H.L. Mencken once wrote, “It is mutual trust, even more than mutual interest, that holds human association together.” Even though Mencken has been dead for more than six decades, this statement can be applied to modern dentistry. Unless they live in a remote area with few practicing dentists nearby, patients have a host of different choices when deciding who will provide their professional oral health care needs. The best way to build a practice and retain patients is not solely based on offering advanced services or acquiring the latest sophisticated tool, but by building trust between you and your patients.
Trust, and what trust means in the medical field, is important
The standard definition of trust is “a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” In the medical realm, from the patient’s perspective, trust also is linked with vulnerability. A patient who trusts their dentist has made his or own independent analysis of the benefits and risks and decided that the former outweigh the latter.
If a patient turns down a procedure—whether it be a restoration, a cosmetic procedure, or even something as simple as the taking of an X-ray—then it means that patient has yet to build enough trust. We recommend you view such denials not as a “no” but rather as a “not yet.” The patient may need more convincing to reach that level of vulnerability with your dental practice.
Follow these strategies to build trust with your patience
Sharing personal details can help build a strong relationship. Think about your good friends… the more you know about them, the greater the rapport you have been able to build. Be interested in new patients. Just learning 10 personal facts about them can go a long way to relaxing the patient, and helping to build trust. It also shows patients you will treat them as individual human beings—and not just as the next anonymous individual sitting in the dental chair. Try to learn one new personal fact about that patient at each subsequent visit, which sometimes can be as simple as asking patients what is new in their life? We recommend listing these personal tidbits in the patient’s file, so it can be referred to before future visits.
Look for opportunities to build trust outside the office
Small gestures outside of the normal doctor-patient experience during a dental visit can go a long way in the process of building trust. This can be something as simple as calling patients the evening following a treatment to see how they are feeling, or sending an email if there is a new development or piece of news associated with your practice. Each time you or an office staff reach out, it creates a new touch point with that patient, enhancing their connection to your dental office. Patients appreciate this type of outreach, especially if it pertains to your dental practice or overall trends in the field of dentistry.
Show thoughtfulness about patients and their lives
You get the date of birth of each patient when they arrive for their very first appointment. So, why not send your patients a simple birthday card to acknowledge this milestone in their lives? Certain practices go so far as to send congratulations at wedding anniversaries. This creates another touch point but also shows a commitment by your practice to support the greater community where your patients live.
If you want some help in finding strategies to build trust with patients, or you think you need help fostering that trust within your own team, 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!