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A Guide to Building Trust with Dental Patients

The General Dental Council (GDC) published the results of a Patient and Public Survey conducted in early 2018, demonstrating that people are more satisfied than ever before with dental care in the UK.

This validates the hard work that industry professionals have invested in building patient trust in the dental services provided by dental practices throughout the country. A lot of energy and resources have been spent in marketing the safe and trustworthy dental treatments dentists provide to patients.

Primary dentistry is an almost £6 billion business. It takes hard work for owners of dental practices to successfully earn a percentage of this over a billion-pound enterprise.

Just because the potential for earnings is there, it doesn’t mean you will succeed. As with any business, you must prepare to meet the challenge.

It doesn’t’ take many negative reviews by patients to adversely affect your practice, resulting in other current and potential patients losing confidence in your business.

The challenge is how to nurture confidence and minimise negative experiences.

Seventy percent of customers decide to buy using only information gleaned online. Sites encourage feedback, good and bad.

Hence, your marketing plan must take this into consideration.

Trust means something different depending on the individual. Some patients might consider low staff turnover to be important, others might think your CQC inspection results are more important, or perhaps they might find the pastoral care from the dental staff reassuring before putting their trust in you.

What is critical, however, is visibly demonstrating quality dentistry. In making the quality of your dentistry evident, as well as a demonstrable assurance of individual care with attentiveness to each patient by all the healthcare professionals that work in your practice.

Regular Reviews

To maintain and improve your quality of care, you must conduct regular reviews. Dental care requires some individualisation both in treatment and in how you deal with the patient. Train your staff to report possible concerns expressed directly or indirectly by a patient so that you can proactively address any problems. This should be an integral part of day-to-day work for staff members.
The GDC expects, of course, that you address complaints appropriately. However, this is also a crucial skill for every staff member to acquire, from the receptionist to the clinicians. It would be wise for practices to create scripts designed to assist team members in dealing with customer interactions that are difficult to navigate.

Your staff can more effectively focus on and respond to complaints if you provide and practice with prepared scripts.  This will encourage team members to resolve issues quickly, or even prevent escalation of complaints.

This approach also assists with developing your brand. The staff will be more confident. Selling products and services, marketing treatments, and clearly explaining policies and costs will become second nature and help better promote your brand.

The better you communicate with your patients, the less chance of erring. Keep the means of communication open among everyone: between patients and staff and among your team members.

No two patients are exactly alike. Each comes to your office with different expectations, priorities, and principles. Your job is to meet these needs while at the same time marketing your own brand and customising an approach to take when marketing your practice to potential patients.

Feedback is crucial. Use feedback to help you not only maintain your core values but also use it as a catalyst for change. Don’t react to feedback emotionally. Always be ready to alter policies and your branding to fit an ever-changing and progressively shrewd client base. Here, as with many areas of dentistry, communication is the key to success.

Eight ways to earn dental patients’ trust:

  1. All staff members must conform to GDC Standards. By not deviating from these principles, you enhance and confirm your commitment to the UK standards for dentistry. This will not only help maintain the quality of your services and treatments, but also validate your practice to existing and potential patients. Ensure your dental website design is up to date and compliant.
  2. Provide plenty of written information and have audiovisual information playing on screens in your patient waiting room. Make use of online and in-house platforms – from patient leaflets to regular social media posts to a trouble-free and appealing website – offering regular updates on the practice and procedures information. This helps to educate your patients and helps you to communicate with them more effectively.
  3. Regularly meet with your staff. Due to the many temporary or part-time help in dentistry, meeting regularly is the only way you can ensure everyone participates. You can use these sessions as a platform to discuss how to achieve your practice’s goals and objectives as well as a form for generating new marketing ideas that communicate your principles.
  4. Re-examine everyday situations to seek methods of refining the safety of patient treatments. Solicit feedback from your staff and encourage them to share their feelings. This can provide useful data to help reinforce updated business policies.
  5. Join the BDA Good Practice quality assurance programme. This will aid you in communicating a message to your patients that you have committed to constantly evaluating and improving the professional and legal responsibilities associated with dentistry.
  6. Urge every staff member to exceed the minimum requirements established by the CPD. Encourage them not only to continue their education in within whatever is his or her speciality happens to be, but to take course, attend seminars, or read up on dentistry topics not directed related to what they do.
  7. Regularly schedule office training sessions. Use these meetings to discuss new technology, industry best practices, and other information related to professional development. Remind your staff that to survive and thrive, you must adapt. A lunchtime session is a fun way to bring every staff member together. Mix it up! You can have dental suppliers, outside agencies, or a team member lead the seminar.
  8. Don’t be afraid to toot your accomplishments! Proudly advertise your brand using Dental Marketing. From positive feedback, both in-house and online (from social media and your website), urge new and existing patients to have faith in you, your team and your practice.

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