The Office

Word of Mouth and Your Practice

Word of Mouth

Your Dental Practice

Are you interested in growing your dental practice without investing thousands of dollars in more advertising? The answer is as close as your specialty — it’s all about your clients’ mouths!

What your clients say about your practice has a significant impact on how fast you grow. Client referrals can bring in new, high-quality patients that fit your ideal customer profile.

How can you increase customer referrals to grow your business? Or if you have a referral program, how can you make it better? Here are the tips you need.

Create a Referral Program

A referral program is the easiest way to get your current patients to refer others to you. Don’t think your practice is too small to benefit from a referral program — word of mouth marketing can amplify your brand thousands of times over.

81% of consumers are influenced by social media posts from their friends and family. Every patient you have can impact hundreds of people and move them one step closer to choosing your dental clinic.

All you have to do is encourage your current customers to tell others about you. How do you set up a referral program? Here are some ideas.

Thank you

Make Sure You Keep Things Ethical

There are limits to what you can do to encourage referrals. Make sure you stay within the legal and ethical boundaries of the dental industry.

For instance, you can’t treat some patients better than others. You can’t offer a referral — or a referring patient — faster treatment, preferential service, or other care-related benefits. However, you can offer a reward as a thank you for a referral.

You’ll also want to make sure that someone is assigned to administering the referral program so that everyone gets the benefits they are due.

Starting a Dental Referral Program

The first step when creating a referral program is to decide on the rewards. The simplest thing to do is to offer new patients a discount on their first visit. You can create referral cards to make it easy for your customers to refer people they know.

However, don’t just stick with printed materials. Create an email list for your customers and, along with promotions and reminders, share useful information that they can forward to friends and family. Also, give them information and posts that they can share on social media.

Once you’ve decided on the referral discount, it’s time to think about your customers’ benefits. You can offer gift cards, deals on specific services, or even monthly drawings for a larger prize.

You might also consider having events for your referring patients. An appreciation event can help your customers feel even better about sending new patients your way.

Invite the Best Patients First

If you want to start small, especially if the cost is a concern, you can begin by just inviting your best patients. The ones who always have a kind word to say about your services and often thank you for your work.

Those customers are the most likely to be brand advocates, so they are a great place to start. Give them some materials that they can use to promote your office and ask them to begin referring their friends and family to your practice.

You can gauge your program’s results and get feedback from these customers before you roll it out to everyone you serve. Your best patients can help you refine the plan so it’s as effective as possible.

Make Your Program Part of the Patient Process

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What’s the best way to benefit from a referral program? Make sure you implement it consistently!

If you forget to ask for referrals, you aren’t likely to get one. However, most people looking for a new dentist will ask their friends and family for ideas. Tap into that opportunity by making your referral program a built-in part of your patient relationship

Just like you have a specific process for a first patient, create a post-visit process
where you encourage patients to refer others and let them know the benefits they can get.

Make sure customers are on your email list and keep your list active with regular messages.

When you consistently ask every patient for referrals every time, you’ll dramatically increase the growth of your practice.

Just like you have a specific process for a first patient, create a post-visit process where you encourage patients to refer others and let them know the benefits they can get.

Take Advantage of Referral Marketing

91% of Americans are willing to share an exclusive offer with friends and family, and patients that are referred by others are more loyal than other customers. There’s no reason not to use a referral program to grow your dental practice.

When you make a referral program a consistent part of your relationship with your customers, you’ll benefit from their network. Word of mouth marketing is powerful and much more cost-effective than other types of outreach.

There’s no reason not to start — or improve — your referral program today!

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We would appreciate it greatly if you shared this article with your office and co-workers.

Let us know what kind of referral program, if any, that your practice uses below in the comments.

The Patient Experience
The Office

Focusing on the Patient Experience

As you have undoubtedly heard, going to the dentist is most people’s most hated experience. Close to 60% of people have anxiety about the experience, and for some, it’s a true phobia. It’s tough to let someone go into your mouth — which you rely on for eating and breathing — and poke around.

Are We That Scary?

Many times dental appointments are painful. And there’s always the risk of getting news that you need a significant procedure. Those procedures cost a lot of money and are often more painful than a routine cleaning.

As a result, people avoid the dentist, which doesn’t do their oral health any favors. What can you do to soothe people’s fears and give them a better experience at your clinic?

Here are some tips that will help.

Make Scheduling Simple

The first thing you can do is make sure that scheduling a dentist appointment is simple. If you haven’t updated your website to allow online scheduling, that’s a great start. The harder it is to schedule appointments, the more excuses people will make.

Your office staff probably already ask patients if they’d like to schedule their next appointment as they check out. This is another excellent way to overcome fear and get cleanings and care on the calendar.

Finally, make sure you follow up with reminders. Dental appointments happen infrequently — perhaps as rarely as twice a year — and it’s very easy to get busy and overlook the visit. Many people check their cell phone text messages even more often than email, so consider a text messaging reminder system.

Educate Patients About New Technology

Many people who avoid the dentist have memories from decades ago that involve a bad experience. Or, they may have heard horror stories from others. When you talk to patients about the latest technology and how it keeps them comfortable and pain-free, it can help them relax and enjoy their visit.

Make sure your marketing talks about the comfort of the modern dental office, about how patients can wear headphones, or even take advantage of sedation dentistry (if you offer it.) These reassurances not only help encourage appointments, they’ll make the actual patient experience much more pleasant.

Your messaging can also include the fact that regular dental appointments may help you avoid getting cavities or needing significant dental work. The more often someone attends to their dental health, the less likely it is that there will be substantial damage to repair.

Make Your Waiting Room Relaxing and Inviting

Everyone who visits your dental clinic will spend at least a few minutes in the waiting room. This space is one of the highest-impact areas for patient comfort and putting people at ease.

Are you a family dentist? Include a play area where kids can relax and enjoy simple toys. Do you serve mostly adults? Create comfortable seating in a serene environment. Chairs should not be hard or uncomfortable, and you want to avoid a sterile, “doctor’s office” feeling.

Many dental offices include magazines, and patients still read them. However, it may be even more useful to offer free WiFi. You can post the WiFi password prominently in the waiting area so patients can listen to music, go online, and more without using cellular data.

Consider Fun Rewards for Adults at the Dentist

You might think that the only patients who are interested in fun and encouraging stickers are children, but you’d be wrong. Although adults rarely admit it, many are delighted with the same simple, playful, and cheerful messages that kids are.

Stickers are so popular as an add-on to retail purchases that there’s a thriving resale market for them on eBay and other online sales sites. Customers even share their disappointment online if they don’t get their sticker sheet.

Why not jump on a trend? Give your adult patients the option of getting a fun and uplifting sticker after their appointment. You can even use a tongue-in-cheek reference to the act of going to the dentist by giving away #Adulting stickers.

You’ll be surprised how many delighted patients will accept a sticker and even share it on their social media accounts. It gives you great advertising, and you may find patients asking about a sticker when they schedule!

You Can Make Going to the Dentist a Fun Experience

There’s only so much you can do about the actual process of cleaning and repairing a person’s teeth, but there’s so much about the patient experience that you can impact otherwise.

Make it easy to schedule appointments and send text message reminders. Help patients understand that today’s technology means less pain and discomfort in the dentist’s chair. Encourage folks to relax in a high-quality waiting room with amenities that your clients enjoy.

And, don’t forget to have fun. Even adults enjoy whimsical and inexpensive rewards for their responsible behavior, from stickers to little toys to a piece of dark chocolate. When you reward your patients, they’ll be more likely to return.

With these tips, your dental clinic will be a place your patients feel comfortable, leading to more regular appointments, referrals, and an overall improvement in your business.

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