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Here’s a tough pill to swallow. According to a recent study, being a great dentist is not the most important factor in building a thriving practice.

Becker’s Healthcare Review studied 35,000 online healthcare reviews and concluded that customer service is the #1 reason that patients are unsatisfied with their healthcare. That’s right, customer service, not quality of care.

“The nearly unanimous consensus is that in terms of impact on patient satisfaction, the waiting room trumps the exam room,” said Ron Harman King, CEO of Vanguard Communications, a marketing and public relations firm for specialty medical practices.

You didn’t go to dental school to learn about customer service. So what can you do? Here are a few simple ways to improve patient experience, and lessen the chances of complaints.

Before the appointment…

81% of Patients would prefer to schedule their appointment online[1], so give the people what they want! They’ll be more likely to schedule, and in a better mood before they even sit in your chair. Real-time online scheduling eliminates frustrating double-booking issues and saves you and your patients time vs. booking on the phone (which takes an average of 8 minutes).

If you want to reduce no-shows, email and text appointment reminders are the way to go.

And if you have forms you want them to fill out, put them online! The paperwork will be ready to go, improving your front-end efficiency.

During the appointment…

This is the easy part. After making sure that you accept their insurance, and that they are in-network, just do what you do best.

Yes, be as punctual as possible. Of course, be courteous. Definitely, deliver the highest standard of care that you can. But you don’t need us to tell you to do those things. You’ve got this one covered already.

After they leave…

As soon as they’ve walked out your door, follow up with a review request. Online reviews are the new word of mouth (85% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations[2]), and good reviews are essentially free advertising.

After that, it’s time to make sure they come back again. Be sure your front desk is proposing a date for a return visit, whether that’s 6 months down the line or sooner. A few weeks before that appointment comes, send another email or text – one that allows them to book directly from that message without having to call you.

At the end of the day, it’s all about convenience. Make the process of visiting the dentist as easy and painless as possible, and your patients will reward you for it.

[1]Decipher Research / Inuit Health

[2]Local Consumer Review 2017

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