Are your patients talking about their dental experience?

September 30, 2014

If they aren’t, they should be! One of the most important keys to the growth of your dental practice just may be strong word-of-mouth and excellent referrals from a satisfied patient.

Historically, your dental office will receive over 70 percent of its business from referrals by satisfied patients. Do you make every patient feel important? Does every patient leave your dental practice feeling like they have had your undivided attention? If they don’t, we need to make sure that every patient leaves your practice feeling they were the only patient who matters to you. Not only will they feel you’ve “dazzled” them with your dental health care, but they’ll also remember that you cared about them.

Becoming exceptional in the minds of your patients means they are experiencing the “WOW” factor. Patients who have received the gift of your undivided time and attention will leave them with the feeling that you have exceeded their expectations. Patients who have had amazing experiences in the dental office can’t wait to “spread the word.”

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of dentistry’s best kept marketing secrets. Too often we defeat our self-promotion efforts by assuming that other people won’t be interested in what we do, or by the childhood notion that it’s not polite to brag about our accomplishments and ourselves.

So, where do we start? The best place to start is with your current patients! Ask them for referrals! If your patients are happy with their dental experience, they will be glad to refer you to their friends and family.

1. Target your highest quality patients to ask for referrals. Patients who come from referrals tend to have a higher dental IQ.

2. You may also want to target patients who work with large networks of people. This may include patients who work as a fitness instructor, hairdresser, etc.

3. Identify team members who will ask “targeted” patients for referrals on a daily basis. The goal is to avoid having two or three staff members ask the same patient for a referral on the same day.

4. Track how frequently patients are asked for referrals and who they ultimately refer to you.

5. When a new patient calls for an appointment, and it is learned an existing patient has referred him/her, note this information on the New Patient Monitor.

6. Send a “thank you for referring” letter to the referring patient. Pull both charts and cross-reference the referral.

7. It is powerful, as time goes by, to chat with patients about who referred them and who they have referred. It lets patients know how much you value their efforts in the referral process.

How to ask for referrals. All positive interactions with patients provide an opportunity to ask for referrals:
a. When a staff member makes a quality statement about a patient’s behavior;
b. When a patient volunteers a compliment about the practice.

Use action phrases when asking for referrals. They incorporate both the patient and the practice together in a way that lets the patient feel s/he has a significant role in the practice.

Example: “You know, Mr. Jones, I always look forward to seeing you. I wish all my patients were as easy to work with as you are. If you ever run across someone who is looking for a new dental practice and who values quality dental care like you do, please refer them to us.”

And for patients, who have completed major treatment, ten minutes spent looking at pre-treatment models and photos and comparing them to the end result can be dramatic and effective.

Example: “I bet you have friends or family members who would benefit from the same positive experience you have had with us. We would love to have the opportunity to celebrate the same success with them. So many people endure unnecessary dental problems, and we would love to have more patients like you.”

Why does this work? Patients are flattered and it builds patient loyalty.

In summary, the successful relationship that you have with your existing patients will play an important role in a flourishing dental referral program, ultimately leading you to a productive and profitable schedule.