Generational Smiles: Strategies For Successful Treatment And Product Recommendations

Embracing the traditions of my father, a devoted Traditionalist, I continue the endearing practice of tipping with $2 bills.

His unique gesture always elicited smiles and prompted delightful conversations about cherished memories. He created a positive experience with his unique gesture.

As we sorted through his belongings after his passing at the age of 97, we stumbled upon a hidden treasure of… you guessed it, $2 dollar bills!

Tasked with inheriting this collection due to my frequent travels, I’ve adopted the joyful responsibility of perpetuating his legacy. Using these special bills for tips has become a heartwarming and enjoyable means for me to stay connected with him, keeping his spirit alive in the simple act of generosity.

Create a memorable, positive experiences that cater to the diverse needs of every generation

Have you ever found it challenging to connect with a patient or experienced resistance to treatment or product recommendations? The key may lie in understanding and bridging generational gaps in communication styles. Here is a strategic, comprehensive breakdown of four generations that today’s dental practices encounter. Included are insights on how to effectively interact with generational diversity in the dental practice.


Traditionalists (before 1946): Prefer Provider Guidance

Traditionalists appreciate clear and straightforward solutions when receiving recommendations from their healthcare provider. When presenting a treatment plan, aim for uncomplicated explanations that resonate with their preference for simplicity. Emphasize the longevity and durability of suggested solutions, ensuring they align with what suits them best. To bolster their confidence, offer real-life examples of patients within a similar age range who have undergone similar treatments successfully.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964): Valuing Personal Connection

Baby Boomers appreciate thorough explanations and prefer direct communication in person or by phone. They dislike feeling rushed, and taking the time for a relaxed discussion is crucial. Emphasize the benefits of a good smile and sound dental health, aligning their treatment with these values. Given their often-ample resources, schedule their treatments thoughtfully and extend an invitation for further questions.

Generation X (1965-1977): Ideal Plans and Clear Communication

Generation X, characterized by respect for authority and linear thinking, respond well to ideal treatment plans with phased scheduling and payment options. As high achievers, they value dental health for appearance and overall well-being. Follow-up communication, preferably through text or email, is appreciated.

Generation Y/Millennials (1978-1999): Desire Instant Gratification

Millennials are technology-dependent, seeking instant gratification and despising delays. To connect with them, be patient-attentive, provide same-day service, and combine appointments efficiently.

Gen Z (2000-2016): A Future-Focused Approach

Gen Z is future-oriented and prioritizes prevention while being cost-conscious. Deliver explanations and options that emphasize prevention, aligning with their forward-thinking mindset. As advocates for avoiding future expenses, they are an excellent fit for dental practices with a strong focus on preventive care.

Customizing dental product recommendations is equally crucial. Each generation has distinct preferences, needs, and communication styles that should be considered.

Traditionalists (Born before 1946): Simplicity and Reliability

• Keep it simple.
• Emphasize durability and reliability.
• Use respectful, formal language.
• Highlight products with a long history of success.
• Leverage personal testimonials and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964): Health, Aesthetics, and Trust

• Focus on health and aesthetics.
• Highlight products that improve or maintain appearance.
• Emphasize value for money and long-term benefits.
• Provide detailed information and studies to build trust.
• Adopt a professional and respectful tone.

Gen X (1965-1977): Convenience and Independence

• Offer convenience and practicality.
• Mention time-saving features or benefits.
• Use a straightforward, informative approach.
• Provide options and flexibility.
• Appeal to their desire for independence and self-care.

Gen Y (1978-1999): Technology and Social Values

• Emphasize technology and innovation.
• Align with environmental and social values.
• Utilize visuals, videos, and online reviews.
• Be concise and address cost-effectiveness and customization potential.

Gen Z (2000-2016): Technology and Sustainability

• Leverage technology and interactivity.
• Appeal to their desire for self-expression and uniqueness.
• Showcase products aligning with sustainability and ethical values.
• Use social media and influencers for recommendations.
• Keep the message short and visually engaging.

Adapting Strategies: Beyond Products to Communication

Customization extends beyond products to communication and marketing strategies. Consider different channels such as social media, email, or in-person consultations based on the preferences of the generation you are targeting. Gathering feedback from each generation can help refine recommendations over time, ensuring your dental practice meets their evolving needs and expectations. Embrace these insights to create a successful, patient-focused practice that caters to the diverse needs of every generation.

3 Reasons Dentists Should Engage With Google Reviews

In today’s digital age, online reviews hold significant sway over consumer decisions. Whether you’re searching for a restaurant, a vacation spot, or even a dentist, it has become second nature to consult Google reviews before making a choice.

As a dentist, your online reputation can make or break your practice. That’s why it’s crucial to actively engage with patient Google reviews, and here are three compelling reasons why you, as a dental practice, should personally respond to them.

Patient trust is the cornerstone of any successful dental practice. When you respond to Google reviews personally, you’re not just acknowledging the feedback; you’re demonstrating a genuine commitment to your patients’ well-being. This personal touch goes a long way in building trust and rapport with your patients. Visit the Google My Business Help Center for detailed information on managing your business’s online presence, including responding to reviews and optimizing your Google My Business listing.

Patient trust is the cornerstone of any successful dental practice. When you respond to Google reviews personally, you’re not just acknowledging the feedback; you’re demonstrating a genuine commitment to your patients’ well-being. This personal touch goes a long way in building trust and rapport with your patients. Visit the Google My Business Help Center for detailed information on managing your business’s online presence, including responding to reviews and optimizing your Google My Business listing.

Imagine this scenario: A patient named Sarah leaves a glowing five-star review, praising your gentle approach and effective treatment. You respond with a heartfelt thank-you message, expressing your gratitude for her kind words and emphasizing your dedication to providing exceptional care. Sarah, in turn, feels valued and appreciated as a patient.

On the flip side, if you receive a negative review, your personal response can turn the situation around. When addressing criticism, it’s essential to remain professional and empathetic. Apologize for any negative experience the patient had and offer to resolve the issue privately. This not only demonstrates your commitment to patient satisfaction but also shows potential patients that you take their concerns and privacy seriously.

In both cases, personalized responses to Google reviews demonstrate your active involvement and genuine concern for your patients’ experiences. This commitment to transparency and customer satisfaction fosters trust, making patients more likely to choose your dental practice over competitors.

Your online reputation can significantly impact your dental practice’s success. According to a BrightLocal survey, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, with 79% trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With this in mind, your Google review page is essentially your practice’s digital storefront.

By personally responding to reviews, you’re actively managing your online reputation. Positive responses to glowing reviews reinforce the positive image of your practice, while empathetic, professional responses to negative reviews demonstrate your commitment to addressing issues and improving patient experiences.

Additionally, regularly engaging with reviews can boost your practice’s visibility on Google. The search engine algorithm tends to favor businesses that actively engage with their customers. When you respond to reviews, it signals to Google that you’re an active and reputable business, potentially resulting in better search rankings and increased visibility to potential patients.

Patient Google reviews offer valuable insights into your practice’s strengths and areas for improvement. When you read reviews carefully and respond personally, you gain a deeper understanding of what your patients appreciate and what they find lacking in your services.

Positive reviews can highlight aspects of your practice that set you apart from the competition. Suppose multiple patients mention your friendly team, painless procedures, or efficient scheduling. In that case, you know these are key strengths you should continue to emphasize in your marketing efforts.

On the other hand, negative reviews can pinpoint areas where your practice may need improvement or coaching. Perhaps patients mention long wait times, unclear billing processes, or a lack of communication. These criticisms provide an opportunity for you to address these issues, improve your practice, and ultimately enhance the patient’s experience.

By responding to both positive and negative reviews personally, you can also gather more detailed feedback. Engage with patients by asking open-ended questions or inviting them to contact your office directly to discuss their concerns further. This not only shows your dedication to resolving issues but also provides you with direct feedback that can lead to meaningful improvements in your practice.

  • Look for webinars or online courses that focus on online reputation management and responding to reviews. Websites like LinkedIn Learning may have relevant courses.
  • Consider reaching out to professional dental associations and organizations in your region. They may offer guidance or resources specific to managing online reviews in the dental industry.
  • Collaborating with a marketing company can be a game-changer when it comes to enhancing your online presence. In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence is crucial for businesses of all sizes.

By responding to patient Google reviews personally is an essential aspect of managing your dental practice’s online reputation. It builds trust, enhances your online image, and provides valuable feedback for continuous improvement.

As you engage with your patients online, remember that every response is an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with existing patients and attract new ones. Don’t underestimate the power of a personal response in the world of digital dentistry.

Watch this Live, Recorded Webinar by Lisa Copeland, CEO of Communicate With Influence and Adrian Lefler, CEO of My Social Practice on Mastering Google Business Profiles for Dental Marketing: Reviews, Messaging, and HIPAA Compliance.

Communicating with Patients Through Google Business Profiles

🌟 Exciting News: Special Edition Guest Blog with Adrian Lefler! 🌟

At Communicate With Influence, we’re always seeking fresh insights, and today, we’re thrilled to introduce a special blog by Adrian Lefler, CEO at My Social Practice – a dental digital marketing expert. Adrian is joining us to share an exclusive article on leveraging Google Business Profiles for patient communication. Get ready for a unique perspective on marketing your dental practice! 💡🦷

Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

These days, consistent and accessible communication is more important than ever for patients. When people feel seen and heard, they feel like a valuable part of your practice and are less likely to take their business elsewhere.

One way to increase communication with current and prospective patients is to take advantage of Google’s chat feature for small businesses. It’s also a great strategy for dental marketing because it provides more opportunities to gain new patients.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about Google messaging, how to get set up, and what you can do to make the process as easy as possible.

What is a Google Business Profile?

First and foremost, in order to use Google’s messaging feature, you must have a Google Business Profile (GBP).

A Google Business Profile is your official listing on Google and one of the most important first steps when establishing proper SEO for dentists. It is your practice’s online calling card and a way for you to gather reviews, manage your business, and connect with potential patients.

Google Business Profiles provide important information about your business. When setting up your GBP, make sure to include as much detail as possible. A GBP includes:

  • Business name
  • Phone number
  • Physical address
  • Reviews
  • Business category
  • Hours of operation 
  • Link to your website
  • Link to Google Maps directions
  • Photos of your business
  • A “call” button that links to your business phone number
  • Question & Answer section
  • “Chat” button that opens up a messaging window

Why is a GBP So Important?

Without a Google Business Profile, your practice will not show up on Google Maps, and your local SEO will suffer. With 77% of consumers using Google Maps to search for local businesses, getting your practice on the list of search results with a GBP is crucial.

When searching on Google, GBP results are the ones with the yellow star ratings next to them (as long as a business has reviews). These search results are also called a Google Map Pack or Google Local Pack, and they show up right below sponsored listings. Local Packs receive about 44% of total clicks on a Google search results page.

Google Maps SEO

Once you’ve set up your Google Business Profile, you can implement Google Maps SEO to improve your search rankings. By doing simple things like adding relevant keywords in your business description, finding the right business category, and updating your GBP regularly, you can beat out competitors for a coveted top spot in the search results.

Google Reviews

Along with Google Maps, a Google Business Profile also includes Google Reviews. The more positive reviews your practice has, the better because people value social proof very highly—like advice from a friend.

If you’re wondering how to get more Google reviews for your practice, you can always recruit help from a dental marketing company.

Communicating with Patients Through Your Google Business Profile

There are several ways to communicate with patients through your Google Business Profile. You can respond to reviews, answer Q&A’s, receive phone calls, and get connected through a link to your website. These are all crucial functions of a GBP, but the chat feature can be one of the most important ways to communicate.

Imagine a patient searching for dentists in their area. The top three results might all have several 5-star reviews, photos, and even great websites, but yours could be the one to stand out with the addition of a chat button.

Rather than delving into each practice’s website, the patient might choose to chat right away with your practice—the practice with the most accessible communication option.

How To Turn On Chat Notifications In Your GBP

Now that you understand the Google Business Profile and its messaging feature, along with why having access to these tools is so important, it’s time to turn chat on and start chatting!

Enabling messaging through your Google Business Profile is simple.

For Mobile Devices:

First, open the Google Maps app

On the bottom right corner, select “Business”

Select “Messages”

Select “More” then “Message Settings”

Turn Chat on or off

For Desktop

Open your Google Business Profile Manager

Select “Messages”

Select “Menu” then “More” followed by “Chat Settings”

Turn on or off Chat

Once the chat feature is enabled, you can begin receiving messages directly to your Google Business Profile. On a mobile device, you can access these messages in the Google Maps app, and on a Desktop, you can read your messages in the Google Business Profile management center on a web browser.

How To Respond to GBP Messages

Responding to GBP messages should be pretty straightforward. Google includes an automated feature that allows you to pre-fill some questions and answers for instant responses, but otherwise, you will need to access your inbox and respond ASAP.

When responding to messages in your Google Business Profile inbox, remember that you are representing your practice as a whole. All responses should be professional, courteous, and timely. 

  • Be Prompt

One caveat of the GBP messaging feature is that you have to respond to messages within 24 hours in order to keep the button on your page active. If you fail to respond, the chat feature will automatically be disabled.

Potential patients will be able to see a response time estimation for your practice such as “usually responds within 24 hours” or “usually responds in a few hours.”

  • Be Professional

It’s also vital to match the tone of your dental practice when responding to GBP messages. Be polite and professional, avoid slang, and answer to the best of your ability. As a dental professional, you might get questions about things like insurance coverage, cost of procedures, holiday hours, or anesthesia.

  • Be HIPAA Compliant

Another important factor to keep in mind any time you’re communicating on behalf of your practice is to stay HIPAA compliant. Never divulge Protected Health Information. This includes things like confirming the names of patients, personal details like phone numbers or addresses, and billing information.

As you get the hang of responding, you’ll also learn important information about what patients in your area are interested in. You can use that knowledge to improve your marketing strategies and draw more potential patients.

Plus, the more responsive you are with GBP messaging, the higher you’ll rank on Google Maps. This dental SEO guide provides more tips on Google Maps ranking.

Integration with The Dental Social Media Publisher

If your practice uses the Dental Social Media Publisher, managing GBP messaging will be even more accessible. GBP chat functionality integrates into the Dental Social Media Publisher, so you can publish your dental social media content and respond to Google queries all at the same time.

Social media for dentists can get overwhelming. From planning content to execution and scheduling, many dental professionals start to feel stretched thin. That’s why tools like the Dental Social Media Publisher can be so beneficial to your marketing strategy. The Dental Social Media Publisher allows your practice to automate, multitask, and see results in real-time.

Conclusion: Communicate Through Google and Win More Patients

Whether your goal is to improve your Google Maps ranking or get more reviews, using the messaging feature on your Google Business Profile can be a great way to bolster your practice’s online presence.

Try turning on the chat feature on your Google Business Profile, integrate the service with the Dental Social Media Publisher, and see what kind of questions come rolling in. You might be surprised how much this tool can help patients in your area, and help your practice grow.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

Securing Dental Talent in Turbulent Times: Strategies from Leaders

Position Your Practice for Long-term Success

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and retaining top talent in the dental industry has become more challenging than ever. As we navigate the “Great Resignation,” it’s crucial for dental practices to rethink their approach to talent management. Drawing inspiration from industry leaders like Chick-fil-A, we can uncover valuable strategies to create a positive workplace culture, hire the right team members, invest in employee growth, and provide exceptional customer service.

Your Employee Experience Is Your Employment Brand

In 2018, Gallup’s workplace analytics team emphasized the importance of the employee experience as the cornerstone of your employment brand. While many companies prioritize business strategy and financial aspects, it’s essential to remember that culture often outranks strategy in shaping your organization’s success. Culture encompasses the tangible actions and beliefs of your team, serving as the pulse of your practice. It’s what happens when the leader (not just the boss) leaves the room, and it continues to gain momentum by inspiring your people to conform to it. A strong culture unites everyone across different departments.

Empower Your Team with Problem-Solving Skills

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Encourage team members to develop SOPs as guides for handling specific situations such as team member conflicts, difficult patients, HIPAA compliance, and OSHA requirements. Assign a leader responsible for updating these guidelines to ensure everyone stays informed.

  1. Diverse Problem-Solving Skills: While it’s impossible to anticipate every issue, you can prepare your team with diverse problem-solving skills. These skills are invaluable when facing unexpected situations, fostering adaptability and resilience.

Build a Team-Centric Culture

  1. Continuous Education: Prioritize team attendance at Continuing Education (CE) courses, whether live or virtual, throughout the year. Set goals for attending conferences and encourage knowledge sharing in team meetings.
  2. Software Updates and Training: Stay up-to-date with software and technology advancements relevant to your practice. Ensure that your team receives the necessary training to maximize their efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Wellness Officer: Appoint a volunteer “wellness officer” responsible for checking in on employee health and monitoring the practice’s overall well-being. This role helps maintain a healthy work environment and strengthens team bonds.

Be Empathetic, Flexible, and Transparent

Times are stressful, impacting morale, health, wellness, and performance. Being empathetic, flexible, and practicing active listening can alleviate these challenges and strengthen team cohesion.
Transparency is crucial in maintaining trust and fostering a positive work environment. Keep your team informed about the state of the business, the COVID-19 situation, and emotional well-being.

Borrowing Ideas from Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A consistently ranks as a top-rated company for customer service. Their success is built on four strategic pillars that dentistry can adapt:

  1. Positive Culture
    • Your leadership should embody your practice’s core values and mission statement.
    • Ensure that your values influence your hiring decisions.
  2. Hiring Team Members That Fit Your Culture
    • During the hiring process, emphasize your practice’s core values to potential candidates.
    • Avoid hiring just to fill a void, as one negative team member can affect the entire office.
  3. Invest in Growing Team Member’s Skills
    • Provide comprehensive training for new team members, which pays off when they handle their responsibilities confidently.
    • Show your team members that they are valued, offer opportunities for growth, and invest in their development.
  4. Employees Comprehensively Trained in Customer Service
    • Focus on creating a positive work environment and nurturing relationships within your team.
    • Trust and empower your employees to handle customer service situations effectively.

Conclusion

By implementing these strategies, dental practices can not only attract but also retain exceptional talent during the challenging times of the “Great Resignation.” Building a positive culture, hiring the right fit, investing in growth, and prioritizing customer service will not only help you navigate the current talent shortage but also position your practice for long-term success. Your leadership will be the key determinant in achieving a better and more satisfying outcome for your team and your patients alike.

Resources

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

Unlocking the Enigma of Generation Z: Idealism Meets Pragmatism

Exploring the Unique Qualities of Gen Z Allows Us to Navigate Generational Dynamics

In a Newsweek article, journalist Adam Piore unveiled some intriguing insights into Generation Z, often perceived as idealists and dreamers. However, Gen Z distinguishes itself through a blend of global and local concerns that set them apart from previous generations.

Breaking the Stereotypes

Before delving into Gen Z’s distinctive characteristics, it’s worth noting that Newsweek has featured cover stories about every generation. Frequently, these stories touch upon familiar themes such as entitlement and work ethics. But Gen Z is challenging these stereotypes in unexpected ways.

Gen Z’s Top Concerns

Contrary to the image of carefree youth, Generation Z has its sights firmly set on the future, with specific concerns dominating their thoughts. Gen Z’s worries are highly practical and include money (67%), securing a job (64%), and affording college education (59%). These concerns reveal a pragmatic mindset and a clear focus on personal well-being and financial stability.

Defining a Generational Cohort

What truly defines a generational cohort? According to the US Census Bureau, it’s the events they encounter during their formative years. These events, whether global, technological, economic, or social, interact with the life cycle and aging process to mold people’s worldviews. Often, these moments are accompanied by fear and uncertainty, leaving an indelible emotional impact.

Generational Experiences: Shaping Perspectives

For instance, consider the Vietnam War era, a defining event for the Baby Boomer generation. During this period, older adults felt fear and worry, having experienced the horrors of World War II. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, exhibited mixed emotions—fear coupled with a sense of excitement, as they anticipated sharing this experience with friends. For Generation X, like me, it was the stress of living through this uncertain time.

The Generational Lens

This generational lens allows researchers to explore not only how older adults felt about a particular issue in their youth but also how views evolve across generations. It helps us understand how events shape the way we perceive the world and how these perceptions transcend age boundaries.

Gen Z: The Emerging Giant

Gen Z, the cohort succeeding the Millennials (aka Gen Y), comprises an astonishing 25% of the US population, making them the largest generation yet, surpassing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. But it’s not just birth years that define a generation; geography also plays a substantial role. Additionally, Cuspers, individuals born within three to five years of the beginning or end of a generation, offer unique insights. They straddle two generations, making them exceptionally empathetic and adept at understanding the generational “DNA.”

Generational Context: Different Experiences, Different Impact

Generational context is vital in comprehending how different generations react to the same events. Events can impact generations differently, leaving a lasting imprint on their collective consciousness.

Audience Check-In: Do You Know What Cohort You Are?

Now, let’s see where you fall. Raise your hand if you identify as a Baby Boomer, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennial), or Gen Z. The more you understand about yourself and how you are perceived, the easier it is to adapt to other generations.

Gen Z’s Workplace Revolution

When it comes to being employees, Gen Z is poised to revolutionize the workplace. They seek more than just superficial alignment with company brands. Their expectation is that companies and brands will transcend marketing buzzwords and make tangible, measurable differences in society. This pragmatic approach resonates not only in their expectations of employers but also in their personal concerns, reflecting a generation that values real-world impact.

Conclusion

Generation Z, the largest cohort yet, defies stereotypes with their forward-looking, pragmatic mindset. They are defined not only by their birth years but also by the unique experiences that shape their worldview. Cuspers, those straddling two generations, offer a special perspective, making them invaluable bridges between age groups. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape of generational dynamics, understanding the distinct qualities and concerns of each cohort is crucial for fostering empathy and building a more inclusive society.

To deepen your comprehension of generational cohorts and enhance collaborative efforts across age groups, I invite you to arrange a discovery call with me. This session will provide an opportunity for us to delve into the intricacies and investigate the specific aspects that pique your interest.

Bonus

Seeking ways to enhance team communication while enjoying a winter retreat? It’s time to kick off your preparations for the CE In The Mountains all-team event, scheduled for February 23-24, 2024, in the picturesque Park City, UT.

This event will center around improving communication and boosting productivity through engaging activities in the stunning mountain setting.

Watch the short video below for more details.

5 Strategies for Improving the Patient Experience in Your Dental Practice

The patient experience is a critical factor in the success of any dental practice. Patients who have positive experiences are more likely to return for future appointments, refer friends and family, and leave positive reviews.

In contrast, patients who have negative experiences may not return and can potentially harm the reputation of the practice. Here are some strategies that dental professionals can use to improve the patient experience in their practice.

1. Focus On Communication

Clear and effective communication is key to ensuring a positive patient experience. Dental professionals should take the time to listen to their patient’s concerns and explain procedures and treatments in a way that patients can understand. Providing patients with clear instructions after treatment can also help improve the patient experience.

  • Listen: Dental professionals can demonstrate active listening by repeating patients’ concerns back to them and asking intentional follow-up questions to ensure that they understand the issue.
  • Use plain language: Avoid using technical jargon that patients may not understand.
  • Provide written instructions: After a procedure or treatment, provide patients with written or text instructions on what to expect and how to continue care at home.

2. Improve The Welcome/Reception Experience

Waiting rooms can be a source of anxiety for patients, so it’s important to make them as comfortable and welcoming as possible. A Reception Area is a much more appealing name. Offer amenities such as video loops, relaxing music, magazines, comfortable seating, complimentary beverages, and fresh flowers (be careful of strong scents), and diverse artwork.

Keeping patients informed about wait times and updating them on any delays can also help reduce anxiety. Use technology such as text messaging or a digital display to keep patients informed.

Smile, be personable, and check in frequently to keep the patient in the know.

3. Personalize The Experience

Every patient is unique and has different needs and preferences. Dental professionals can improve the patient experience by taking the time to build relationships with their patients and tailor their care accordingly.

  • Offer sedation for anxious patients or provide special accommodations for patients with disabilities.
  • For patients with disabilities, provide accommodations such as a wheelchair ramp, accessible restroom, or sign language interpreter.
  • Ask patients about their preferences and needs, such as whether they prefer a certain type of music or would like a blanket during treatment.

4. Use Technology To Enhance The Patient Experience

Technology can be a powerful tool for improving the patient journey. For example, online appointment scheduling can make it easier for patients to book appointments at their convenience, and digital patient portals can allow patients to access and update their health information and communicate with their dental team.

  • Allowing patients to schedule appointments online at their convenience means you’ll never miss an opportunity.
  • Offering patients a secure digital portal helps keep patient records and information secure and up to date.

5. Solicit Feedback From Patients

The best way to understand the patient experience is to ask patients directly. Dental professionals can use surveys, feedback forms, or focus groups to gather input from patients and identify areas where they can improve.

  • Send patients a survey after their appointment to gather feedback on their experience and identify areas for improvement.
  • Invite patients to participate in focus groups where they can share their experiences and provide feedback on how the practice can improve.
  • Always reply to ALL patient comments. The interaction provides one more touchpoint to keep your practice top of mind.

Improving the patient journey requires a commitment to ongoing communication, personalization, and continuous improvement. By focusing on these 5 strategies, dental professionals can create a welcoming and supportive environment that encourages patients to prioritize their oral health and return for future appointments.

Bonus:  Watch 4 Tips to Improve the Patient Journey

Principles of Building Team Wellness and Patient Relationships

Relationships are the bridges that lead us to success, build trust, and loyalty. Practice high-quality communication first, followed by our technical excellence for patients to understand their needs. Communication consistency is the key.

Unclear communication impacts relationships among team members, referring doctors, and vendors that we interact with regularly. By building communication bridges we grow our practice.  If we customize our language, and how we speak to our patients and each other, we will encounter fewer misunderstandings, less stress, and improve productivity. Customizing our language is achieved by standardizing and practicing scripts and guidelines collaboratively developed by the team.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Many practices deliver information the same way to every patient. This can lead to confusion and/or resistance. I frequently challenge teams to customize their language to meet the patients’ expectations. 99% of the time they have never thought of changing their delivery style.

Clarify with each patient their communication preferences.

Consider adding questions to your health history template, such as:

  • “What is your preferred method of communication?  
  • “Would you like me to text, email, or call you?”

A more senior generational patient will want a phone call because they enjoy speaking to people and they may not have advanced knowledge of technology. Gen X is all about efficiency and generally prefer texting. Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z demand texting. They do not look at their email or check their voicemail. If you’re sending appointment reminders via email, you’re probably not getting a good response from younger generations. Nor is it creating a positive experience for them. For more generational guidelines click here.

Putting It All Into Practice

Building relationships is step one in educating and training the entire team.

When referring to the entire team, that includes the dentist. Too often, dentists send their team to an educational event, and they don’t participate. “The entire team” is all-inclusive.

All-team collaboration and learning builds a stable foundation that leads to increased engagement, productivity, and team wellness.

Each team member is responsible for understanding all of the procedures that your practice provides. We should be comfortable explaining and supporting every treatment opportunity we offer to our patients. Each department typically learns its own processes and procedures but doesn’t have an overall view of the practice menu of services. By developing guidelines for speaking the same language to patients, in reference to procedures, we will maximize the treatment case acceptance.

At your Morning Stand-up or Huddle, before you start seeing patients for the day, recognize specific needs of the scheduled patients. For example, “ Mr. Rogers is coming in at 11 am. We will need room #3 for treatment because he uses a wheelchair. He usually requires one or two bathroom breaks and has some special needs which are highlighted in his chart” Meeting the patient where they are and speaking the right generational language will positively impact their dental journey experience. Remember, relationships are the bridges that lead us to success.

Communication Consistency Is Key

Everybody should answer questions the same way all day, every day. That goes back to having guidelines. We know most of the questions the patients are going to ask:

  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How much does my insurance cover?
  • What are my other options?
  • Do you have payment options?
  • Is this treatment really necessary?
  • Can I wait to start the treatment?

As a team, we can come up with many different communications that we use regularly. Add onto this list at an all-team meeting and fabricate team answers for each question to guide the conversation. These scripts allow us to provide consistent information to our patients.  They are less likely to misunderstand or ‘test’ the team. If they ask a hygienist the same question that they ask an administrative assistant and get different answers, you’ve lost the patient’s trust. They probably will not schedule their next appointment until they understand the treatment better.

My Concern for You

If we don’t establish a relationship with the patient, they will not move forward with accepting the treatment plan. They may not refer patients because they aren’t as comfortable as they’d like to be in your practice. They don’t market your practice. They don’t contribute to your business growth or production.

If the patient says “NO”, the team should investigate why they are hesitant to commit to our practice and procedure recommendations.

  • What went wrong?
  • What was the first impression this patient had of us?
  • Did the patient have a negative experience?

Ask intentional questions and practice active listening to move the patient from “NO” to “YES”.

Want more communication tips?

Watch the short video below.

What Do Eating Pancakes and Shoveling Snow Have in Common?

If you had done either of these activities with my father, you would know the answer is “Systems”.

Growing up in a small suburb of Scranton PA, with a Pennsylvanian Dutch dad, we learned about systems and processes to be more effective and efficient in all of life’s tasks.

That included eating pancakes and shoveling snow.

In my opinion, the proper way to eat pancakes is to stack them up and cut a hole, my preference is square, in the center through the stack. Remove the pancake pieces from the hole and set them alongside the stack. Here’s the fun part, fill the hole with overflow syrup so it oozes down the stack. Start eating by dipping the pieces into the well of syrup. As you cut into the stack, leave the ‘syrup well’ in tack and work your way around the stack. Finally, break the syrup dam and enjoy several bites of pancake sponge! The last bite is always the best!

Snow shoveling followed a similar step-by-step process, in an organizational pattern, to finish quickly so we could play in the huge snowbanks!

Dentistry without systems is chaotic.

A successful practice is a product of the quality of your systems and the team’s ability to implement them.

Structuring systems is not an easy task. But the investment you make upfront will show in your practice productivity.

Systems should be non-negotiable, yet fluid, to allow for continual monitoring and updates. 

Get started by investigating some of your systems:

  • Practice Software:
    • Scheduling, communication tools, confirmation variety – customized to the patients preference
  • Telecommunications: 
    • Calibrated, consistent conversations
  • Lab Case Tracing
  • Referral Tracking
  • Marketing Strategies
  • Ongoing Team Communication / Systems Training
    • Consistent daily, weekly, monthly, and annual department/team meetings
    • Measure what is working, or not, and adapt accordingly

Now is the time to get more productive by revving up your systems.

This blog is dedicated to my father, who passed away recently at age 96!  

Guess all those systems paid off for a long, productive, happy life! 

Thanks for teaching me in so many ways dad. (1925-2021)