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.
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: