With the popularity of orthodontics growing following lockdown, Arnold Gangaidzo explains how to keep your patients happy.
Patients want their orthodontic experience to be clear, exciting and personal.
Once a patient feels valued, they will trust you as their clinician. And in some cases reward you with reviews and referrals.
In the same week of writing this article, I saw a lady to review her orthodontic treatment. She was eager to tell me about the positive responses she received from her family and friends in Portugal. She says this was ‘one of the best decisions’ she had made.
The time and investment into her smile was worth it and she was clearly delighted.
Delighting patients is key in order to develop a growing list of orthodontic patients. Here are some ways I find useful to delight my patients.
1. Speak their language
Building rapport begins with listening to what the patient wants instead of trying to sell to them.
They choose to sacrifice their time to speak with a dentist. We know how the public is sometimes fearful of dental visits.
Attending for a consultation is a strong sign of intent from the patient. We should not take it for granted.
It is easy to jump into the features of your orthodontic system and completely miss the mark in addressing what the patient is truly concerned about.
I am reminded of a lady who attended wanting straighter teeth and a solution for her ‘fang teeth’.
I could focus the consultation explaining the benefits of resolving her malocclusion and go through costs. But until I address the ‘fang teeth’, any solution I provide won’t satisfy her.
Therefore I temporarily placed some composite on her ‘fang teeth’ to show how we can modify the shape of the teeth.
As a result of this, she agreed to a treatment plan consisting of aligners and composite bonding. She is happy with her treatment, also deciding to refer her boyfriend for orthodontic treatment. They both left five-star Facebook reviews on the practice profile.
Delight your patients by actively listening. Avoid dental jargon and use the patient’s own words to provide them with solutions to their chief complaints.
2. Show your patients the progress they make
Whether you use fixed braces or aligners, it is important to keep your patients motivated. Show them how their teeth are getting straighter.
You can show patients with fixed braces their initial study model. With a mirror at hand you can go through their progress.
You can show patients using aligners their outcome simulation and how it matches their current stage of treatment.
Delight your patients by highlighting their progress at each review appointment. This will consequently keep them excited throughout their orthodontic journey.
3. Serve them even when it becomes inconvenient
As I am writing this, it is my day off. This morning I agreed to go into the practice to squeeze in a patient who is approaching the end of her orthodontic treatment. The next available appointment for her is a five-week wait.
By valuing this patient throughout her treatment, she decided to refer her friend to have orthodontic treatment with me.
Another patient was on her final aligner. She somehow managed to drop it on her driveway. She even drove over the aligner. We ordered a replacement without charging a fee. It turns out she needed further aligners to finish her treatment.
Because we have built up a level of goodwill, she still trusts in my ability to achieve her desired result.
Delight your patients by prioritising them when they need you. Avoid surprise charges where you are able to do so.
4. Send them off with confidence
Providing retainers is never the end of the relationship with your orthodontic patients.
As clinicians, we should commit to ensuring the longevity of the treatment we provide. This also requires clear advice from the dentist and compliance from the patient.
The patient should feel confident enough to contact you if issues arise. And they should also feel reassured that you will be available.
Simply acknowledging that their orthodontic result is stable at routine appointments will therefore let them know that you are continuing to monitor their result.
Delight your patients by showing them that you still care, long after the removal of braces or aligners.
In return they will delight you with reviews, referrals and a growing list of orthodontic patients.
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