Treatment Acceptance - Itís All About Priorities
From where you sit, the stakes are extremely high. You will either win or lose based on a tiny sliver of time in which you put enormous pressure on yourself and your “performance.” You are convinced that if you can just wow them with your knowledge, if you convey your sincere and caring demeanor and help them to understand that you’ll make the process oh-so-easy and the payments oh-so-affordable, then “yes” will be the only logical answer. They will beg you to work them into the schedule tomorrow.
You deliver the message. You’ve communicated the importance and value clearly. In your mind, you hit this treatment presentation on all cylinders. But the only response you get is, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Why? They need the treatment. You need the acceptance.
Oftentimes, dental teams mistakenly view the treatment presentation as a one-time event that is a make-it-or-break-it performance. In many cases, patient treatment acceptance is based more on the practice’s relationship with the patient than the persuasiveness of your delivery. And the process begins long before you sit across from them, eager to present the best that you and your clinical team have to offer.
Successful treatment presentations begin with solid foundations, and the cornerstone is trust. Trusting relationships take time to build. Certainly, most dentists are trustworthy individuals. It’s hard to imagine that someone wouldn’t trust you. After all, what’s not to trust? You’re hardworking, dedicated, committed, and others should trust your professional judgment. But these days, very few practices enjoy a bounty of wholly trusting patients who pursue treatment merely because the doctor recommends it.
Without question, patients trust you enough to come in for routine appointments. But when they need or want care that goes beyond “routine” procedures, their desire to say yes is often influenced by their need for more than just your expert recommendation. Many factors are likely to come into play when the patient is considering major procedures, such as full comprehension of the need for treatment; the importance of the procedure to them in terms of life, aesthetics, health; possible ramifications if they choose to procrastinate or elect an alternative procedure; financing options; how they feel about the practice as a whole – not just the doctor; and, most importantly, their own priorities. Which makes it vitally important for dental teams to make the effort to understand patient treatment priorities from day one.
Too often dental teams are so focused on the importance of their own priorities in recommending quality care that they fail to even consider the patients’ motivations in pursuing treatment. Have you taken the time to really understand the patients’ priorities? Doing so can have a profound impact on treatment acceptance. When your recommendations and the patient’s motivations and priorities are in sync, treatment acceptance increases exponentially. Why? Because the patient feels that you understand their wants and needs. What’s more, the patient feels in control. They aren’t being “sold,” rather they are choosing to buy. There is no pressure. You are delivering what the patient needs and desires, based on the patient’s priorities and your expertise.
But how do you get to this place in which your recommendations and your patients’ priorities are in sync? It begins with the patient interview, which is frankly a stuffy way of describing what should simply be a good conversation that you have with your new patients at their first appointment and with your existing patients about every 18-24 months.
It might include conversation starters along these lines: Does your smile give you confidence when interacting with people both personally and professionally? What, if anything, bothers you about your smile or your oral health in general? If I gave you a magic wand, what would you change about your smile? Do you ever have problems with chewing or with pain in your mouth? On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you place the value of keeping your teeth and oral health in optimum condition? Have you ever had any problems or concerns with our office? Is there anything that you would like us to do differently?
You’ll be amazed how much dentistry you sell when you focus more on your patient’s treatment priorities and less on the treatment presentation itself.
McKenzie Management offers one-on-one Treatment Acceptance Training to help you improve patient commitment. Details can be found HERE.
Next week, do you take your “good” patients for granted?
For more information on this topic and more, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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