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Remember why you’re in business – to help patients. That’s why you went to dental school, yes? But you didn’t become a dentist to market your practice. And, if you’re like many dentists, you really don’t care for that aspect of the business. However, marketing and patient care go hand in hand. You have to keep your practice thriving to continue to help patients, and getting more and better patients is the key to thriving.
Focusing first on patients, from initial contact through after-treatment follow-up, will make you a more profitable dentist and help you reach your goals.
A blog at Entrepreneur.com not long ago offered businesses three ways they could grow by focusing on the customer. There are immediate benefits for dentists. Here are the suggestions and some thoughts on them:
First, “use social media to engage directly with customers.” Of course, dentists aren’t like retailers in that people don’t purchase commodities over and over again. But you could potentially use social media to encourage existing patients to continue seeing you as their regular dentist and to expand their existing “purchases” by considering cosmetic or elective procedures like whitening, veneers or teeth alignment.
One of the keys to effective use of social media is regularity. One post a month isn’t likely to bring much in the way of results. On the other hand, no one likes having their Facebook feed blown up by post after post. Strike a comfortable balance for everyone.
Second, “send handwritten notes to customers.” No way. This is not a good use of your time or your staff’s time. But the principle is good. You should use automated emails such as we offer through Infusionsoft to stay in touch with prospects and existing patients who could be prospects for additional services. Staying in front of the patient is vital for repeat business. Top-of-mind awareness is vital, and – assuming that you also pay attention to the last point below – will bring you more referrals.
Finally, “obsess about customers.” That means do everything you can to please patients. Make sure they are comfortable, treated politely and want to visit you. More and more, your customers’ experience is not defined by what happens in the chair. That’s only part of the equation.
The customer experience begins with first contact with your practice. That may be through a website visit, on social media, or by word of mouth. If that first contact is in any way negative or off-putting, you’ve likely lost a new patient. If that first contact is informative, helpful, and pleasant, you stand a good chance of getting that patient.
So, enhancing the customer experience applies to your current as well as potential patients. How are patients greeted when they call or walk into your practice? How are your staff perceived–concerned, helpful and competent, or rushed and impatient? What does your waiting room say about your practice? Are you doing follow-up with patients after they’ve had work done to make sure everything’s okay?
Effective use of social media, staying in front of your existing patients, and enhancing the patient experience. The more you focus on these three keys to growing your practice, the more likely your patients are to stay, pay and refer.