Annoying Your Patients?

Are you annoying your patients?
If so, they are going to leave your practice!

Earlier this week, I was on a coaching call with my incredible mentor, Sandi Krakowski and 20 other students, when Maria (a student) told me she "fired" her dentist this week!  I could still hear the frustration in her voice when she was trying to explain what happened. She had mentioned that her dentist kept calling her on her phone to schedule appointments for her and the kids (family of 5). She was terribly annoyed that they kept calling and calling. She stated that she requested for them to email her, to which they replied that they do not DO EMAIL!


So instead of taking up all the time on the call, I asked Maria to send me an email about what was going on.  With her permission, here are some of the words she wrote in her email:

“…most importantly, in my mind, if this doctor can’t even handle email in this day and age, how can I trust that he is keeping up with the latest treatments, equipment and products in market.  How can I trust that my sons and I will get a good assessment and treatment if needed”?

“…but I am not going back there with my family and that means losing not one, but 5 people/patients”.

H    E    L    L    O    ? ? ?  I hope I've got your attention….!

That's really painful to hear; however, PERCEPTION is REALITY.  Maria's perception of the doctor's ability is based on the staff's available tools for communicating with patients, and how she was treated (attitude).  These are things that don't have anything to do with the doctors technical abilities.
 
What bothers me the most is that this doctor may be the world's best dentist, but because he's probably not aware of a simple tool, and a little training, he lost 5 patientsWhat’s more, it's possible that the doctor may not even be aware that this is going on. This is another reason why I’m a big fan of recording inbound phone calls to the office for training purposes.  (email me for more information about this service)

It is my sincere desire (with passion) to bring this kind of issue to light for dentists all over the world! 
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My last post “Swiss Cheese Appointment Book”  highlighted one of the major problems in dentistry in the “New Economy”; holes in your schedule. It IS a problem in professional practices everywhere!  I gave a few tips on how working on the mindset and the culture of the office to help reduce theses dreaded holes.
In this post, you’ll learn about some great tools that you can use in your dental office.  Here are some of the benefits you'll be able to realize in your office right away:
 
  • Communicate with your patients without annoying them.
  • Keep your patients HAPPY !
  • Keep you schedule FULL.
  • Minimize “NO SHOWS” and “LATE NOTICE CANCELLATIONS”.
  • Reach patients where they are at.
  • Satisfy your patient communication preferences.
  • Save time from calling patients.
  • Personalize messages to individuals needs.
  • Save money.
  • Reduce headaches.

Sesame Communications conducted a research project designed to identify what Web-savvy patients are looking for online.  The first study focused on general dental and orthodontic practices, and the second study, in collaboration with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), focused on cosmetic patients. 

"One of the most significant findings is that patient preference has shifted drastically with an astounding 97% preferring to communicate with you online rather than calling your practice during office hours".

I recently posted a question on Facebook and asked many of my friends how they were contacted by their dentist for confirmations and follow up visits. They were also asked which method their preference would be for being contacted; the results were amazing! (see the Facebook results here)

The overwhelming majority of dentists are still contacting patients with a PHONE CALL; yet over 95% of the people I've contacted would PREFER the dentist to communicate with them via EMAIL or TEXT ! ! ! 

Over 50% of the people that responded or that I spoke with would PREFER a “TEXT” reminder instead of a phone call. “EMAIL” was the next desired preference for communication.  And several people pointed out that it was IMPORTANT to know that they HAVE A CHOICE.

I am aware that there are many practices with patients that do not use texting on their phones, but with over 6 BILLION people with mobile devices (and growing), I’d pay close attention to this unbelievable trend. If you want to stay ahead of the curve and not get too far behind those that are embracing this tremendous shift in the way we communicate, I would recommend taking action right now and start learning about these tools.
 
There are some great software tools available for confirming appointments and appointment reminders (via text or email), personalizing communications with your patients, paying their bill online, making appointments, creating custom marketing messages, delivering post-appointment surveys, newsletters and much more.

There are many companies with the above mentioned capabilities, but based on my research, these THREE are the best.
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Demandforce ~ Growth. On Demand.
DEMANDFORCE

Demandforce creates consumer demand. They transform your patient base into a powerful social network, allowing you to communicate, improve your online reputation, and bring patients back more often. It integrates with your practice management software, making it very easy to use!

Google is the largest network of Internet services, and the world's most popular search engine. It's in a category by itself. You probably use it often, as do your customers. In fact, over 65% of all online searches are conducted using Google (according to 2010 research conducted by Comscore). One of the best places on Google for consumers to learn about your business is within Google Places (formerly Google Local Business Center). Demandforce WebFeed is a data provider to Google , so your Google Places page is always complete and current.

DemandForce is your "Digital Consultant"
Demandforce offers its revolutionary Digital Consultant, a feature that enables your practice to measure critical indicators directly from the Demandforce system. By syncing with your practice management system and matching results against national averages, Demandforce gives you performance metrics for both your online and "offline" patients. Use this data to identify potential problems before they occur, and steer your business where it needs to go.

One of the big advantages of Demand Force is that it is the only one of these software companies that integrates and automatically posts reviews to you Google Places listing!  This gives you BOOSTS in your places listing (moves you up the map)!
 

THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!
Inc. magazine just announced Demandforce, Inc. as one of the fastest-growing, privately held companies in the United States for the second year in a row. Highlights include: 816% Three Year Growth Rate 8th Fastest Growing Software Company in California #361 in the Inc. 500 Overall “We are proud to be once again recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States,” said Rick Berry, president of Demandforce.

 

Smile Reminder

 
Patient Messaging Software Suite  – Smile Reminder is the market leader in patient messaging and provides an ALL-inclusive suite of personalized patient communication tools for one flat monthly fee. No extra per message costs (text or email) or support fees are ever charged. Everything is included!

Software as a Service – Smile Reminder is a SERVICE, not a product. This means you have all the benefits of ownership without the burden of a high cost maintenance contract.

Aquire New Patinets-$1.2MM in NEW PATIENT referrals.

 Retain Existing Patients– According to a Harvard Business Review; the average practice losses 50% of its’ patient base every 5 years.

 Reactivate -practices using Smile Reminder, produce an AVERAGE of $51,232 in electronic recare in their first year.

Favorite Features for Dental Professionals:

Filling cancellations with ASAP list text message
Last minute text appointment reminders
Electronic recall/recare (Instant Income)
Custom marketing/promotions
Post-appointment surveys
Online bill pay
Patient testimonials
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Sesame Communications


"84% of orthodontists
and 77% of dentists surveyed told us the use of SMS text reminders in their practice decreased no-show appointments".

The first complete online solution in Patient Connection Systems
A single provider, this suite of services encompasses the entire patient lifecycle–from new patients through treatment completion, to patients referring friends & family–all by leveraging the power of online tools. Sesame 24-7 is the only complete online communication solution designed and tested with dental professionals. This best-in-class system integrates your practice website with Search Engine Optimization, patient log-in portals, patient feedback mechanisms, automated appointment reminders, online marketing modules, and online doctor-to-doctor case collaboration.

Sesame reminders offer many services:

  

Welcome Emails
Appointment Reminders
Procedure Settings
Recall Reminder
Post-Appointment Feedback
Patient Referral
No-Show Alert
Financial Reminder
Expiring Benefits Reminder
Flex Spending Reminder
Birthday Greetings
Holiday Greeting

  

In Summary….
All three of these above software companies provide similar features with the benefits being the same to the practice and for the patients; when used properly they will help your practice with "
increased revenue, streamlined efficiencies and help to build patient loyalty".

Quality communications with patients still remains the most important ingredient in building a successful dental practice.  Patients are busier than ever before, so it's important to communicate in ways that they desire.  Using this technology is sending a message to patients that you are concerned about their dental health AND their time.  The patient's perception of your practice will be that you are "high tech" and that your customer service is superior.  So, take action and start communicating with your patients best interest in mind.
 
 
Live with passion, implement and reap the rewards!