2.5.10 Issue #413 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Belle DuCharme CDPMA
Instructor/Consultant
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Marketing to Meet the Patient's Needs

A recent phone conversation to a dental practice went like this:
Patient:  Hi, I am interested in making an appointment to see the dentist.
Office:  Have you been here before?
Patient:  No, it’s my first time.
Office:  Do you have any dental insurance?
Patient:  No, does that matter?
Office:  Oh no, we just need to know how you are going to pay.
Patient:  Cash.
Office:  Okay and that will be due at your first appointment.
Patient:  I haven’t told you what I need yet.
Office:  How did you hear about us?
Patient:  My neighbor, John Wilkes, said Dr. K was good.
Office:  Great, he is nice. I don’t have anything for almost three weeks, are you in pain?
Patient:  If it gets me in sooner, I am.
Office:  Okay, what is it that you need? I’m sorry, what was your name?

From a clinical standpoint, no one knows the dentist as a provider until the initial meeting and the comprehensive examination takes place.  Before this meeting, several things need to happen before a consumer becomes a patient in your practice.

First, there is the need for dental services. Perhaps the person’s teeth are stained or the gums bleed when brushed, maybe a tooth is broken.  Whatever the reason, the patient is now motivated to seek dental care. Second, there is the quest to find a dentist who can answer the need.  Will this dentist have a clean and up to date practice? Will the charges be reasonable? Will the staff and dentist be friendly and gentle? What exactly is this patient looking for in a dental practice? Third, is hearing the words, “I would like to make an appointment, please.”

Is it difficult for the dentist to make a positive impression on a potential patient prior to meeting them?  Not from a marketing standpoint. Some patients use the yellow pages and are attracted by the services offered, hours and location. Some ask friends, co-workers or relatives for a referral to a good dentist. Other people immediately go online to see the practice website. This often happens prior to the person phoning the office. If you don’t have a website, you could come across as being “behind the times” in your treatment services or that your practice lacks detail in providing important information to the consumer. External marketing is what pushes the patient to make that phone call.  Where there can be a significant disconnect is when the patient reaches the dental office by phone and the personal relationship that was in its infancy suddenly dies after the initial phone contact with someone at the office. 

Is it difficult for the dentist to make a positive impression on a potential patient prior to meeting them?  Not from a marketing standpoint. Some patients use the yellow pages and are attracted by the services offered, hours and location. Some ask friends, co-workers or relatives for a referral to a good dentist. Other people immediately go online to see the practice website. This often happens prior to the person phoning the office. If you don’t have a website, you could come across as being “behind the times” in your treatment services or that your practice lacks detail in providing important information to the consumer. External marketing is what pushes the patient to make that phone call.  Where there can be a significant disconnect is when the patient reaches the dental office by phone and the personal relationship that was in its infancy suddenly dies after the initial phone contact with someone at the office. 

Selling an appointment to a caller takes skill at being able to create a two-way flow of communication between the potential patient and the dental staff member. Practices where people are skilled at this have a much higher new patient count and more satisfied patients in general.  Foremost on the mind of these talented staff members is to meet the patient’s need, not the practice’s need, and get them appointed promptly. 

For many companies, the salesperson represents the customer’s main link to the firm.  For many people, the salesman is the company. It is the salesman who is like a conduit through which information and trust flow, building relationships that last for years. In the dental practice, this “salesman” type relationship results in bringing patients back for their recalls, performing more treatment, and referring friends and family.

Before investing in external marketing products and services, take a long look at your most important internal marketing system, the people that answer the phone in your practice. Can they answer questions about the services and products that you provide with conviction?  Are they able to get new patients in within a week? Do they take the time to make a personal connection to the patient? Using positive language such as “we can take care of that for you” or “we are looking forward to meeting you and you will love the experience in our office” always helps to close the sale of the appointment and give the patient what they want.

Give your patients what they want and need - good customer service and great dental care. Give the gift that keeps giving, Advanced Business Training and Telephone Skill Training for your business team.

If you would like more information on McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training Programs  to improve the performance of your team, email training@mckenziemgmt.com

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