Effective communication is so important in every facet of life. Communication skills are key in any professional realm, but especially in the dental industry when dealing with patients. Read on for a few tips on how to improve effective communication with your clientele.
Tip 1: Avoid yes/no questions
Let’s say a patient calls to make an appointment—or to cancel or reschedule an existing appointment. If you only ask the patient yes or no questions (“Would you like to reschedule?”) then you are putting the patient in total control of the schedule. Rather than ask yes or no questions, a better strategy is to present your patients with two options to reschedule a canceled or failed appointment. You could offer a morning and an afternoon appointment.
Tip 2: Never offer to provide a patient who has canceled or missed an appointment with the next available appointment
It can be frustrating when a patient cancels an appointment on short notice. Dealing with these situations sometimes can affect communication when you are attempting to reschedule. Instead of trying to give a canceling patient the soonest appointment possible, we recommend re-training the patient by offering the patient an appointment four to six weeks in advance. This educates your patient that appointments are not easily obtainable.
Tip 3: Have set protocols when a patient calls for an emergency appointment
The need for dental care does not always defer to the calendar. Structure your schedule so that emergency appointments are available when needed; being able to offer emergency service is an attractive option for new patients looking for a new dentist. Be sure to ask questions before scheduling an emergency appointment. For example, if you ask a patient how soon they can arrive and the reply is “Later this afternoon” or “Whenever I can get off work,” then the dental emergency is not a genuine emergency.
Tip 4: Remember the golden rule
You might recall this one from your childhood: Treat others the way you want to be treated. A variation applies to situations with communication: Speak to patients the way you would want to be spoken to. Be courteous at all times, and sincere.
Tip 5: Have a plan, and then have a backup plan
We hope you can use the tips above as a tool for communicating with your patients, but inevitably there will be situations where your plan does not work. In that case, always have a backup plan in place when it comes to rescheduling patients.
Improving the way that your staff is able to communicate with patients is crucial to long-term success, and this is a skill that can be learned. If you find the advice in this article helpful but are unsure how to implement it, Bryant Consultants can help. Our services can help you realize your vision, establish goals, and set processes in place to evolve your practice. Contact us by calling (877) 768-4799.
We provide consultation, training, and coaching to help improve the operations of your practice so that you can provide exceptional results to your patients. No office is out of reach for us; we will even come to you!