The dental industry has gone through a downtrend in the past two years as dental care was identified as one of the highest risk areas for spreading the coronavirus. As a result, many patients opted to postpone or cancel their dental treatments.
Fortunately, this trend is starting to reverse, and patients are now looking to get their oral health back on track. In the US, patient volume is almost back at pre-pandemic levels as of the end of last year. It is an indication that patients are slowly gaining confidence in their dental health providers as well as the safety protocols that are being implemented.
As the industry slowly recovers, there will be stronger competition to gain the patient’s attention. This applies not only to new patients, but to existing ones as well. After all, the gap between appointments has been quite long, and there is no guarantee that they will return to the same dentist that they used to see before the pandemic.
Thus, after overcoming the struggles of keeping their practice active during a pandemic, dentists must now face the challenge of patient retention and acquisition. To succeed with this, it is important to understand what patients are looking for when they choose a dentist:
Like any other doctor, dentists are also very busy, with their days filled with one appointment after another. But then, patients have their own commitments and schedules too. They specifically take the time off their schedule in order to see their dentist, and it can get frustrating to have their time wasted when their dentist is late for the appointment.
Of course there are many valid reasons why delays happen, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. Patients expect their dentist to respect their time and make an effort to see them as scheduled. If there are any unforeseen circumstances that can cause the dentist to be late, the patient should be informed in advance. The patient can then decide whether to re-schedule or to keep the appointment and just wait.
A patient’s experience with his dentist does not only involve the actual treatment, but the whole process, from setting an appointment to settling his bills. Regardless of their status and appearance, patients want their concerns to be treated with equal importance.
Dentists should walk themselves through the patient’s experience and check if there are any protocols or procedures that make it difficult for the patient to get the treatment that they need, then look for ways to improve the process. They should also ensure the patient’s comfort once they step inside the clinic and until they leave after their appointment. This includes the attitude of the staff, the ambiance inside the clinic, and the behavior of the dentist himself.
3. Positive Feedback
Positive reviews play a major role in a patient’s choice of a dentist. An online survey has revealed that almost 90% of patients decided on their current dentist after reading their available feedback on the internet. In fact, many patients specifically search online for the purpose of checking reviews while looking for a new dentist.
Reviews are also able to trigger an immediate response as about 60% of patients claimed to have followed up with an actual clinic visit after seeing positive reviews online. This is why getting the dental clinic at the top of search results, particularly for local searches, is critical for patient acquisition. As such, dentists would benefit from working with a dentist marketing company who can help them refine their strategy and strengthen their online presence.
Patients choose dentists whom they can trust to take care of their oral health with the least possible risk. That means they expect their dentist to have the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge to give them the treatment they need in order to feel better.
Aside from this, patients also want to feel safe from other threats to their health when they are in the clinic. Because the pandemic is still not over, patients are hyper-conscious about safety protocols. Dentists should let them know that the clinic is fully compliant with regulations and share with them the steps that have been taken to ensure their safety.
5. Personal Touch
Another survey has revealed that patients consider the overall quality of the dental care services as one of the top 3 most important traits they look for in a dentist. Aside from their experience while inside the clinic, patients also appreciate dentists who go the extra mile in showing that they care.
Simple gestures like reminding them of their appointment and thanking them afterwards can go a long way towards improving the relationship between dentists and their patients. Having the dentist take the time to explain each treatment and procedure are also much appreciated.
In between treatments, dentists should also reach out to check their condition and remind them of any regimen they need to observe, as well as alleviate any concern they may have during this time. When possible, dentists can also get in touch with their patients during special occasions such as holidays and birthdays just to send their greetings.