9 Reasons Your Dental Practice is Losing Patients

Have you ever had a dental patient not book an appointment with you, even after calling your dental practice? Chances are, the answer is a big “YES.”  While this situation isn’t ideal, there is always an opportunity to learn from the patients who did not convert, in order to ensure we don’t repeat the same again.

Based on our dental industry expertise and experience working with dental practice companies, below are the top 10 common reasons why patients do not book an appointment even after learning about your practice from various sources like Google Ads, Facebook, Referral/Word of Mouth etc. 

  • Missed calls. For most, if not all dental practices, call volume is the primary and the number one reason a practice misses gaining a new patient. Because we live in an era where people want instant gratification and more or less dental needs are immediate if its a new customer, if you’re taking longer than an hour to return a phone call, you have missed the bus. You can only hope to nurture that patient and bring them back at a later stage, which is extremely difficult and takes the cost of acquisition high.
    So how do you solve the problem of missed calls?
    Invest in a solution that helps you engage with customers when you are unavailable to. Ensure the engagement happens on phone and not on a website chatbot/facebook chatbot. Reason: When a customer calls you, they are using their phone, sending them to a third party channel is not beneficial. Use the opportunity to convert them on the phone itself. Take a look at the example below:

Assigning a staff is not the best idea because that comes at a cost and again results in higher cost of acquisition. Its best to let a software handle repetitive tasks at 1/5th the cost of a staff member. Learn more about Emitrr here.

  • Appointment slots unavailability. It is not possible to cater to all patients at all times and we know that but how do we deal with this situation? The best way to do this is by leaving a great impression with your new dental patient. Even if the best appointment time slots are booked, patients will find a way to adjust their schedule to fit yours if they feel the service they will get from your dental practice is superior and also if their prior experience with other dental practice has not been great. This is a perfect opportunity to shine. So how do you deal with appointment slots being unavailable? – Train your receptionist/front desk staff on consultative selling, if patients express frustration on not being able to find the slot of their choice. This is a good way to discover if a lot of patients are looking for later appointment times that are consistently unavailable, and relooking at your schedule in order to ensure you dont miss the important patients. 
  • Calls are dropped. With the use of cell phones and bad network, this happens all the time. We’ve all experienced calls getting dropped in both personal and professional environments. While this is not ideal and can drive patients away from your dental practice, there is always a way to handle such situations. Take a look below.
    How to attend to calls being dropped: Compare a call from a new patient with a new website visit. Just the way we try to capture all information early in the journey either through a chatbot or a form fill, similarly early in the call, ask the caller for their information like their name, call-back number, and email address (make sure to write this information down in your system). This way, if the call does drop, your staff can instantly provide great customer service and immediately call them back to keep the conversation going or you can automatically send a follow up conversational SMS to drive engagement and close the lead without human involvement.
  • Patients drop off on hold: Consumers/Patients have very little to no patience as they are constantly on the go. Not just that, they know they have multiple options and waiting on hold is not the best option. How to conquer the problem of hold: While there are a ton of recommendations out there with respect to being put on hold, for example: calling customers back immediately, having on hold music in place etc. Honestly, none of these help. The only thing that helps is to talk to the customer immediately and does not necessarily have to be a human being. You just need to attend to the customer through some medium. As highlighted in point 1, Invest in a solution that helps you engage with customers when you are unavailable to. Ensure the engagement happens on phone and not on a website chatbot/facebook chatbot. Learn more here. See video below:
  • Medicaid acceptance. While most dental practices do not participate with Medicaid, it is still important to make a good impression on the patient and understand what services they are seeking.
    How to build a good relationship even if you dont accept Medicaid:
    Create a list of dental practices that accept Medicaid, and share this information with the patient. By doing so, you’ll be sure to win more referrals and leave a great first impression of your dental practice. Remember, they may not be on Medicaid forever and they may have friends, family and coworkers that are looking for a new dental practice.
  • You’re out of network. Many insurance policies offer similar benefits both in and outside of network. Learn which plans work well in your office and let callers know that you have many patients with their insurance that are very happy in your practice. If there is a sudden jump in the number of leads (potential patients) lost because your practice is out-of-network, you may want to investigate which employers are offering these benefits so you can evaluate further.
    Ask patients what type of services they are interested in to see if the services they want are covered by their insurance.
  • They don’t feel a connection—If you want to create loyal/returning patients who trust your treatment recommendations without thinking about a second opinion, you have to connect with them at a personal level and not just professionally. Patients want to know you care about them and have their best interest at heart. If they don’t think you do, not only will they not go forward with recommended treatment, they’ll start looking for a new practice to call their dental home. Recommendation: Instead of rushing in and out of treatment rooms, slow down and take the time to get to know patients, genuinely try and learn about them. In short, build a human connect. Ask them about their families and jobs. Talk with them about their oral health goals and address their concerns. Simply put, make them feel comfortable. 
  • They don’t understand the value of dentistry—While it may work with some patients, you can’t just tell patients they need a crown, a root canal and expect them to blindly follow your recommendation. You have to educate them about their condition, what could have possibly lead to it, how they can control it and make sure they understand the possible consequences of ignoring it. Recommendation: Use intraoral cameras and hand mirrors to show them exactly what’s going on in their mouths. Show them educational videos and give them brochures about the procedure, then answer any questions they have. Start looking at every patient interaction as an opportunity to educate, and you’ll soon see your case acceptance numbers rise.
  • You dont follow up— Very rarely will patients accept a treatment right away, unless they are in terrible pain. They want to take the time to think about their options and talk everything over with their trusted one. Patients aren’t going to call to schedule treatment on their own. You have to follow up and show you are concerned and worried about their oral health. Recommendation: Train your treatment coordinator to schedule follow-up calls with patients before they leave. If that isn’t possible, your coordinator should follow up with patients in two days, armed with a script and important details from the initial presentation.

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