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First Impressions Last – Patient Retention


Dental practices often have different strategies for new patient acquisition and patient retention. Few realize that patient retention begins even before someone comes into your office for the first time. First impressions matter a great deal in the dental business. A patient’s first visit will be the key factor in their decision to come back. After all, why would anyone go back to a dentist if their first visit is frustrating or stressful?

Make a Good Impression – Online

Most people go online to search for a dental practice close to their home or work. Even if they were referred to you by a friend, almost everyone will search online for reviews. They want to check your practice website and find directions to your location. So making a good first impression – online – is critical.

First of all, you need to have a professional website showcasing your dental team. Whether you make your own or hire consultants, the results matter. Your website is an extension of your brand identity and one of its main purposes is to provide information on your clinic.

Make sure that potential clients can find your website easily. Once the client finds the website, they should be able to find all the information they need. It should include contact info, office hours, and directions at the minimum. You might also want to include some tips on the paperwork you need them to bring for their first visit.

Make It Easy to Schedule an Appointment

Almost no one looks forward to visiting the dentist. It’s up to you to make the process comfortable and easy for your patients. Unfortunately, many clinics make the process of scheduling an appointment more difficult than it needs to be. Clients are redirected to voicemail, get a busy tone or hear a robotic voice announce some numbers. Very few practices offer online appointments.

This is another chance to impress clients even before you meet them. Don’t let calls go to voicemail, if at all possible. Make sure the receptionist answers the phone in a polite and courteous manner. Keep a few appointment slots solely for new patients so you can schedule them within 48 to 72 hours. If you have to put a client on hold, play a recorded message directing them to your website to make an appointment.

Create a Check In Process for New Patients

Your front office staff probably have a checklist for new patient appointments. It might include having them fill out paperwork, confirming their insurance coverage, checking the medical history of the patient etc. Instead of leaving these tasks until the patient’s appointment, consider sending them a welcome packet with all the requisite information.

What should you include in the new patient folder? Provide a checklist of all the documents they will need and the paperwork to fill out in advance. You might want to give them directions to your office, details about where to park, and contact information in case they need to reschedule. It’s also a good idea to give an estimate of how long the first visit will take so patients can plan accordingly. You can also add a link to your website where they can find the same information in a digital format.

The above three steps will go a long way in creating a hasslefree experience for new patients. Your patience will realize that you value their time and appreciate the extra effort you put in to reduce the stress. You get only one chance to make a good first impression, so make it count!