For dental practices, friction is anything that negatively impacts the patient experience.
Read on for an explanation of how this concept is relevant in the modern business environment, and more importantly, why it matters for your dental practice, especially in the post COVID era.
Research tells us 60% of patients are likely to abandon you if they experience just a single bad experience – even if you are better than your competition! Startling, isn’t it? Today’s patient expects a flawless and seamless experience from the first call to checkout. Allow obstacles in the patient journey and you stand to lose them to your competition.
Amazon prides itself on its “frictionless” customer experience – a couple of clicks and you’re good to go. That is exactly how you should aim to run your dental practice. I’ll share with you the core elements of this approach and how to ensure you are providing an amazing patient experience.
Understanding the Frictionless Patient Experience
As I said, Friction is anything that negatively impacts the overall patient experience. From long waits in reception to your front office mixing up patient details, there are several factors that can add needless complication to the patient experience.
Your goal should be to eliminate procedural inefficiencies and frustrations by keeping the patient’s journey as straightforward as possible. Not only will this approach lessen the pressure on your team, but it will help your practice stand out in a highly competitive dental market.
Here are some underlying factors that contribute to friction and what you should do to run a frictionless practice.
People don’t like to wait. Not to mention our desire for instant gratification is reinforced by the Ubers, Amazons, and Apples of the modern business age.
You must understand that most of your patients won’t accept unreasonable delays, and when you add discomfort to the equation, the problem is no less than a customer-service time bomb.
While some of us may be more patient than others, we ALL have a breaking point – we’ve all snapped at someone at the other end of a phone call. So, the key is to audit your system and trim off the extra seconds it takes to serve your patients.
Check to see if your front office is overloaded with patient call volume on certain days or at certain times during the day. If your patient volume has been steadily growing, you may need to hire additional staff to cater to an increase in patients.
Another option is to leverage automation and online tools. Calling in should one of the options to get in touch with your practice, not the only option. Utilize tools such as chatbots on your website and Facebook page to answer basic client queries and to collect patient information. The multi-channel approach will significantly improve staff productivity while eliminating procedural friction.
We are wired to respond positively when someone takes our name or displays an interest in any aspect of our lives. The same philosophy forms the cornerstone of wildly successful salespeople and businesses.
Your patients will expect a certain degree of personalization when they walk through the doors of your practice.
You can put this into practice by following a simple procedure. Ask your front desk attendant to greet the patient by name the moment they walk in. The should have the patient’s past dental record ready and ask them about their previous experience and put in the effort to thoroughly understand the purpose of their visit.
Moreover, strive to build in feedback cycles throughout the patient journey to help you spot service gaps and to form a better understanding of patient pain points.
Apart from showing your practice’s drive to achieve excellence, the added personalization lays a strong foundation for a long-term relationship. Moreover, if you ever make a mistake, the client will be more forgiving.
Quick access to patient data:
If your patients have to repeat their details every time they come in, it will add an extra layer of “work” for them along with leaving a sour taste. Not to mention it lays bare your lack of preparation and intent.
Prompt availability of historical patient information at every patient touchpoint throughout your practice will profoundly improve the overall patient experience. As they move from the front office to waiting lobby to the treatment rooms, there should be seamless CRM connectivity throughout to ensure immediate data access to the concerned personnel.
No matter how well you serve your clients or patients; there will be times when they encounter trouble. However, you can minimize the chances by anticipating some commonly faced issues and providing a quick solution.
Your patients should not have to reach out to your front office every time they have a question. And let’s be honest – most of us aren’t huge fans of holding on a phone to get our problem sorted out.
The best way is to have a well-thought-out FAQ section on your website and other digital assets such as your social media pages. They should address common patient issues. Maybe they had trouble with their credit card details or they want to reschedule the appointment or they have some questions about insurance coverage. Keep the language simple and the steps easy-to-follow. And avoid using technical or corporate jargon.
Apart from easing pressure on your staff, a well-crafted knowledgebase will empower your clients to take control of the problem-solving process thereby giving an impression of ease and promptness.
Sub-par communication from your staff is the easiest way to lose valuable clients – don’t ever leave them scratching their heads. Your staff needs to constantly and clearly inform them about the status of their query.
If your patients have to second-guess where they in the process, it will lead to needless frustration. Ideally, they should get a call from your practice after pre-defined intervals. Along with adding personalization, listening to a human voice will ease their nerves and will come across as reassuring. If calling individual clients is not an option, then regular text or email updates should be sent out.
The constant patient communication will also keep your practice at the top of the patient’s mind and serve as an effective tool to position your practice as the most solution to their dental problems.
I’d like to invite you to attend a no-cost online training event, Dental Practice Excellence, where we examine some of the weaknesses in the way dental practices are run, and how to overcome them. And you can always give us a call at 954 323 2220 to talk about how we can specifically help your practice achieve its full potential.