Call to action – patient communication as a marketing tool
More often than not, the phrase ‘patient communication’ is used to refer to measures such as a practice flyer, patient information sheets or even clarification sheets. Is this also how you understood it? Then you should keep reading, because there is so much more to patient communication than that. The key words here are dialogue, activity and personal connection.
In order to create long-term patient loyalty for your practice, nowadays performing good treatment is simply not enough. In the apparently endless pool of different marketing measures and ways of addressing patients, it is less about creating millions of flyers on different topics and more about creating a relationship through affability and personal connection. How do you achieve that? Through measures that focus on dialogue, activity and networking. Through formats with character. Through one-to-one interaction. You need to become approachable and accessible, and stay authentic. Personality is everything.
Doors wide open
The best possible marketing measure, when it comes to patient loyalty and personal connection, has to be the open day. Scheduled once or twice a year, it allows patients and practitioners to spend time together in a relaxed environment, with no time pressure or toothache, outside of the otherwise rather sterile practice atmosphere. Open days are aimed at two target groups: existing patients and new patients. For both groups, the focus is on taking a look behind the scenes and seeing the dentist and team in a more personal context – ideally accompanied by family members, friends or work colleagues who also want to become a patient and are interested in your practice. It is always a good idea to combine an open day with a specific occasion. This could be, for example, a new/additional practitioner in the team, an expansion of the service offering or acquisition of a new device. Renovation, practice expansion or a practice anniversary are also perfect occasions to tag an open day onto.
Schedule in plenty of time for inviting guests and organizing the event and check for clashes with other events in the field of dental practice. A Saturday morning or afternoon is ideal. As part of the advertising of the event, it should be made clear what the visitors can expect, what added value attending your event will bring, and so on. Finger food/snacks, drinks and some entertainment for the little ones always go down well – after all, weekend events are always about the whole family.
Depending on the practice orientation and the competition, you could also take a new slant on the more traditional concept of an open day. A preview with a local artist, a reading or tasting (e.g. wine, oil, artisan vinegar) would be a modern twist for particular patient target groups and step away from the norm.
Open, monothematic formats post-treatment are well-established and remain popular. Whether it’s an information evening on prophylaxis, an implant consultation or the presentation of photodynamic periodontitis therapy – those who provide information will reap the rewards of having well-informed patients. And this in turn empowers your patients, because of course you can go into much greater depth and detail in these sorts of informative events than via displays in the practice, flyers or during discussions with your patients while they’re sat in the treatment chair. Patients want to be informed, especially about special procedures such as dental implants. Give them this opportunity – in your dental practice rather than on Google!
From a marketing perspective, plenty of time should also be given for advertising these events. Via notice in the practice, on the website or even through the post or a radio announcement – there are endless possibilities; structure your exact objectives in advance.
Socializing via social media
Social media channels also offer you excellent starting points for personal interaction. For example, if you have a practice Facebook page, patients or new patients will often contact you through this medium. This may be in the form of appointment inquiries, questions about treatment options or sometimes positive or negative feedback. So what do you do? Socialize! Answer, respond, interact with the patients according to the medium. If you cannot meet the requirements and time demands of maintaining a social media channel or online platform, then seriously consider deleting your account. No account is always better than a passive account.
The same goes for jameda and other review sites. Patients rate practitioners because they value being heard. So answer – no matter whether the feedback is positive or critical. Being taken seriously, being paid attention to and being appreciated for their opinions are probably the most valuable factors for keeping patients loyal to your practice for a long time.