If you’ve ever wondered why a patient chooses one dental practice over another, we have a simple answer for you: it’s the one that responds the fastest to their inquiries. Yes, location, insurance, services, and reputation matter, but it’s the customer service that will get prospective patients to make actual appointments with you. In fact, up to 50% of new patients end up going with the practice that responds to them first. What this means for you: to be truly competitive, you need some form of system responding to every new patient request as soon as possible, whether in the form of a phone call, email or text message.
Dental practices that wait until the end of the day to address new-patient outreach like returning phone calls and messages, risk losing out on significant patient growth. Most dental offices also don’t make more than one follow-up attempt, hindering the growth potential of their practice.
However, there are things you can do to engage with prospective patients immediately, regardless of how they reach out. The focus here should be to develop a system that captures and stores new patient information and tracks outreach efforts.
DEVELOP A CONTACT MANAGEMENT PROCESS
Dental practices must prioritize outreach to avoid losing prospective patients to competitors in the area. An in-house contact management process can help with that. Each day your team should dedicate time to new-patient outreach, including through phone calls, emails, and text messages.
The next time you get a new patient inquiry through your website appointment request form, make sure to respond to it immediately. Instead of waiting to respond to it by the end of the day, or worse, days later, develop an in-house new-patient outreach process that checks your email inbox at set times throughout the day and have someone on your team respond to new-patient inquiries, e.g. by using a template. If a person is willing to spend the time to fill out an online form, they are also serious about becoming a patient.
In addition to making sure the new-patient inquiry receives an immediate response, you should also store their contact information right away for future outreach. This can be done manually or by setting up an automated system. Either way, make sure you have an organized and accessible system in place.
Should the patient not respond to your first contact attempt right away, your office can make and track additional contact attempts easily. It sometimes takes up to five contact attempts before a patient responds, so don’t give up too soon.
An automated system like CRM software (customer relationship management) can help make the response process more efficient. No matter which tool you choose, make sure that it:
- helps you respond to new inquiries quickly,
- captures and stores new patient info, and
- tracks inquiry attempts and patient communication.
The bottom line is: new-patient outreach is crucial to grow a dental office. While it can be time-consuming, having a process, and some form of response automation in place can help get back to inquiries quickly and increases your chance of turning them into actual patients.