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A happy patient walking out the door after an appointment confirms that their experience with you, your team, and the care they received has met or exceeded their expectations. You should conclude every appointment this way—leaving the patient with a positive impression of your practice and providing the perfect scenario to generate new patient referrals. So how do you ensure every patient leaves happy? Teamwork and no surprises!

Our recent article explained that patient handoffs are vital to ensuring the best patient experience in your office. Verbal skills, teamwork and personal attention are the key to these handoffs. After completing treatment take a few moments to raise the chair, remove your mask and gloves, sit side by side and have a conversation with the patient about the results of the care or treatment they just received. Next, make sure your patient understands what follow-up care or further treatment they need before you walk them to the front desk. A team member should always, without exception, walk your patient to the front desk. Just as important, never “park” a patient at the front desk – they should not be left standing alone wondering what to do next. Instead, ensure a proper handoff takes place and transitions them to a front desk team member.

As always, make each patient feel important. The team member escorting them to the front desk should be pleasant and not rushed. Likewise, the person receiving the patient should give the patient their full attention—not simply a wave or head nod as they are on a phone call. At this point in the patient visit, there should be no surprises. You and your patient are all on the same page regarding completed treatment, payment, and follow-up care. Lastly, thank them and let them know you look forward to seeing them again!

Ken

 

Ken Mathys, CPA
Founder & Principal
Dental Practice Advisors

referral-landing

Internal marketing has proven to be the most cost-effective and successful way to acquire new patients and grow your practice. And you should have a referral program at the heart of your internal marketing efforts, because your current patients’ recommendations to others do more to build your patient list than you can do on your own.

Assuming that you’re already providing an excellent patient experience, here are a few tips to drive those referrals:

  1. Ask for them! Sounds simple, but many practices admit that despite good intentions of requesting referrals, they fail to actually follow through. Patients may not realize you’re accepting new patients or it may not occur to them to spread the word about their great experience with your office. Commit to actively asking your patients to refer their friends and family to your practice. Generate compliments from patients by asking “How was your experience today?” Respond to their positive reply with a polite referral request.
  2. Implement a Patient Referral Program. Get a plan in place and get your whole team on board by setting daily or weekly goals. For instance, during your morning huddle commit to identifying two patients each day you will ask for a referral from. The next day, discuss the results of yesterday’s referral conversations. Be sure your referral program includes recognition of your referring patients—let them know how much you appreciate their referrals.
  3. Develop Patient Referral Program materials. Display materials at the front desk, in your waiting room, in operatories, and hygiene rooms. They provide a great lead-in for your team to mention the referral program to patients as they come in for a visit. Drop referrals cards in your hygiene bags, attach to walkout statements, and include in patient correspondence. Don’t forget to include your Patient Referral Program details on your website.
  4. Be selective. Be thoughtful about who you ask for referrals. Remember that like attracts like, so identify your favorite patients and tell them “We’re always happy to see more patients like you. If it’s ok, I’d like to give you a few referral cards to share with your family and friends.” Make a list of your “top 200” patients and target your referral efforts on them.
  5. Bottom line. Just start asking!

Ken

Ken Mathys, CPA
Founder & Principal
Dental Practice Advisors

Handoff-Featured

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 with our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences.” To kick it off we’re sharing a series of articles with tops for exceptional patient experiences written by member of the Dental Practice Advisors team.


Reinforce your brand—that lasting intangible bond with the patient—by ensuring the best patient experience in your office through effective handoffs. From the time a patient enters the waiting room until they walk out the door, a team member needs to guide and smoothly transition them from one part of the office to the next.

The entire team must participate to make each hand off successful. Everyone should know what role they play. Have a structured handoff plan in place, and utilize your morning huddles or team meetings to review and practice your handoff process until everyone is comfortable and competent.

Offices often think they hand off patients, but in reality they simply walk the patient down the hallway to the next stop. They fail to actually hand over the responsibility of the patient from one team member to another. They don’t display interest and excitement, which fails to instill confidence in the patient.

To create a successful handoff, team members need to be prepared to receive the patient during each transition. They should put everything else aside for a moment, pay attention, and listen carefully to make sure they have received all the information necessary to provide an exceptional appointment—from start to finish—for the patient.

Most importantly, you need to prepare your patient every step of the way by explaining what comes next, anticipating their expectations and needs, and introducing them to the next team member. By utilizing appropriate handoffs, you increase the level of trust your patient has with your team and eliminate a lot of their potential fears.

Here are a few important things to communicate during handoffs:

 

  1. Summary of what has been accomplished.
    This gives the patient a quick review of the great care they received in your office, allows receiving team members to learn what has been done, and sets the stage for comfortable treatment presentation.
  2. Treatment recommendations.
    Reiterating treatment options helps ensure everyone is on the same page concerning the patient’s care.
  3. Next step for the patient/decisions made.
    Reviewing the next step(s) reassures the patient about the process and helps the receiving team member know how to handle their step in the process.
  4. Confidence.
    Instill patient confidence in your office via your handoff effectiveness!


Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Ken

Ken Mathys, CPA
Founder & Principal
Dental Practice Advisors

desk-blog

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 with our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences.” To kick it off we’re sharing a series of articles with tops for exceptional patient experiences written by member of the Dental Practice Advisors team.


Once patients walk into your office, how do you make them stay… and come back? By providing superior service and top quality dental care, starting at the front desk.

A positive front desk encounter begins with the look and feel of the front office when a patient arrives. Patients notice the sounds, smells and overall appearance when they walk in. Put extra effort into giving your front office a fresh, clean scent versus the anxiety-inducing smell of dental materials. Keep the front desk and waiting areas neat and organized, as clutter devalues the professionalism of a practice.

You also need to place just as much importance on how you greet your patient when they enter. A successful front desk receptionist is aware of and anticipates each and every patient arrival. Their number one priority is the patient check-in, with emphasis on making the patient feel welcome. Upon walking in the door, every patient should receive your receptionist’s full attention; they should not be distracted by phone calls or other tasks.

Here are a few additional tips for a winning check-in process:

  1. Welcome a patient by standing to greet them by name and introducing yourself while smiling and looking them in the eye.
  2. Show them where to hang their coat, if necessary.
  3. Efficiently verify their information and offer to walk them through the paperwork.
  4. Offer a beverage while they wait.
  5. Note their arrival time and compare it to the schedule of the person they are seeing.
  6. In the event of a delay in their appointment, inform the patient right away.
  7. Ensure that small talk around the front desk is kept professional and minimal.
  8. Always remain professional yet friendly and accommodating to the patient

To create the optimal front desk encounter, build a front desk team that is well-trained and prepared for any situation; has strong interpersonal skills – both verbal and non-verbal communication; and consistently demonstrates patience.


Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Wendy Schneider

Wendy Schneider
Marketing & Graphic Design
Dental Practice Advisors

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 with our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences.” To kick it off we’re sharing a series of articles with tips for exceptional patient experiences written by members of the Dental Practice Advisors team.


In our last few blog posts we talked about the importance of each patient touch point in establishing your brand—that intangible bond with your patients. Because when patients feel that connection they are more inclined to make appointments and pay a fair price for their care. Yet no-shows can and do happen despite your best efforts.

And nothing is more irritating than a last minute cancellation or a no-show. To help reduce the amount of broken appointments you must realize there is distinct difference between appointment confirmations and courtesy reminders to your patients.

A confirmation requires a call or contact back to acknowledge the appointment. A reminder is simply a courtesy contact for an already confirmed appointment. The key to a successful confirmation process really starts with your scheduling process. Make sure the person scheduling appointments for your office is expressing implied confirmation (and responsibility) to the patient… right from the get-go!

When scheduling an appointment with a patient, set clear expectations for them. Tell them that you will go ahead and schedule their appointment right now and that they should be sure to mark it on their calendar. In doing so, you have indicated a mutual commitment for that time and date. “Mrs. Jones, your appointment on July 12 at 9 am is reserved only for you. It is considered confirmed. As a courtesy, you can expect to receive a (call, text, email, postcard, etc.) a few days before your appointment to let you know we are counting on you. When you receive that, will you please make sure to respond to us so that we all know we are on the same page?”

Avoid using the word “confirm” in your follow-up communication as that implies the appointment was not “firm” in the first place, leaving them room to back out. Instead, consider saying “Mrs. Jones, we are looking forward to seeing you at your appointment on July 12 at 9 am. Please reply to this message today so that we know you have this appointment noted on your calendar.”


Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Wendy Schneider

Wendy Schneider
Marketing & Graphic Design
Dental Practice Advisors

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 with our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences.” To kick it off we’re sharing a series of articles with tips for exceptional patient experiences written by members of the Dental Practice Advisors team.

Anyone can pick up a phone, but not everyone can do it well. That person needs the positive outlook, language skills, dental knowledge and financial know-how to understand questions that come up. But people skills that develop a relationship with the caller and guide conversations to a positive outcome are even more important. The more personalized and reassuring the conversation, the better the chance of successfully scheduling that first appointment.

Here are three basic tips to step up your phone game:


  1. Answer the phone. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But do you know how many of your calls go unanswered or to voicemail? Every one of those missed calls could be a new patient that won’t try your office again. They’ll call the next dentist on the list. People expect you to be open during typical business hours, so be sure your phone is covered during that time. If you miss a partial or whole day (maybe closed on Fridays), you could be missing 20% of possible new patient calls.
  2. Make each caller feel important. Avoid making them feel like an interruption. When the phone rings stop what you’re doing, count to three, smile, and answer pleasantly (and never put a new patient on hold.) Mood and distraction come through on the phone, so focus entirely on the caller. Build instant rapport by using the caller’s name and responding with a positive, reassuring statement, such as “Julie, we’re so glad you called. My name is Sue and I’m happy to help you.” Continue to use their name throughout the conversation and carefully listen to their needs.
  3. Keep the conversation moving. Be prepared for and welcome questions on insurance and cost of treatment. They create opportunities to engage the caller. Instead of answering the “How much do you charge for a crown?” question by stating your typical fee for that service, engage in a conversation to gather more information about their needs. “What type of crown did you have in mind?” “What quality of crown are you looking for?” Ultimately, invite them to come in by saying “We have many crown options to fit your needs. Why don’t we schedule a time for you to come in and meet Dr. Johnson so he can give you a better idea of what your investment would be.”

Do you know how your telephone is being answered? I challenge you to observe and listen. Pay attention to what’s being said, how it’s being said, the flow of the calls, and how the conversations close. Odds are… there’s room for improvement.

Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Wendy Schneider

Wendy Schneider
Marketing & Graphic Design
Dental Practice Advisors

 

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 with our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center “Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences.” To kick it off we’re sharing a series of articles with tips for exceptional patient experiences written by members of the Dental Practice Advisors team:

Optimize Your Patient Experience Through Every Touchpoint

As you learned in a recent blog, your practice’s brand is the emotional response that comes from all experiences associated with your practice. Be sure you have made a well-thought decision on what you want that emotional response to be for your practice. Do you wish to portray a comfortable and inviting experience for the whole family? Are you striving to be known for cutting edge technology and procedures? Once you determine exactly what your desired response is, make a commitment to clearly and consistently present that brand promise to your patients.

Each and every touchpoint a patient may encounter with your team and your facility shapes the total patient experience. All marketing materials and patient interactions should work in harmony to generate the experience you wish to create. Is the sign outside your building visible, inviting, and pleasing to the eye? When a patient walks in the door, are they immediately greeted with a smiling face? Is the waiting room comfortable and inviting? Each of these factors influences the way patients remember you and the treatment you provide. Certainly, your clinical skills are essential to your success, but realize these other touchpoints – your ad in the local paper, your team’s tone of voice when answering the phone, the entrance sign on your door, ease of navigation on your website, your appointment card, facility’s cleanliness, the waiting room experience, the treatment follow-up instructions you hand them, and more – all work together in generating the experience you want to create for your patients.

A great way to take stock in your total patient experience is to walk through your practice in the eyes of a patient. Because you are there every day, it is very natural to become impervious to what you “see” in your practice. You may not notice the crack in your treatment room ceiling or the burned out light bulb at the front entrance, but your patient does. Or you may not realize that your phone calls go to voicemail 25% of the time, resulting in missed new patient opportunities every day. Find out where the hiccups in the flow of a patient appointment are by mapping out a patient process flow chart. Put some effort into discovering what’s really happening in your practice.

Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event “Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences” at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Wendy Schneider

Wendy Schneider
Marketing & Graphic Design
Dental Practice Advisors

Dental City and Dental Practice Advisors have teamed up to help you achieve increased success in 2016 from our upcoming event with the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences to this series of practice management tips:

Brand Matters: It’s Not What You Think, It’s What THEY Think

If someone were to ask you “what’s your brand,” how would you answer? Many would answer with their practice name. Others may refer to their logo. Some may even recite a tagline, if they have one. While all of these elements contribute to your practice’s brand, they are not the brand itself. A brand is so much more than that. A brand is what gives your practice character and integrity. It evokes emotion that patients associate with your practice. A brand differentiates you from the dentist down the street.

Picture the Nike swoosh – one of the most recognized brand logos in the world. What does that swoosh mean? The mark itself is really quite simple. But it’s the connotation of long-term branding efforts the logo now carries: athletic excellence, determination, courage, honor, victory, teamwork. Nike’s brand strategy is to build a brand so powerful that it inspires ardent customer loyalty from people all over the world. How? By using an emotional branding technique—the story of the Hero—in its advertising. Consistently.

Now, we are pretty certain your marketing budget doesn’t come close to Nike’s. And you likely haven’t put much thought into implementing a branding strategy for your practice. However, realize that your practice does have a brand, whether you know it or not. Your brand is the sum of everything your practice is, says and does. It’s the product of the countless experiences your practice creates with its patients, prospective patients, employees, and the community – and the emotional feelings these groups develop as a result of their experience in your office. It’s the sum of all touch points that make your practice unique.

The key realization is that your brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY—the patients—say it is. It’s what THEY FEEL it is. So just because YOU think your brand evokes the feeling or emotion you want it to (comfortable, inviting, high quality dentist), be sure that your audience is getting that same message. Be proactive in building up the brand image you desire by taking steps to create value and consistency in your message.

Learn more about our Ritz-Carlton event Creating Exceptional Patient Experiences at Lambeau Field, the home of the Green Bay Packers, on April 28 & 29, 2016.

Wendy Schneider

Wendy Schneider
Marketing & Graphic Design
Dental Practice Advisors