Happy Atmosphere, Happy Patients: 8 Tips on Creating a Comfortable Dental Practice

The rate of new patient retention for dental offices is 41%. That means for every ten new patients you see, six of them will move on to another dentist the next time they’re seeking care.

You may be a health professional but you’re also a small business owner. Losing 60% of your new patients just isn’t an option. That’s why you need happy patients.

Yet, each patient is so different, you’ll never be able to please them all… right? That’s where you’d be wrong because, today, we’re bringing you a list of the top 8 things you can do to boost your office’s patient retention rate. It all starts with creating the perfect waiting room atmosphere.

Are you ready to find out what you can do to reduce no-shows, make waiting times seem shorter, and eliminate the need for collections? Then check out this article for the top tips for better dental patient experience. 

1. Send a Patient Reminder

The dental patient experience begins long before they sit in your chair or even walk into the lobby. That’s why so many dentists are taking advantage of appointment reminders. After all, the healthcare industry loses more than $150 billion per year due to no-shows. 

Stop losing revenue: make patients happier with a reminder 24 hours before the scheduled appointment. Patients will feel more in control of their dental appointment and thank you by remaining a loyal customer. 

2. Wait Times

Long wait time is one of the top complaints patients make about medical appointments, and dental work is no exception. To make wait times seem shorter, put a TV or other form of entertainment in the lobby. 

You can also let patients know how long they should expect to wait. This has been shown to reduce the perceived wait times for patients. In fact, one study found that 80% of patients would rate their experience higher if they knew how long they had to wait for care.

3. Customize Waiting Room Entertainment

Did you know that 94% of customer success professionals say personalization is one of the top considerations when trying to increase or retain their client base?  Why should your dental practice be any different?

You can use patient analytics to get insight into demographics and even interests. That way, you can customize the entertainment available in the lobby.

For example, if your practice primarily serves children, you’ll want to choose a TV station that caters to a younger audience. Meanwhile, offices that serve an older crowd can consider airing paid programming or the local news. 

4. Offer Free WiFi

For many patients, it doesn’t matter how entertaining your waiting room content is— they’ll be too busy browsing their smartphones to notice. That’s why free WiFi is absolutely vital to cultivating happy patients. 

Better yet, you can offer free WiFi in exchange for your patient’s contact information. Use that information to encourage patient retention and move them further along your marketing funnel. That way, both you and your patient can benefit from this tip.

5. Create a Relaxing Lobby Design

The top reason people fail to go in for their twice-yearly dental appointment is dentophobia or fear of the dentist. For that reason, your dental office design should be as relaxing as possible. 

For example, experts suggest that dental clinics avoid harsh lighting to reduce that clinical feel. Instead, feature natural light with large windows or skylights in your lobby.

Color is another important factor to consider. Studies show that people find organic, subdued colors more relaxing than bright hues. Blue and green are also known to be particularly tranquil choices.

Finally, pay attention to the furniture you pick. It should offer ultimate comfort, which means you should avoid those squeaky, faux-leather seats often featured in waiting areas. 

6. Reduce Intimidating Noises

Remember how we mentioned dentophobia? One of the reasons people develop this fear is all the intimidating noises that may trickle into the waiting room from the procedure room. From drilling to scraping and everything in between, dental tools can make some pretty scary noises.

Ease your patients’ fears with relaxing music or other means of audio entertainment. Better yet, design your dental office architecture to mitigate sound. Choose thick walls that shut out the noise and utilize doorways instead of open walkways where possible. 

7. Provide Alternative Payment Methods

With health care costs rising, the elimination of the individual mandate, and high-deductible health plans becoming the norm, more patients than ever before are paying for care out-of-pocket. That means they need other ways to pay when they can’t afford the cost of care.

Beyond necessity, offering alternate ways to pay will satisfy younger, more tech-savvy patients. While some patients are happy to mail a check or cash, others won’t be too happy that they can’t pay online. 

Offering alternate ways to pay for care (i.e., a credit or repayment program or through a digital payment portal) can help give your patients peace of mind and a more satisfying patient experience. Plus, making sure your patients can pay means you won’t have to put them through collections.

8. Always Follow Up

Just as the dental patient experience doesn’t begin at the office, it doesn’t stop at the office either. You should always follow up with patients. A personal call from the dentist is always preferable to make patients feel valued and cared for as your patient.

Happy Patients, Happy Practice

You know that happy patients mean you get to continue doing what you love— providing dental care for your patients. Now, you’re equipped to boost patient satisfaction and, ultimately, retention with these 8 tips.

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