Getting new patients is a challenge. But so is keeping them.
On average, dental practices are successful at retaining new dental patients less than half the time. According to information published by the Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA), the typical general dentist keeps only 41 percent of new patients beyond their first appointment.
Why don’t those patients come back? The only way to really find out is to ask what they thought of their experience at your office. And the best way to do that is through a dental patient survey.
Why should you use dental patient surveys?
Even if you think you’re doing everything right and your patients are happy, there are obviously reasons that keep them from returning. There is always going to be some amount of patient turnover based on unavoidable reasons like people moving, changing insurance coverage, needing services beyond what you offer, and, yes, even dying.
But when the reason is something that’s under your control, you have an opportunity to increase your retention rate. And keeping patients is far less expensive than trying to attract new ones to replace those who have moved on.
What should you ask on a dental patient survey?
The main thing to consider when creating a dental patient survey is that you want to get back actionable information. Questions should be specific enough to determine what improvements you need to make, in what departments, for what types of procedures, and for which types of patients. Your questions can start out broad, like “How would you rate your experience?” but you should gradually dig deeper to get a clear picture of what went right, or wrong, during their visit.
How do you get more new patients to complete a survey?
Of course, surveys won’t do you any good if patients don’t fill them out. Surveys that seem complicated or time-consuming can deter patients from investing the effort into sharing their opinions. To counter that, follow some simple steps to make your survey as easy to complete as possible.
Use online surveys
You can hand a printed survey to your patients (or mail it to them), but people will find it much more convenient to complete a survey online with a matter of clicks, rather than hunting down a pen or pencil. If you do create an online survey, make sure it is mobile-friendly, since that is where most of your patients will end up filling it out. Your patient management software may have automatic surveys built in. If not, there are plenty of third-party survey platforms like Survey Monkey or SurveyPlanet. Your web developer can also build a custom survey form for you within your existing website.
Limit the use of open-ended questions
Once people start filling out a survey, you don’t want anything to slow down their momentum. They can breeze through yes/no or multiple choice questions quickly, but if you throw open-ended questions at them, they are forced to stop and think about how to word their response. Those types of questions certainly do provide value, but try to make them optional for those people who would prefer to skip them and keep moving. And don’t worry, if they have a strong opinion about something, they will find the words to let you know.
Don’t ask more than you need to
The biggest turn-off for survey participants is an excessively long survey that feels more like a final exam. Try to limit the amount of questions you ask, preferably keeping your survey to a single page. Even if your survey is somewhat lengthy, good graphic design can help the survey look less daunting and more inviting visually.
Your patients may not have sufficient time (or motivation) to fill out your survey when they initially receive it. If they set it aside and forget about it, don’t be shy about reminding them how important their opinion is.
Need a dental patient survey? Use ours!
Feel free to download our FREE Dental Patient Survey template and use it as your own. Use the PDF or copy and paste the questions into your own online survey. (We don’t mind at all.)