Legendary film producer Samuel Goldwyn once famously said that he’d take 50 percent efficiency to gain 100 percent loyalty.
While I highly doubt he was talking about dental practices, the sentiment applies to our industry in a big way. Patient loyalty is essential to dental practice success.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “My patients are loyal to me.” But the truth is, while the majority of your patients may be satisfied with you as their dentist, that doesn’t mean they’re loyal.
There’s an important difference between a satisfied and a loyal patient. A satisfied patient will leave you as soon as you stop taking their insurance or they move to a nearby town. A loyal patient, on the other hand, will do whatever they can to stay with your practice for as long as possible, regardless of whether its convenient for them or not. Here’s the definition of a patient who is truly loyal:
1. They are consistent on recall and receptive to treatment.
2. They would never see another dentist.
3. They refer others to your office.
So how do you make this happen? There’s actually a simple rule of thumb to follow: You’re never going to inspire loyalty by doing what every other dentist is doing. You need to provide the unexpected.
Provide the sort of experiences that your patients can’t get from any other dental practice. Call your new patients before their first appointment to welcome them to the practice. Call them after a major treatment to see how they’re doing. If someone refers a new patient to you, send them a handwritten thank you note. Perhaps most importantly, have fun with them while they’re in the office. Obviously, you want to stay professional, but don’t be afraid to joke a bit with them to lighten the mood. If you’re having a conversation with an assistant or an associate while you’re working on a patient – involve the patient! Give him or her a chance to join in the discussion. Yes, it may mean that patient spends a little longer in your chair, but if you want to build loyalty, that’s okay. If you work to create a comfortable, enjoyable atmosphere while building a relationship with your patients, they’ll stop feeling like customers visiting a business and begin to feel like they’re visiting family.
In short, if you want to know how to ensure your patients will remain loyal to your practice, just think about your most loyal friends. What created that loyalty in your relationship? It’s almost always because you’ve shared memorable, remarkable experiences together and you can’t imagine sharing those kinds of experiences with anyone else. That’s exactly what you want from your patients.