business listing may influence whether they choose to call you or your competitor.

Google reviews can be a double-edged sword for marketing. It seems unhappy people are much more likely to leave a review than happy ones. That’s been especially true during the pandemic. Many service industries are reporting an increase in the number of bad reviews they’re receiving.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to beat back bad reviews. The key is to bury them by consistently adding a few good reviews from happy patients each week.

When I was the marketing director at a DSO with almost 300 practices, we created a company-wide initiative to increase the number of positive Google reviews.

The goal: add two 5-star reviews for each practice each week.

I can tell you that many practice managers groaned when they saw this. It felt like extra work, and weren’t they doing enough by just emailing or texting a link to patients after their appointments?

Here’s the secret: You get better reviews when you ask for them while the patient is still in the office.

Here are the steps:

  1. Teach every member of your team how to review a business. It’s against Google’s policy to review your own place of work, but your team can practice by leaving reviews for their favorite restaurant, hairstylist or local store. Once your team sees how easy it is, they’ll feel more comfortable asking your patients to take the time to write a review.
  2. Only ask happy patients to review your office. When a patient is beaming because you got them out of pain, restored their smile or removed their braces, that’s the time to ask for a review. Simply say, “I am so glad that you’re happy! Would you take a minute to write a Google review for us before you leave? I can show you how to do it right from your phone, and it will only take about a minute. It would mean a lot to us.”
  3. Have the patient take out their phone, and verbally walk the patient through the buttons to push. First, go to Google maps and have the patient type in the name of your practice in the search bar at the top. Google will display a list of companies. Tap the correct one. Have the patient use their finger to scroll up a few times until they see the “Reviews” section. They’ll see your Google rating, and then they’ll see an area that says “Rate & Review” with five empty stars. They click the fifth star (on the far right) and that will take them to the next area where they can add their comment. This is important! Have them write a sentence or two about their experience and then click “Post.”

That’s it! The key is to make sure the happy patient leaves a comment and not just the star rating. Google’s algorithm shows reviews with comments higher than reviews without comments. Plus, the comments are what will attract potential patients who are researching your practice before making the decision to call.

Google’s algorithm also rewards the slow and steady addition of new reviews, which is why you want to add a few each week. It’s more likely to show your practice higher in search results, which can help with new patient acquisition.

There are more benefits to having positive Google reviews each week. First, it makes your team feel good. We used to share the reviews during morning huddle, and it was a great way to start the day. Second, it helps with hiring. Potential team members are more likely to want to work for a practice with great reviews; and in a tight job market, having great reviews will help you attract highly qualified employees.

Wow Patients on the Phone

Your phone is the lifeline for your practice, yet almost 50% of new patient calls don’t end with a scheduled appointment.

Patient Prism has analyzed more than 4 million dental practice phone calls to find out why. It often comes down to a few simple tweaks that can make a big difference in your call conversion success.

First, build rapport with the caller by asking for the caller’s name and using it frequently throughout the conversation. This helps the caller feel like a person and not a number.

Second, keep the focus on the clinical reason for the call. Many callers jump right into questions about pricing. Redirect the conversation by saying, “I’d be happy to answer all your questions. Could I get a little more information first? Can you tell me about the problem that you’re having? Is it causing any pain or sensitivity?”

By keeping the patient focused on the clinical need and not on money, you have the opportunity to build value and establish the urgency level. Does the caller have a specific timeline in mind? Has the caller already seen a dentist and is seeking a second opinion? Since the caller has chosen to call you, your team has the chance to wow the patient with your customer service and compassion.

There are many ways to overcome concerns about cost, insurance coverage, scheduling and the other obstacles that can stop a potential patient from receiving the care he or she needs. It all comes down to effective phrasing. Patient Prism offers free resources to help dental practices know what to say on the phone.

Wow Patients with this 2-Minute Technique

There’s still one more step on the patient journey before you can impress them with your clinical skills. You need to have them show up for the appointment.

One effective way to reduce no-shows is to have the dentist place a quick two-minute phone call the night before the appointment. By simply saying, “Hi, Mrs. Jones, this is Dr. Smith. I just wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and let you know that I’m looking forward to meeting you tomorrow. We take a lot of pride in providing excellent customer service, and that’s why I wanted to give you a quick call tonight.”

It’s an easy way to wow the patient and start building the relationship. When people like you and trust you, they are more likely to want to do business with you. That not only reduces no-shows but increases case acceptance.

In this crazy time, it’s more important than ever to create a bond with potential patients. People remember how you make them feel. When you make them feel special, when you treat them as a valued guest, when they’ve read the reviews left by other patients who had a great experience with you, then they’re much more likely to choose you over your competitor. And when they’ve come in and been wowed by your in-office patient experience, then they’ll write a new Google review for you too. It becomes a cycle of excellence that will keep your chair full.

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Beth Gaddis is passionate about connecting patients with dentists. As the marketing director for two large DSOs, she designed marketing campaigns, online reputation strategies, and new websites for hundreds of dentists across the country. As the Vice President of Marketing at Patient Prism, she helps dentists understand if their marketing efforts are working and how they can convert more callers into new patient appointments. Prior to dental marketing, Beth was a journalist who worked at several television stations in Massachusetts and Florida. She also worked at The Tampa Tribune newspaper, where she met her husband, Carter, who was a sports reporter. They have two children

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