Come On In
Feeling welcome, gaining confidence and making nothing but positive associations – all this is important for all patients, especially new ones. 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. All patients are important but nothing is as essential for practice economy as the continuous intake of new patients seeking contact with the dental practice for specialist treatment, 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. There are many ways for them to find a new dentist, these include: asking friends and family, carrying out research online and finding an attractive website, reading reviews on forums, finding recommendations or marketing material or even walking past your dental practice sign and determining that you are just around the corner from their home or place of work. They will also be looking for someone who offers Private or NHS dentistry, so may well have spent time finding a practice. It's worth making their search as easy as possible and in doing so, you will have done everything you can to ensure that the journey ends with you, and ideally, that the patient feels happy with their choice so becomes a loyal patient. The key to this is ‘service’.
Perfect new patient management by the practice team
The first contact from a new patient is key to their decision process. They may well look at more than one practice and even contact several via email or phone. The patient is likely to choose the dental practice which offers the quickest appointment option and makes the most professional impression through the initial contact process. You must therefore respond to any contact quickly and professionally ideally within the first 24 hours. Always use your initial response to request relevant personal contact data as this creates a sense of commitment for the patient and 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 as this once again increases the sense of engagement and commitment from the practice and continues contact between the dental practice and the patient shortening the time until the next contact or appointment.
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, the same goes for text confirmations. 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 any information that the patient may need. It is always useful to give a new patient 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 with “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 – make a positive first impression. It’s important to take enough time for a proper greeting maybe enquiring about their journey and their ease in finding the dental practice. Briefly introduce yourself and explain what the following steps will involve, including checking the medical history. Make them feel comfortable by showing them around key areas of the practice i.e. point out the waiting area, coat rack, the treatment rooms 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 information about all the extra dental treatments available for professional teeth cleaning or an invitation to the dental implant information evening on top of various flyers can intimidate them, and in the worst case, scare them away.
...and until next time!
Make sure, if possible, especially with 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 continue to be treated as a guest which requires the practice team to be trained with the appropriate customer service skills. They should be asking the new patient 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 creates success.