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August 27th, 2014

3 Things to Consider when Building Patient Loyalty

Young Dentist working with her patientThousands of practices have patients that like and appreciate them, but only the elite practices have patients that act as proactive ambassadors— the individuals who willingly go out of their way to share their experiences and refer others.

These evangelists are not only brand advocates, but they are ‘marketing partners’ who are also members of the community, and consequently able to reach fellow prospective patients in a more impactful manner than any external marketing campaign that you can undertake.

Engendering this kind of loyalty in your practice is critical, because presenting additional services to current patients is a lot easier and less expensive than finding new ones.

Additionally, a recent study by Bain & Co. proved conclusively that companies that can improve the retention of their best customers by only 5% can increase profitability by as much as 75 percent! With that in mind, here are 3 considerations for establishing and building stronger patient loyalty in your practice:

1. Integrity is the foundation of a loyal relationship

Be on time…. do what you say you are going to do…. provide consistent and outstanding service…. make sure the practice puts the patient’s needs first and not vice versa.

Think back to the PDA team breakout session. Remember the steps to creating raving fans:

  • Honor the 8-Second Threshold Rule
  • Greet patients by name
  • Control the conversation, keeping it positive and focused on the patient

Building loyalty begins with building trust. When patients can rely on you and your staff for both big and little promises, they view the practice as trustworthy. The sum of all of that is doing business with integrity. Without integrity, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no enduring relationship.

2. Understand what you are selling

Dentists like to believe patients are paying for their expertise. Yet most patients cannot evaluate a dentist’s clinical skills; instead, they simply assume he/she is an expert by virtue of their DDS or DMD credentials.
What customers can assess is how they are treated; if they feel valued and if they received outstanding service.

Enthusiasm begets enthusiasm. If you want patients to be loyal and refer others, make sure that everyone on your team is a loyal brand evangelist ALL OF THE TIME (It starts from the top down). If you and your team are excited about the practice, you’re patients will be excited.

Remember to create “Beauty Parlor Buzz” by telling patients about the little things that excite you:

  • Fluoride releasing cements
  • Headlights in the handpieces
  • Doctor learning a new technique

Also, when team members “brag about the doctor” they are reinforcing the quality of the work and making it easier for patients to refer others!

3. What have you done for me lately?

Chances are as you read this article a patient is deciding to leave your practice. A common mistake among practices is to focus heavily on the early stage of the patient acquisition cycle: the new patient exam and consequent follow up visits. They wrongly presume that once a patient is happy, that patient will stay happy and continue to frequent the practice for regular checkups and perhaps even refer others.

But the reality is that patients are continually reevaluating their provider relationship; they are always thinking, “what have you done for me lately?” Loyalty is built over time. To foster it, you and your staff must care for the patient at every touch point.

Use relationship notes to track personal events and remind yourself of what is important before each visit.
No one wants to redo dental work or constantly have new cavities… show patients how you are different by using Risk Factor conversations that show patients how you are actively seeking to lower their risk to new breakdown.

Never take a patient’s loyalty for granted

A patient’s willingness to return to your practice depends only partly on their need for your services. They can easily choose another dentist, if they are not happy with your practice.

Like man’s best friend, patients return to where they feel a sense of connection and belonging. To a place where they are treated with respect, and where their care results in positive outcomes.

PDA measures patient loyalty through a unique Raving Fan Index. If you are not a coaching client and would like a complimentary discovery of your Patient Loyalty, email us:

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