Making the experience of visiting your practice the best it can be goes a long way when it comes to inspiring patient loyalty.
Going the extra mile in creating an excellent patient journey can also help to win new business as happy patients will recommend you to others and, possibly with a little nudge, leave you a positive online review.
It’s a win-win situation for patients and practices, so how can you ensure that you’re making the journey memorable for all the right reasons.
Below are my five top tips to do just that:
Walk the patient journey
You work in your practice every day, so you’ve got used to seeing it the way it is and don’t notice things that the fresh eyes of a new patient might. Take yourself outside and walk the patient journey, judging it from their perspective. Is it clean? Is it presentable? Are the posters dusty and worn? Is the information on them up to date? Put yourself in their shoes and ask if you’d be happy with what you see.
When handling new enquiries, make sure to ask plenty of open questions about the patient. Engaging in a conversation will help you to find out more about how you can help them clinically, enabling you to give them a better service, and will already begin laying the foundations for a strong relationship. You may find out nuggets of information, such as they have an upcoming special occasion or are new to the area, which can be passed onto the dentist so they bring it up when they see them and start building rapport.
We all know it can get very busy on the front desk. There’s bound to be a time when a patient comes in and the receptionist is on the phone. If this is the case, they should try to make sure the patient is always acknowledged in some way, even if it’s just a small gesture or a smile. You may even want to include this as part of your policy/staff handbook. It’s a small thing but it’s important – feeling ignored is frustrating for the patient, and that first interaction will set the tone for the rest of their experience.
Don’t neglect the time just before and just after the appointment. You can take your patients’ experience to another level simply by collecting them from the waiting room, walking them to the surgery and walking with them back to the desk at the end. This will give you some valuable additional minutes to chat informally to them, and continue building that relationship. It also ensures the right information is passed from the clinicians to the front desk, and gives opportunity for the patient to ask any questions they may not have felt comfortable asking during the appointment.
The same language
Make sure you speak the same language as your patient, by which I mean drop the dental jargon and speak in terms they understand. This is not just relevant for face-to-face conversations but also applies to letters, your website, marketing literature, etc. When explaining a treatment to them, don’t bamboozle them with the technical aspects. Simplify what is involved and how it could benefit them. They will feel less confused and more in control of what’s happening to them.
There you have it, five ways to enhance the patient journey and not just meet their expectations, but exceed them.