New dental patient expectations are set earlier than you think
It used to be that the new dental patient experience started with the first call to the office.
That has changed.
Even though the initial phone call is the first two-way communication between the new patient and the dental office, the expectations for that conversation are set well before that.
Today, in the age of information and all things internet, people have unrestricted access to all sorts of information about you, your team, and how you conduct your business. Now, they are “contacting” you without you even realizing it.
“We’re in great error in thinking that the phone call is where today’s patient makes their first contact. The first contact will almost always be through the internet,” says dentistry image expert Janice Hurley. “They’re going to look at your dental website and make all kinds of decisions.”
Laci Phillips, co-founder of Practice Dynamics, agrees.
“If we think about it from a consumer standpoint, if I need a service or I want to purchase something that is important to me, I’m going to Google it, and then I’m going to look at reviews and stars, I’m going to look at responses, I’m going to go to a website,” says Phillips. “We know that ‘meet the team’ is one of the most visited pages on a dental website, so they are checking out who they are going to be dealing with. They’re going to look at social media to see if you are, in fact, social. And THEN maybe they finally pick up the phone.”
That investigating that new patients do forms their first impression of your practice, and establishes the expectations they will have when they actually contact you for that first appointment.
“Human nature is that they want to be right about their judgment, so they’re going to filter their first interaction with you through their first impression,” says Hurley.
When your marketing — including your website, social media, and advertising — sets the expectations for what new dental patients believe about your business, there is a risk of over-hyped marketing setting that bar too high. A mismatch between a new patient’s first impression and the actual experience can be challenging to overcome. That’s why dental consultant Lois Banta strongly believes that proper marketing is essential.
“The patient’s perception of truth about your office is going to be their truth until you prove otherwise,” explains Banta. “So I am a firm believer in making sure the marketing messages are consistent throughout, however that message is delivered.”
Staying true to who you are and why you do what you do is always the best approach when it comes to marketing to your new dental patients. That kind of honest self-promotion also pays off in terms of word of mouth advertising.
“You have to start thinking about the purest marketing, the patient referral,” explains dental practice consultant Penny Reed. “That comes from your brand identity and who you are. Not who you aspire to be, but who you actually are, what you’re doing, and how clearly that message is conveyed online. In other words, how easy is it for new patients to understand who you are, what you do, and I think the real bonus is if you can get them to like you before they even call.”
Improve the rest of the new dental patient experience
Making a solid first impression and setting the right expectations is just one piece of improving the new dental patient experience. If you want to wow your new patients and keep them coming back for more, get our free guide, The Ultimate Guide to Improving the New Dental Patient Experience. It’s packed with tips and tricks from some of the dental industry’s top consultants. Get your copy today!