Dental Diaries: A follow-up phone call

2012 04 16 15 06 39 236 Doniger 08 70

One of the main reasons for a patient's fear of the dentist is that they don't know what is going on. During treatment, we talk with the patients about what we are doing, as well as chat about other things to keep them thinking of other things.

At the conclusion of the treatment, we discuss potential issues, such as expected length of anesthetic duration and soreness. At the business end of the appointment, the conversation always goes to the treatment of the day and reviews the postoperative instructions. We let the patients know we will be calling them for a follow-up.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

Our next treatment day, we contact every operative patient. We attempt to establish a personal connection with each of them to see if they have any questions about the care they received or any future dental needs.

For the most part, as with recare or appointment confirmations, personally reaching patients is almost impossible. We send emails and texts and leave voice mails (depending on their preference), and most go unanswered. This is a good thing. If we receive a call back, there usually is an issue. Rarely is a patient available during the time we place our calls (usually after confirming recare appointments), but they are very appreciative of the time we take to contact them. At our end-of-the-day staff meeting, the phone call responses are discussed.

This is a powerful partnership with our patients. In our office, they expect excellent customer service. Following up with individual phone calls is going just the extra step. If patients have any questions or concerns, I will take a moment to contact them at my earliest point during the day. If I am available, I will make the postoperative phone calls. Again, it tells the patient "we care about you."

This is such a simple thing to do and it goes a long way to separate you from another practice. In this changing economy, the little things we do to establish relationships with our patients will pay it forward to new growth for our practices.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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

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