Keeping the patients you have is important to the health of your dental practice.
Dental practices put so much effort into getting new patients through marketing and patient referral programs that it can be disappointing when you notice patients leaving your office for another practice. Retaining them is equally important as attaining them, which puts another task on you and your team to work on keeping them in the office. There are a few common reasons patients may be leaving your practice, but they can usually be easily resolved and hopefully your office can turn into the practice where all of them want to be.
1. Too pushy with treatment.
Dentistry is certainly a blended combination of healthcare and business. While you want to provide the highest level of oral healthcare for your patients, try to put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes someone’s lifestyle and budget don’t make room for expensive dental treatments like implants or veneers. Offer all options and appropriate treatment plans for customers so they can make a comfortable, sound decision. If you’re constantly pushing for expensive treatments that a patient cannot afford, they may back off and look for an office that is less demanding.
2. Conflicts with your dental personnel.
Your staff is a major reflection upon your practice so if your office staff is not friendly or caring towards patients, it may cost you. Patients who are treated rudely on the phone or cannot easily make appointments may leave your office for a more accommodating practice. Have a meeting with your team to review how they speak to clients and how to make them feel more like family than a number.
3. Rushed services.
If you and your team are constantly running from operatory to operatory seeing patients, they may feel like they’re at a dental mill. Many of them won’t like having their healthcare visits rushed especially when they are nervous or they have concerns about their teeth. Try to give them the time they need to discuss treatment and deliver the quality care they deserve.
4. Too long a waiting time.
Just like patients don’t like feeling rushed, they don’t like waiting extended periods of time. It’s a balancing act! Have your staff be on time with their appointments and schedule appropriately. If you’re going to double book, ensure there is enough of your clinical team to see patients without them having to wait long periods of time for dental cleanings or treatment.
5. Constantly referring patients out for specialized services.
If you are always referring patients out for dental treatment, it may look like you’re not qualified to treat complex dental cases. It is also more of a hassle for a patient to always be looking for a specialist. Consider taking additional continuing education courses like the American Orthodontic Society’s Basic Straight Wire course to learn about orthodontics. This way instead of a revolving door, your patients will want to come to you because they know you provide comprehensive dental care.
6. Unorganized administrative staff.
Everyone makes a mistake here and there with scheduling, but if your front desk or office manager is constantly making mistakes with appointments or bills, your patients will notice. No one wants an unnecessary bill in the mail or an incorrect appointment time. Have your employees be meticulous with their records and always double check a patient is due at the time of the recall exam with their insurance carrier.
7. Poor communication skills.
You and your team need to communicate effectively with clients. Whether you are discussing a detailed treatment plan or your hygienist is recommending improvements on oral habits, make sure you’re using terms that they can understand and not technical verbiage. This extends to your front desk too. If your office is not an in-network provider with a patient’s insurance, try relaying this information clearly on the phone to avoid having patients frustrated and upset when they learn you’re out-of-network and they may have a large out-of-pocket cost. No one likes being deceived or miscommunicated with and it will leave you with clients looking for other practices.
8. Lack of updated technology.
Are you paperless? Do you offer digital technology like Cone Beam, in-office crowns, and orthodontics? If not, your office may be outdated and you need an upgrade. Dentistry is all about the highest levels of technology and the best materials to create beautiful, healthy smiles. When customers notice that your office is not state-of-the-art, it may make them think you’re not investing in your patients and cause them to look elsewhere for treatment.
9. Low presence on social media.
Social media is a necessary tool to keep in contact with patients and show updates about your office. Whether you choose to use Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform, make sure your dental practice is recognized online. If your practice has a low profile online, potential clients may want to look for a more well-recognized practice thinking they offer a better service.
10. Poor reviews.
Good reviews can always help, but a bad review will inevitably put a bad taste in someone’s mouth. Encourage patients to leave positive reviews if they had a pleasant visit to show new patients your office is a keeper. If a patient leaves a poor review, call them to gently discuss their concerns and how you can improve their next visit. Hopefully it will prevent them from leaving your practice or leaving another poor review.
You can turn it around.
Diagnosing the issue is always the first step to treatment and healing. Take a step back and put yourself through the full patient experience. You’ll find where to start.
To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.