I’ve discussed various methods of recruiting and retaining patients in previous posts. My suggestions have included joining valuable networking groups, helping promote a patient’s business, and throwing a party.
Perhaps the best way to grow your practice is to make your patients feel special. I mean really special. When a patient falls in love with you and your team, they stay with your office through thick and thin and recommend their friends and family to you.
They actually make this t-shirt.
So how do we fall in love with our patients and vice versa? Here’s a few tips:
(1) Take Notes About Their Lives
I try hard to remember personal information about my patients. Exciting vacations, shared interests, individual accomplishments, family news, etc. But I really struggle with keeping track of all of that. I write brief notes in the chart to help me.
If you use a paper chart, just jot down a quick note on a Post-It to keep it separate from the record. If you use a digital chart, all systems out there have a place to write memos that can pop-up.
Engage your patients about their lives. Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Simply ask questions and show genuine interest and they will think you are a great conversationalist. This is not a trick to manipulate your patients into thinking you care about them. This is simply a way of reminding yourself to take the time to get to know the people you treat.
(2) Pretend Every Patient is a Celebrity
What would you do if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie walked into your office for new patient exams?
"Hi, my name is Brad. Do you take my insurance plan?"
You would do everything in your power to make sure they had the best dental visit of all time.
Would your front desk personnel throw them the new patient forms without a special greeting? Would your hygienist rush the prophylaxis because she wants to get to her lunch break on time? Would you perform a two minute examination and not make small talk because you wanted to run back to the procedure you’re doing in the other room?
The answer is, of course, definitely not. Well if you want your patients to fall in love with your office and tell all their friends about you, then you’ll need to treat them like celebrities.
A great exercise for you and your team is to imagine the Brad and Angelina scenario. What would you do differently? Now do that for every patient in your practice.
(3) Treat Your Team to Your Favorite Restaurant
There are so many little ways your office team can charm patients with great service. I think we can all agree that we want our patients to get that warm, fuzzy feeling while they’re in the office. But what specifically can we do to impart that feeling?
Don’t reinvent the wheel; borrow techniques from a local restaurant. But not just any restaurant! No, no… this has to be a very special one. I take my team to places like Red in Huntington and Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville.
These are two of my favorite restaurants in the world. Sure, the food and décor are fantastic. But what really sets them apart is their customer service. They make me feel like a celebrity when I spend an evening with them. From the moment I walk in to the moment I leave, there is a serious “Wow” factor.
A typical dish at Red. Although the food is outstanding, it's the team that surrounds the food that truly makes the experience.
So bring your office out to a place like Red or Blackstone Steakhouse. Tell your team ahead of time that dinner is going to be on you. All they have to do is pay attention to how they are treated and have a great time. Point out all of those great little touches of personal attention you receive from the restaurant staff and talk about how you can do something similar in your own office.
Perhaps most importantly, when you see your team bring these techniques into your practice, call them out on it. Thank them at an office meeting and rave about how well they have taken care of your patients. Great service is its own reward, but public accolades will help reinforce that these new techniques should become common behavior.