Every practice needs a good dental marketing strategy. Your external marketing can attract new patients with eye-grabbing, engaging campaigns, while good internal tactics can convince them to recommend your services to their friends and family. However, marketing alone is not necessarily enough.
For patients it is the overall experience of visiting your dental practice that will encourage them to refer your practice to friends and family. If they have had an ‘outstanding’ experience they will tell people about it. If they have had a ‘terrible’ experience they will tell MORE people about it. People remember how they were made to ‘feel’ and quite often this comes from how staff members have communicated with them.
If your employees are rude, disinterested or even just absent-minded, it is all too easy for a patient to become disengaged with your practice. This will make it unlikely to get a recommendation – or even a return visit – from them. It could have catastrophic consequences if they choose to ‘share’ their bad experience with friends/family or worse still on social media.
Staff training is essential in order to support your marketing strategy. Your employees need to be ready to engage with your patients from the first contact they make until they leave you. Investing in employee development is one of the best ways to ensure all of your marketing efforts are not lost.
There are a number of areas your training should focus on. Here are what we have deemed the most essential:
Your receptionist is going to be the first contact for the vast majority of your patients, so they need to be excellent at their job. This means having a consistently friendly and professional manner, but they also need to be knowledgeable about the services and treatments you offer.
They don’t need to know everything off by heart, but they should at least be able to find information within a few seconds. If your receptionist ends up flustered and confused when asked about a procedure they are not familiar with, it is going to reflect quite badly on the quality of your practice.
A lot of enquiries are going to come by way of the phone, so you and your staff need to be prepared to deal with these. A phone call does not necessarily mean a new patient; most of the time it will be someone wanting to know more about your practice who isn’t committed to becoming one of your patients.
Converting these into bookings is a valuable skill, and telephone manner is a large part of it. Your staff need to be ready to answer the phone in a professional manner. Remember, they are representing your practice as a whole. If they make a bad impression, it can turn people off making a booking, losing you patients before they even walk through the door!
Increasingly, people are switching to the internet for communicating with others. This means you will be getting plenty of emails from potential patients. Many people neglect any kind of training in how to compose a professional email, despite the fact that your staff will be dealing with these as often as phone calls!
Just as a telephone script can be helpful, so your staff know what to say in certain situations, an email template is an essential. Make sure your employees are proofreading everything they send out, while ensuring they know how to represent the practice excellently in their emails.
Finally, one of the most commonly neglected procedures in the dental industry is patient follow-up. Ignoring this is incredibly bad practice, as if a patient does not think you’re invested in their care they will probably take their business elsewhere. However, you also need to remember not to push too aggressively for them to make another appointment.
It can sometimes be a good idea to have a staff member dedicated entirely to patient follow-up, enabling you to give the people who visit your practice the very best service.