It has happened in every office, you do a perfect treatment presentation, the patient seems on board and yet the patient leaves the office without booking an appointment. You wonder what went wrong and try to find the weak link in your system. How can you set your office up for success and eliminate these scenarios? The answer is clear and consistent communication to ensure that you aren’t ending up with incomplete treatment plans in your office.
The following are areas where we often see problems in communication that can cause a disconnect with patients booking treatment:
- Although you have presented treatment plans many times over and over, this may be the first time a patient has heard this information. Don’t rush your words, slow down, watch the patient’s body language and eyes and make sure they are engaged in your presentation. Do a check-in with them part way through and ask if this makes sense to them and do they have any questions. We all learn and take in information at different speeds, mirror your presentation to your patient’s level of comprehension.
- Most patients need to hear something more than once before they agree to treatment. There is a marketing rule that states that someone needs to hear something seven times before they act on it. This does NOT mean that a patient hears about a crown at seven hygiene appointments before they agree, it means that you make the effort for the patient to hear about the crown seven times in ONE appointment. How do you make this happen? At the huddle to prepare for the day there would hopefully be discussion about a large restoration for the patient. During the hygiene appointment the hygienist has the opportunity to educate the patient about a crown during scaling time, when the dentist comes in to do their recall exam they would then speak with the patient about the crown, after the dentist leaves the room, the hygienist would then ask the patient if they had any questions. When the hygienist escorts the patient to the front desk and hands off to the treatment coordinator or administrator the crown would be mentioned again. The administrator would then discuss the details of financials with the patient about the crown, repeating the benefits of proceeding and the consequences of not proceeding in the same language as the dentist and hygienist. If the patient does not book at this point, then a follow up conversation would occur a short time afterward.
- No matter the size or scope of the treatment plan there should always be an email sent or a paper estimate provided to the patient to ensure that there are no misunderstandings during treatment. If possible, email a video of the dentist describing the treatment (this is well worth the fee involved for the videographer) this allows the patient to review the treatment in an environment where they are relaxed. If the patient doesn’t book the appointment prior to departing the office, ensure that you have treatment follow up in a timely manner by your administrator, once again using the same verbiage.
By employing these communication techniques consistently in your office, you should be achieving at least 75% treatment acceptance in your office the first-time treatment has been presented. As always ensure that this metric is measured in a meaningful way and don’t go just by a gut feeling. You will be surprised that your gut isn’t usually accurate.