Patients are customers. Beyond quality orthodontic care, they are also looking for quality customer experiences and service. It’s a high touch industry and in need of more discussion and collaboration between the patient, their parents, and the orthodontist than has typically been seen.
Understanding this, there are many opportunities for orthodontists to develop larger and profitable practices based on the referrals they generate by the patient relationships they nurture.
“Old School” – vs – Current Successful Style – It used to be that orthodontists could simply rely on their office staff to work with the patients and handle any of their questions or needs and have the doctor simply handle the “technical” needs of the patient. The doctor used to only address one patient as needed before moving on to the next chair. The staff would be relegated to taking care of any patient needs and explanations.
Patients and their parents are now wanting the doctor to spend a minute or two connecting with them personally. Simply connecting with the patient on a personal level develops a relationship of trust and will engages the patient to take a more active role in their treatment plan.
What does this look like? It’s having your staff and the doctor working in tandem. The staff understands what needs to be done and does everything possible to make the patient and their parents feel as comfortable as possible. The doctor will not see the patient as “another set of teeth to straighten” or “just another mouth” but as a person with a personality. Small talk is more than polite chatter, but a chance to let the patient and doctor connect.
“I just didn’t get that warm feeling from the other practice.” This patient comment should be music to your ears. This comment means that they were most likely referred to a competing practice, yet it didn’t meet their connectivity needs, so they are looking to go elsewhere. You can earn their business by training your staff to look at everything within your practice from the patient perspective. Train your staff make patients and their parents feel comfortable, get to know their names, about learn a little bit about them.
Referrals are Worth More than Marketing Budgets. Sure, you’ll likely continue to have marketing as part of your budgets, but by connecting with your current patients, collaborating with them, discussing their treatment plans and their role in that, you’ll quickly recognize a loyal patient base that is eager to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Numerous studies show that a “word of mouth” referral is far more valuable than any media or print ad.