4 simple tips for building patient relationships
The very nature of dental care makes it difficult to naturally build personal relationships with your patients. Sitting in the dentist chair is definitely no trip to the spa!
How busy you are or how uncomfortable your patient may be makes it more necessary that you focus on building patient relationships outside of the clinical context.
Patients who like their dentist as a person are more likely to revisit. Here are a few tips to help make it happen.
1. Take advantage of the local anesthetic window
Use the time while you wait for an anesthetic to take effect, to make some small-talk. You can pick a topic for the day and roll with it. Ask if the patient saw the big game or if they’ve got plans for an upcoming holiday. It doesn’t matter if they’re interested in the topic or not. It’s simply a cue that it’s OK to talk about something other than their treatment.
2. Highlight the roadmap
While you don’t need to provide a detailed explanation of every step of the procedure, do take a moment every few minutes to tell the patient what you will be doing next. Patients dislike being left in the dark and a change in sensation can leave them wondering what’s happening, and if they’re supposed to feel that way. A quick heads up before you turn on a noisy machine can really help allay anxiety.
3. Talk about something funny
Sharing a universal experience is a great way to break down barriers. If you want your patients to see you as a regular person, tell them something they can relate to. It doesn’t have to be a story fit for stand-up comedy. It could be something silly your child or pet did, or how you had to call AAA because you got your car stuck in the snow. Many patients are counting down the seconds until they’re free to go. Even if your story isn’t very good, it’s a welcome distraction.
4. Remember something about every patient
It’s hard to recall the personal details of every patient that sits in your chair but remembering something, even it it’s small, can go a long way. Ask about their kid’s soccer tournament or note that they’ve changed their hair color. Anything that shows you care is great!