Come on in, dear new patient
Feeling welcome, gaining confidence and making nothing but positive associations – all this should be a matter of course for new patients. Always bear in mind: perfect new patient management begins BEFORE the actual visit to the practice. We all need them, compete for them and try to turn them into regular patients: our dear new patients. Hardly any target group is as essential for practice economy as the continuous intake of new patients which are seeking contact with the dental practice due to special treatment requests, personal geographic changes or even past dissatisfaction with a competitor. Now it’s equally up to the dentist and the team to perform in all areas, because just like on a first date – first impressions matter!
Finding a new dental practice – standing in the patient’s shoes
Let’s look at things from the patient’s perspective – this helps to avoid potential errors which are often caused by using the wrong approach. The patient is seeking a new dentist. To do this, they carry out research online and at most they find an attractive website and/or they read reviews on forums and/or find recommendations and/or marketing material and/or walk past your dental practice sign and determine that you are just around the corner from their flat. One thing’s for sure: the patient has gone through a long research journey to get to that point. There’s no need to add to it unnecessarily. In the next step, do everything you can to ensure that the journey ends with you, and ideally, that the patient feels permanently comfortable with you. The key word in this case is ‘service’.
Perfect new patient management by the practice team
The first appointment for a new patient will usually take place online, since it’s much less intimidating. The patient contacts you via email or an online contact form, if such a form exists. It can be assumed that the patient will contact several practices rather than just yours. However, the lead will ultimately be won by the dental practice which offers the quickest appointment option and makes the most professional impression throughout the entire process. You must therefore respond to digital messages quickly – you shouldn’t allow more than 24 hours to pass. Respond to the new patient in a binding manner, for example by requesting relevant personal data – this creates a sense of commitment for the patient as the protection awarded by anonymity disappears.
If the patient contacts you via telephone, take sufficient time to answer all questions, and convey a sense of peace, friendliness, sensitivity and empathy.
In each case, the agreed appointment must be followed up. On the one hand, this once again increases the sense of engagement and commitment, and on the other, continuous contact between the dental practice and the patient shortens the time until the first meeting.
You’ve got mail! – communication with the new patient
If you only have the new patient’s email address, it is recommended that you digitally confirm the appointment by means of a quick reply. If you requested/received the full postal address, then we naturally recommend sending the new patient a letter via post. Create one basic version and personalise it as required. Printing on business papers makes the letter look more professional and prepares the patient for the appointment. Alongside information on the practice image and concept, the letter should also include basic information relating to documents the patient must bring, as well as travel and parking recommendations. You can also invite the patient to visit your website for further information.
Including a flyer and a medical history survey is also particularly service oriented. The latter can be filled out at home at the patient’s leisure and brought to the appointment, so that neither party loses any valuable time to “bureaucracy”. An alternative to this option is making the medical history survey available on your website to download as a PDF.
Welcome to our dental practice...
The time has come and the big day is here – the new patient will enter the dental practice for the first time. Greet them like a guest – with emotion yet rationally. It’s important to take enough time for a proper greeting and to enquire about their journey and their ease in finding the dental practice. Briefly introduce yourself and explain what the following steps will involve, from checking the medical history survey they brought to meeting the dentist. Showing them around the practice should also be a key component – this includes pointing out the waiting area, coat rack, the treatment room and patient bathroom, as well as certain services such as magazines, drinks or similar. If you work with billing providers or offer different financing options, this should also be part of the conversation.
But be careful not to overload them. Choose the information you provide carefully and don't overwhelm the new patient during their first appointment. Receiving the application for professional teeth cleaning as well as an invitation to the dental implant information evening on top of the CMD flyer can intimidate them, and in the worst case, scare them away.
...and until next time!
Pay particular mind when it comes to new patients that appointments are carried out on time and work in some extra buffer time for any potential questions. Even after they’ve left the treatment room, the patient should be treated as a guest once more, whereby the skills and suitability of the practice team come into play. Ask them how they feel and what their impression has been – if appropriate, address them by their first name to give that personal touch. And of course, their departure should be offered with a smile and a personal farewell.
Keeping your new patients couldn’t be easier when you have the right strategy. By establishing fixed structures and regularly carrying out follow ups, this strategy becomes a team discipline with a high profitability factor and equally great success.