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Optimising your patient communications

patient communicationsThis article is sponsored content brought to you by Software of Excellence.

It wasn’t all that long ago that dental practices interacted with their patients in one of three ways—either face-to-face in the practice, over the phone or by letter. Communication was very straightforward, linear and significantly slower.

When it came to marketing, the choices were simple too. Raising awareness of your practice was done mainly through print advertising, local paper ads, door drops, direct mail or maybe, for the more adventurous, a local radio advertisement. The conversation generally went one way—from practice to patient—and practices had almost complete control of their ‘brand’ and reputation. How things have changed…

A communications revolution!

In the past two to three decades, what could be regarded as a social revolution has taken place in the way in which we interact with one another and in particular how businesses of all kinds interact with their customers. Communication is now undoubtedly two-way, a conversation between customer and business where the customer is still always right and they are a lot more vocal about it!

The landscape has also become a lot more crowded with many different channels via which customers can engage with businesses and through which they must take care to be giving the right messages. Consumers have become more powerful and demanding, and businesses are having to work hard to provide the customer journey that is now expected.

Multiple touchpoints to satisfy all your patients

Dental practices are having to respond to this change in customer behaviour too and this has precipitated a modification in certain behaviours. 

Patients now want to interact with their dental practice through a range of touchpoints, including websites, mobile apps, adverts, social media, ratings, reviews and marketing, and the profession needs to be alert to this new wave of communication channels and use the various touchpoints it has with patients to improve service and make the customer experience exemplary.

A key to achieving this is having integrated processes that use tools and applications that assist in collecting and storing data, and automatically send out targeted communications as well as regular recalls and reminders.

An informative and responsive website with online booking

Patients expect to do more and have more interaction online and, for the majority, this is done on a mobile device. It is therefore essential that practices have a strong online presence, including a high Google ranking in order to be found in an online search. 

An informative, responsive website (one which adjusts automatically to be viewed on any size screen), with an online booking facility so patients can go seamlessly from finding your practice through to booking an appointment is also a must.

A good online rating and lots of positive reviews

The power of online reviews continues to grow and the importance of having a good rating and a high number of positive reviews on Google and on social media should not be underestimated. The best positive reviews are informative and give a good level of detail on the reviewer’s experience. Actually asking patients for feedback and having an automated system which ensures positive reviews are quickly and efficiently distributed is key to optimising this important marketing channel. Celebrating good reviews and responding professionally and quickly to less positive ones show patients that you care.

Targeted and timely patient communications

Once a patient has made contact, it’s important to keep them informed and to send helpful information and reminders to support their experience. Reminders should be sent before appointments and automated recalls make sure patients keep returning, ensuring that white space is minimised and allow the front desk team to concentrate on looking after the patients in the practice at that time.

Marketing

There are now multiple channels for advertising and marketing and it’s important to think about your target market before starting a campaign. ‘Campaign’ can be quite a big concept but if managed well, targeted correctly, and results monitored, it can provide a clear focus for the practice team and return excellent results.

There’s a lot to think about when considering patient interaction but the good news is that by using these automated processes, practices can ensure they have the necessary touchpoints to ensure new and existing patients are communicated with effectively, creating value for patients, and managing the customer relationships which ultimately drive revenue. ≤

Talk to an expert about how to implement best practice patient communications at your practice. Call Software of Excellence on 1300 889 668 (opt 1) or email sales@softwareofexcellence.com 

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