Transactional vs Experiential: Where do your Dental Patients Lie?

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There has been a bit of a buzz about the terms transactional and experiential visit in dental circles recently. What do they mean and why should you bother to understand these terms? These words are not just convoluted jargon, they represent a crucial difference in how your patients remember their visit to your chair.

The confusion mostly stems from the fact that the two terms clearly overlap, so it can be hard for dentists to figure out what they mean. After all, a transaction occurs each time a patient comes in and a client has an ‘experience’ whether it is good or bad. But there is more than meets the eye here.

Transactional Visit

In a transactional visit, it is the point of sale that is important. The goal is to maximize efficiency and make sure it is concluded quickly. If there are any obstacles to payment, you’re focused on clearing it immediately. There is little to no effort in building a relationship with the client. The expectation is that the customer probably won’t come back and neither will they refer others. This type of visit is suitable for certain businesses, like a gas station on the highway.

Experiential Visit

Here the focus is not just on the point of sale but on the entire experience from the moment the client sets foot inside the place. You want to provide a great experience so that they keep coming back. With time, the relationship even grows stronger with the aid of learning from previous visits. An excellent experience should prompt a client to refer their friends or family and give positive reviews. This is the type of visit a dental practice should aim for.

Now that we know the distinction between the two terms, what makes one preferable to the other? Why should you strive to increase experiential visits and reduce transactional ones? After all, you make money with both types. There is a simple reason behind this. A patient with whom you have a great long term relationship is much more valuable than someone who will never come back to your clinic after the first visit.

It’s not just a one way street either. Both the patient and the clinic benefit from such relationships. You don’t have to constantly offer discounts or spend on advertising to attract new customers. It lets you focus on improving your practice, bringing stability to your work week and finances. The patient benefits from the extensive knowledge you have about their oral health, medical history and personality. You will be in a better position to recommend treatments and offer suggestions.

Suppose you know that a particular patient is susceptible to certain issues. You may suggest changes in their habits to combat it or even schedule extra follow up visits to ensure their teeth are taken care of appropriately. You really cannot do that with a patient who drops in for a visit every few years or doesn’t come back after certain procedures for preventative care.

Where does your practice fall in this spectrum? If your visits lean more towards the transactional side, focus on improving the patient experience overall. It’s not just the time they spend in your chair that matters. From friendly front desk employees to a pleasant reception, small things can add up to a positive experience. Actively solicit feedback from your regular clients. Ask them what they like about coming here and what they would like to change.

Very few people enjoy dental visits, so take this opportunity to make it pleasant for your patients!