Why Dentists Overrate Patient Satisfaction

July 28, 2016    By Becky Sheetz ()

Why Dentists Overrate Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is an old-fashioned and overrated concept.

That’s because, today, successful dentists can’t afford to simply satisfy their patients. They must continually work to build patient loyalty. Think of them as raving fans, as authors Kenneth Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles put it in their book by the same title.

Again and again, marketing retention studies demonstrate the primacy of loyalty. They show that satisfied customers are three or more times as likely to switch to other providers and brands than are loyal customers.

Just who is a loyal patient?

A loyal dental patient has confidence in his or her dentist and trusts the team—and for good reason. Loyal patients take their treatments seriously and keep to a regular schedule. They’re also often eager to recommend their dentist to others. To create relationships that stand the test of time, see Replicate Your Ideal Patients.

If you are losing patients or not retaining new ones, here are three things you can do to promote loyalty:

1. Stay top-of-mind

You must communicate with your patients on an ongoing basis. How else will you keep them apprised of all the treatments you offer, changes in your insurance acceptance policy and more between visits to your office?

By sending newsletters to your patients, you maintain contact with them on at least a monthly basis. You can certainly post to social media and communicate in other ways. But a monthly newsletter is the standard for staying top-of-mind in a professional manner for all proactive, patient loyalty-minded practices.

2. Survey your patients

How do you know if your patients are loyal? Your schedule each day will tell the story. You will be able to determine if your patient load is lighter. You should also be able to track and measure whether your patients are coming in less frequently and for fewer treatments and services. You may discover too many satisfied patients who have been wooed away by another practice’s special promotions or discounted treatments.

To get essential data, you can administer a patient survey, either immediately after treatment or on an ongoing basis. Patients will be more candid with an anonymous survey than they will be in sharing feedback with your staff. You will learn a great deal about concerns your patients may have that will keep them from being loyal. And, importantly, you’ll learn which attributes of your practice that patients value most.

3. Mobilize your most loyal patients

How can you use your most loyal patients to your advantage? Savvy dentists leverage them to influence others and help grow their practices. They create raving fans by encouraging online reviews and testimonials that they then share on their Web sites, social media—and in their patient newsletters.

Be sure you provide ample opportunity to mobilize these loyal patients!

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