If you’re the only provider in town, patient loyalty probably isn’t a problem you face. However, for most practices, competition has dramatically increased over the past several years, and the battle for new patients will only get harder. What if you’re the only provider in town and a new practice opens up just down the street? What can you do to increase patient loyalty and keep the patients you’ve worked so hard to get?
Tip #1 – Make sure they come to appointments!
Appointment confirmations, especially for busy people, are one of the best ways to keep patients loyal. Forgetting an appointment and having to reschedule is a nuisance for most people. You can eliminate this annoyance by sending voice and email confirmations as well as text messages, ensuring patients make it to all of their appointments on time. Patients also expect cancellation notices in case of an emergency office closing. No one wants to arrange for time away from work or school only to discover their appointment has been cancelled. Reaching out with a quick notification is a great way to keep patients happy.
Tip #2 – Stay in touch!
Most patients on a regular treatment schedule only visit their dentist once or twice a year. The time between office visits is one of your best opportunities for fostering dedicated, loyal relationships with your patients. How can you build a lasting relationship with these patients? Talk to them! There are a number of ways you can reach out to these patients. Your practice website is a great avenue for providing information about practice events, news about new staff members or events, up-to-the-minute treatment options, post-operatory instructions and preventive care information. Social media sites, such as Facebook, and e-newsletters are also great ways to communicate fun information or timely news to patients.
Tip #3 – Offer conveniences!
Patients are busy people. And just like you, they want certain services available to them in all arenas that make their lives easier. Conveniences you can offer that make their lives a little less complicated (such as online bill pay) will increase their loyalty to your practice. Also, after more complicated or painful procedures, send post-visit emails with aftercare instructions for making the patient more comfortable. An email from you that says “I care” will go a long way to build patient loyalty.
When you go the extra mile to build loyal patients, you will feel the return in a number of ways! Keep in mind that loyal patients are your best source for referrals and help you market your practice. Loyal patients keep your overall marketing costs down since they’re on the streets representing you through word-of-mouth advertising. Also, your devoted patients are usually the most informed about your practice and are fully aware of the great service you provide. They appreciate the personal attention you give them and feel confident in recommending you to friends and family to receive the same level of service. In short, loyal patients are your best marketing tool.