If you are looking for “an edge” in your dental marketing that will make you stand out from your competition, professional pictures and videos are it. Seeing an image of the dentist upon arrival to the website creates an immediate connection to the practice for the patient. The images on your website are the first items of information that a visitor to your website will process. Around 90% of the information processed in the brain is visual and the brain actually processes images 60,000 times faster than text! This definitely lends some truth to the well known adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
And of course you won’t want to stop with just images. You can further build on that connection with quality professional video. It can be nerve racking to search for a new dentist for any patient, and so the ability to feel like you’ve gotten to know the dentist a little before walking through the door is simply priceless. Check out a professionally branded dental marketing video created for two of our dentists, Dr. Israel Salin and Dr. Dimitri Salin.
Once you have created your professional images and video, you want to make sure to splash them everywhere, your website alone is not enough. You’ll want potential patients to see you everywhere they go… images on yelp, yahoo, all your local listings, facebook, youtube, etc. You’ll also want to play commercial snippets and use your images on banners for re-marketing ads that target users who have visited your site in the past. You’ll want to add these images to direct mail postcards and emails that you send out. When a patient sees you everywhere they look, they will begin to believe you are absolutely the most obvious and best choice in town.
Lets face it… we are all human, and have a lot on our plates. I am sure every single one of us has forgotten an appointment, or double booked our schedule. So as a practice, how do you take in to account human error?
Here are a few ways to remind patients of their appointments, and encourage re-booking when something else comes up.
1. Call your patients and remind them.
–Everyone needs a reminder now and then, and we find that it works best when it comes a few days in advance. When you call your patients the day or heaven forbid the night before, often times this is too late to move around schedules when double booking has happened, and typically the dental appointment loses in the priority game.
2. Don’t expect your patients to call you back.
–As previously mentioned… people are busy. If you rely on your patients to give you a call when they have a free moment, it might not happen for several months. Have a list of patients to call back and schedule, or reschedule.
At Dental Game Plan, every appointment booked is followed up with by our call center operators when the patient cancels, or is simply a no show. We find that speaking to the patient, that we pursue, allows us to reschedule, find out why the appointment was not kept, and helps us to better ourselves when it was not kept for a specific reason on the office’s part (i.e. not getting an appointment soon enough in an emergency case).
3. Do not be afraid to be tough.
–When extending a promotional deal (low prices) to a new client, do not be afraid to ask them to pay in advance, especially when a large block of time will be held for their appointment. This will ensure that you have a patient booked who will most likely show up. It also is reassuring to the patient that no hidden fees are associated with the visit. We find this works best in non-emergency cases, such as routine cleanings. However when a patient is coming in for an unknown visit, like a tooth ache, it makes it nearly impossible to ask them to pay anything upfront.
–When you have a existing patient no-show, or cancel, remind them of your cancellation policy. Of course use discretion, but when you have a repeat offender, applying a no show fee or late cancellation fee is acceptable. Many offices use a three strike system, and the patients who come to the office are informed on the policy, and warned when they have used up a “strike”.
4. Tracking your results.
–Companies like Dental Game Plan track your monthly results. Each appointment made is followed up with through the office to be sure that the patient made it to their appointment. If they did not, the call center follows up with the patient to see if rescheduling can happen.
Knowing that people are busy, and your office is also busy, makes having a third party company who tracks your appointments and no- shows very beneficial to everyone involved.
Over the years, we have found that dental internet marketing hinges on new patient specials. Yet with every new client that comes to our program, I spend countless hours working to get them on board with the notion that new patient specials are not just needed but critical to growing their business long-term. So I would like to take a minute to discuss some of the objections I listen to over and over again and how I’m likely to respond should you and I ever have this conversation in person.
Client: I really don’t want the kind of new patients that are shopping for a deal
Jessie: You must play to your audience! The vast majority of surfers online are shopping for a deal. This is the current trend in our internet based society. We have gone back to coupon clipping and deal hunting. Why pay more if you do not have to? The dental office down the street that you are competing with has new patient specials and accessible offers out on the web and in print. If a potential patient is looking at several offices online and all have great reviews and a good internet presence, why would they choose the office not offering a deal? After all, most people have a try-before-buy mentality as there is no guarantee that they will like the location, staff, or the dentist, so why not choose the business offering service at the least initial out of pocket expense?
Client: My hygienist makes 40+/hour, her time is expensive so I don’t want to offer a cleaning, exam & x-ray deal
Jessie: If you give no other offers for new patients, this is the one to give! I cannot stress this enough. Patients looking for a cleaning, exam and x-ray are dream patients that will be gold for you in the long run. The patients who are concerned about their dental health and are making it a continual priority are the patients who will opt to get a root canal and a crown immediately when the problem arises instead of letting the problem deteriorate until they are in pain and have no other choice but to come in and have the tooth extracted. Patients who are actively seeking a cleaning when they have no other underlying issues forcing them to seek out a dentist are the patients you want. Also, cleanings and exams are where you find that a patient may have issues they don’t know about and you’re able to schedule them for a return visit. Not only should you offer new patients a cleaning, exam and x-ray special, you should roll out the red carpet for them and congratulate them on being mindful of their dental health.
Client: You want me to offer too many specials, can’t we just have one new patient special?
Jessie: Again, you must play to your audience! A patient who just broke their denture does not care about a cleaning, exam and x-ray offer. The patient searching for Invisalign or Veneers is not interested in your Implant offer. We make it a point to have one “closing” offer and one follow up “treatment acceptance” offer for each and every major service your office is marketing. If you are running ads and ranking organically for lets say root canals, you absolutely must have a root canal offer and if you are running ads and ranking for the keyword implants you absolutely must have implant offers and so on.
Client: They just come in and take advantage of the deal and never come back…
Jessie: This answer may sound a little harsh and I will admit to saying this more diplomatically for our clients but the truth of the matter is that… “This is on you!” Our job is to get the potential patient through the door and the your job to make the experience one worth coming back for. In other words, you need to WOW them with your very best customer service and do whatever it takes to make them comfortable in your office. Then, as much as you may hate it, you must offer them a SECOND INCENTIVE to entice them back. Once you have them in the door with a low or no cost incentive for a consultation, you need to follow that up with an additional offer geared towards treatment acceptance. If they come in for an emergency consultation and you determine that they need an extraction, follow that up with an offer for a percentage off an implant. And make sure to provide the patient with payment plan options. Then and only then will you have cemented yourself as their long-term provider.
If you take nothing else from this read, please take this; The value of a new patient is not merely found in how much they spend during one visit. The value of a new patient that is inspired to become a returning loyal patient, who is committed to their oral health, is found over the potential years they are with you, the friends and family that they refer to your business, and the potential compounding effect of those referrals that lead to other referrals and so on.
Please keep in mind that with our front-loaded, incentive based approach immediate results are not always easy to see, but stick with it. I find that even after hours of discussion, some clients reluctantly agree to offer the incentives we require solely based upon the fact that they are foisted upon them as a condition of our guaranteed results. Over the course of the next several months, while these client adjust to the new way of doing business, we inevitably hear complaints, rebuttals, case studies and other myriad reasons our incentive based approach just isn’t working. These dentists are looking for ways to be right and so they tighten their grip and shine a spotlight on each and every new patient that comes to them and fits any earlier objection and parade those stories into my inbox, with an unspoken “I told you so!” And without fail, about 3-4 months down the line when patients are flooding in and the numbers game is playing out, I magically stop hearing those objections. By this time in the process we are getting so many awesome patients with the incentives that the occasional ‘dud’ doesn’t even factor in. And in truth, I often have clients who come back to me months down the road with their own great ideas for new and exciting incentives!
As hard as it may be to believe, just because someone reads your patient’s reviews, that does not always mean that they will feel inclined to leave a review of their own. Usually the idea simply does not occur to them. This study published on Statista shows that people are four times more likely to read a review about their doctor than actually leave a review about their doctor. This is where you and your staff come in.
A wealth of positive patient reviews, not only helps casual surfers turn the corner and become patients, but it also aids in your dental search engine marketing. Online patient reviews are an important component in how your website, review listing or local listing ranks in comparison to your competitors. Or course, this is only one component of dental search engine marketing, but it does carry some significant weight.
You should always let your patients know how much you would appreciate a review. Use incentives to thank them for being a loyal client and for sharing the experience they’ve had at your practice with the rest of the world. Post signs and literature that prompt your happy patients to ask you or your staff for more information about leaving reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Make sure to ask your marketing company for the most effective signage, they likely already have something created. Or give us a call at Dental Game Plan and we would be glad to steer you in the right direction.
The main thing you can do to get the word out about leaving reviews is to make sure you or your staff mention it to every patient that comes through your door. For Dental Game Plan clients – all you need to do is get their email address and we’ll do the rest. You may be surprised how many of your patients are more than happy to leave a positive patient review for the great service they received at your office if asked to do so.
How many times have you called an office, a restaurant, or a doctor and had the phone ring and ring until it clicks over to a prerecorded message. “Sorry we are not in right now…” Of course you don’t know what the next part of the message is, because you already hung up.
A recent study found that 75% of all calls sent to voice mail, hang up. EVoice also did a study, and they found that of all messages left, 33% of them are not ever even checked. This undoubtedly is harmful to any business.
So what is the solution?
Many companies have turned to an answering service who will answer your phone calls when your office is not open, and will relay the messages to the office when they are open again. This of course is not the most desired option, because there is still a disconnect between the office and the answering service when operators are unable to fully assist the caller.
At Dental Game Plan our operators are specifically trained and knowledgeable in the field of dentistry, we are HIPAA compliant and are able to speak to your new patient callers 24/7, while representing your office to the highest standard. Our operators are able to relay pertinent office information, answer patient questions and even book appointments for you where there are openings in your schedule.
Above all, keep in mind it is vital that you have a living, breathing human available to make a connection with each and every caller, so no onegets left behind in “voice-mail purgatory”. Building a relationship over the phone, is the first step in securing a new patient connection, and integral to having long-term rapport.
As of January, 2015 it was estimated that 74% of people are connected to some form of social media. That means that 74% of all people connect to others through the internet. If this stat is true, then that means that as a practice you should be very proficient communicating via the internet. The best way to do this is to set up a chat client for your patients to access.
Providing a live chat program for your clients ensures that they can reach you when making a phone call is not convenient. Of course in order to make this successful, there will need to be a person on the other end of this exchange in order to ‘live chat.’
When you provide a live person on chat, it gives the chance to provide immediate customer service. You will be able to get information from your patient, as well as give important information that they will need. Be engaging with your patients while chatting with them, and be quick to respond so they do not lose interest. Train your staff so they will have the the knowledge to answer their questions, and be honest when you are unsure about something- with the promise to find out the answer.
Many people tend to get lost when navigating a website, so providing a live helper to answer questions will help reduce the amount of visitors abandoning their search and increase your conversion rate from browsers, to patients.
Remember to get the patients name and phone number early in the conversation in case you need it. Once they have their information, they will likely disconnect, so having contact information is a necessity.
Chatting with patients will only become more popular with time. So jumping on the bandwagon and being ahead of your competition is imperative when you are building a successful practice.
So your custom dental website looks pretty sleek and professional but your phone just isn’t ringing off the hook…
That’s because a nice looking site or a page 1 Google listing by itself is not enough to convert the average web-surfer looking for dental services; you need a dominating online presence everywhere the potential patient turns and an arsenal of conversion tools to get them scheduled once they land on your site.
You need glowing patient reviews across several platforms such as Google, Yelp, and Citysearch to inspire confidence that your visitor is making the right decision.
The appointment process needs to be an easy one, with online appointment requests, easy to find phone numbers, click-to call, and a friendly voice on the other side of the phone 24 hours a day seven days a week who will not ask your potential patient to “hold please.”
You need live chat to reel in “looky-loo’s” with real time assistance and special offers.
Lastly, for those potential patients that do not commit on the first look, a Google remarking strategy to follow them around, a steady social media presence and a directory listing everywhere your potential patient turns, will position you squarely above your competition.
No one enjoys being placed on hold. When you are forced to actually call a business to get the answers you need, being on hold is just an annoying waste of time. With technology on the rise, and answers literally at our fingertips, having correct, actionable answers now is more important than ever.
Most company’s online marketing goals are to engage the potential customer enough to warrant a phone call. In fact, 93% of the average marketing / advertising budget is spent to entice potential customers to call you. When a person actually does call in, it’s been found that 70% of them will be asked, “Could you please hold?” at some point during their call. This is literally the equivalent to flushing money down the toilet. Consider these statistics:
- According to a recent study, the average hold time for businesses with more than two lines is 55 seconds
- Another study indicated that of the 8 – 15% of a company’s customer base is lost each year, 68% is due to indifferent or negative phone treatment
- 34% of callers who hang up will not call back, and you have a very big reason to not place anyone on hold unless absolutely necessary
Now, you may draw your own conclusions once you’ve looked at the data, however, one fact that can not be ignored is that conversion rates and customer retention rates have dramatic decline when people feel that they are not important to you.