Dealing with patients – ‘Golden Rules’
Here is a round-up of our golden rules when dealing with patients to help you make the most of your dental plan:
First impressions count
Reception/waiting area is patient’s first contact with the practice during a visit
• Does it reflect the appropriate image the practice is aiming to achieve?
• Do staff appear enthusiastic/happy at their work?
• Do staff smile?
• Do staff acknowledge patients upon arrival?
Building patient rapport
When chatting with patients, do staff have a general or relevant conversation (could be that practice has a specific approach if running a promotion)?
Listen to what patients are telling you, it could just highlight an opportunity to talk about dental plans ie: visiting the dentist is becoming more expensive/hope I don’t need any further treatment, etc.
If necessary make notes, not only better than relying on memory, but might need to drop a ‘post-it’ to dentist for relevant discussion?
• Do you have an idea of what you want to talk about with a patient?
• Do you know the difference between asking ‘open’ and ‘closed’ questions and how to use with patients?
Always remember to listen to the patients’ response – possible opportunities?
Once you begin asking questions chances are the patient response might in itself be a question – do you have the answer!
Be aware of some of the key features and benefits that a dental plan provides.
Be familiar with the choice of promotional materials available.
Create the interest
You already understand that one aspect of your interaction with patients is to promote/raise awareness of your dental plan.
You already have some idea of what questions to ask – so ask them.
To obtain greater interest (in your plan) a patient will want to know the ‘W.I.F.M. Factor’ (what’s in it for me) so be prepared to tell them (using the three magic words—”which means that”):
• ‘you can pay by monthly direct debit which means that you spread the cost of treatment over 12 equal payments’
• ‘as a member of our plan you will benefit from a discount of x% on additional treatments which means that that you will make a saving of £xxx’
If necessary, use promotional material to support your discussion.
Check patient understanding
Are you comfortable that the patient has fully understood what you have discussed?
Make sure and ask:
• Is that clear?
• Do you understand?
• Anything you are unsure about?
• Do you have any questions?
Handling awkward questions/ overcoming objections
Patient questions/objections can happen at anytime throughout a conversation – so expect them!
Don’t panic/get defensive – a patient’s query can actually be a positive ‘buying signal’.
Close the conversation/look for a decision
You’ve raised awareness/asked the appropriate questions to highlight to patients’ the benefits of considering a dental plan
So ask for a decision:
• Would you like to complete the paperwork?
• Would you like to proceed?
• Would you like your Dentist to give you an idea of cost?
If the initial response is ‘NO’ – then check their understanding.
It may be that a patient wants time to ‘think about it’ – then accept it but agree a convenient follow up in the practice diary.
Always ensure you obtain appropriate contact details for each patient (could be mobile/works number, email address, etc).
Always ensure you agree a time/date convenient to both practice and patient for follow up contact (and ideally within 3-5 days).
Make sure a member of the practice team actually follows up as agreed.
• With Full Care Plan the patient only has one calendar month (from last visit) to accept your offer.
• If you don’t follow up the practice is not providing the service it has agreed – it’s a missed opportunity.
Why not create a practice/individual ‘Promotional Pack’ which can be referred to whenever required?
Refer to typical promo literature examples which could be
Registration Pack / Leaflet
Insurance Key Facts/Policy
Handouts & Training Notes
Conversion Letter/s (if applicable)
Don’t forget – promotional packs help support discussions with patients and act as excellent reference material/sales aids – you cannot be expected to remember everything!