4 tips for enhancing communication with your patients

2016 03 01 12 14 12 588 Thompson Precious 200

The way dental professionals communicate with patients is rapidly changing. Instead of handling patients only during office hours, dentists now are faced with around-the-clock communication. Patients expect stronger forms of communication, and they want the information to be convenient and accessible for them. This could mean communicating through email, social media, or other electronic means.

Enhancing your communication with your patients could mean adding new technology to your practice, or it could be as simple as reforming some of your existing policies. You could change your social media strategy to be more effective, or you could offer information to patients in innovative ways. Below are four ideas for enhancing your patient communications.

1. Creative welcome letters and packets

Precious Thompson, DDS.Precious Thompson, DDS.

Patients should feel welcomed to your business the moment they schedule an appointment, whether that is online, in person, or over the phone. Creative welcome letters and emails can help you establish that initial communication with them in a positive, productive way. Welcome letters and packets can provide valuable information patients need to know when visiting your practice.

These packets could include the time and date of the appointment, directions, parking information, and any necessary forms they need to fill out before the visit (which will save everyone time). Additionally, these letters can be a positive way to introduce yourself, your commitment to providing the best possible care for patients, and what sets you apart from competitors. This is a simple introduction that can go a long way with building the rapport you want with your patients.

2. Monthly email newsletters

One of the easiest ways to stay in touch with patients is by sending a monthly e-newsletter. To some, this could seem like a time-consuming task with little effect. However, according to Forrester Research, about 1 in 5 consumers read every email newsletter they receive. Newsletters could be a way to keep patients up to date on business news, new online tools for patients, dental health information and tips, patient testimonials, or other changes in your practice. It's a cost-effective way of keeping in touch while reminding them you appreciate their business.

“To truly build patient relationships, the newsletters also should include ways for patients to interact or engage with your business.”

To truly build patient relationships, the newsletters also should include ways for patients to interact or engage with your business, rather than just having the email as a one-sided form of communication. The newsletter could include links to more information on a company website, interactive polls, videos, or links where they can provide feedback, all of which can make the newsletter a better communication tool.

Email also can be used to remind patients of scheduled appointments, follow up about their previous experiences at your practice, and let them know it may be time to schedule another appointment for routine care. This likely could be the best way to contact patients considering 72% of adults in a MarketingSherpa survey said they prefer communication with companies to happen through email.

3. Stronger social media interactions

Dental professionals often use social media to promote their practice. Although it can work well as a marketing tool, it can work even better as an avenue to have valuable patient and practice communication. How you present your business and the things you post on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest can make a significant difference in the way you communicate with patients and those who have the potential to become patients.

Positive social media interactions require dentists to post valuable content and to post often. The content can vary depending on the practice, but people generally like to see shareable information that can benefit them. This alone can spark a positive conversation, but asking your followers questions and posting events, giveaways, and special offers can get them more involved.

One of the most effective ways to get user engagement on Facebook is to post photos. According to Social Bakers, 87% of a Facebook page's interactions happen on photo posts. No other content type receives more than 4% of interactions. Tweets with photos also get almost half of all engagement, but they are in the minority of published content, according to Social Bakers.

4. Make communication a priority

For the most effective communication, your entire office staff should be on the same page. Everyone in the office should be courteous, kind, and eager to talk to patients. No patient wants to feel ignored, and they definitely do not want to feel rushed when in your office. Having all employees provide the same level of attention and the same desire to communicate productively leaves patients feeling appreciated and respected.

The best way to accomplish this is for you to communicate with your staff effectively. Keep them informed throughout each step of the process, from the moment the patient walks in the door to the moment they leave. This can help to prevent any mishaps or misunderstandings with the patient and can ensure all information given to the patient is consistent. It can also effectively make their visit shorter and more efficient, giving them a more positive outlook on your business and employees.

Success of your practice

Keeping a strong and positive relationship with your patients is critical to the success of your dental practice. You need to keep people coming through your doors, and you need to keep them wanting to tell others about your business. To do that, you need to establish forms of communications that work for both parties involved. Providing online outlets to get users involved is one way to enhance your communication, but at the end of the day, the most effective communication is consistent information and skilled listening.

Precious Thompson, DDS, is a board-certified dentist who provides comprehensive general and cosmetic dentistry and is the founder of Thousand Oaks Dental practice in San Antonio. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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