Don’t ignore the patient experience

Owning a dental practice where patients rave about the experience can be a big boost for business.

As silly as it might sound, patients are just as likely to recommend your office because of super-fast Wi-Fi and tasty coffee as they are to mention chairside CAD or your new CO2 laser.

Ignoring these seemingly details can be a mistake.

Perception trumps reality

It’s only natural that patients expect every health care facility they visit to be clean, modern and above all else, sterile and safe–but some dentists fail to recognize that patients judge their office by other standards too.

Even when your sterilization and disinfection protocols are on point, first impressions from the waiting room can create the illusion of disrepair. Chipped paint, a burned out light bulb or an overflowing wastepaper basket can start a patient wondering about the practice as a whole.

Nip perceptions in the bud

Avoiding misunderstandings regarding the upkeep of your practice is as simple as periodically looking at your facilities from the patient’s point of view.

Sit in the waiting room and look for small imperfections such as rips in chair upholstery, cracked outlet covers or wobbly end tables. Then do the same from the operatory chair. How else will you discover that there is a stain or crack in the ceiling? Train your staff to do the same.

Don’t write-off complaints

Discounting patient complaints is an easy trap to fall into–particularly when objections arise that are unrelated to the quality of care.

But in an industry that relies heavily on loyalty and referrals for growth, taking the time to listen carefully to patient complaints is key. For every “squeaky wheel” patient that complains, there may be 10 more who were also put off by the problem but do not voice their concern.

See complaints as a real gift. An opportunity to uncover areas of improvement in systems you thought were OK.

There may be many dentists in your area who are experts at filling cavities and pulling teeth. Differentiate your practice by focusing on the patient experience.