“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it” – Peter Drucker
Most dental practice professionals have heard this famous quote from a prominent business management guru. And, the majority understand the concept and take steps to measure their practice’s performance, including:
- The number of potential new patients that contacted your practice over a given period of time
- The nature of their inquiry
- The number of those potential new patients that scheduled an appointment
If you already track these patient interactions, you know that increasing the percentage of inquiring patients that schedule a consult will have a significant positive impact on your financial performance. If you don’t, you’ve just identified the next item on your “To-Do” list.
Why patients don’t proceed to consult
We believe about a third of patient inquiries will always proceed and another third will never proceed. The remaining third is where your opportunity lies. However, before we can explore options to address the lead-to-consult bottleneck, we need to understand why so many people inquire but don’t make an appointment. While there are certainly many reasons, we believe the key ones are:
- Life is busy. Your potential new patient may have been quite sincere when they inquired, but before you were able to have a conversation with them, the need for your services has fallen to the bottom of their priority list…for now.
- Money. It could be “value” or “affordability”. Value is the patient’s perception of whether their potential gain is greater than the cost. Affordability is simply their ability to pay.
Keep your patients interested
If a busy lifestyle is the reason, the question becomes: When their interest is rekindled, who will they call? You can increase the chances that the answer will be your practice by remaining top-of-mind. Here are a few ideas:
- Put the right people on the front lines. Be sure the staff handling inbound new patient phone calls are “people” people who like to be helpful. This can mean separating these “Directors of First Impressions” from other staff members.
- Always get contact info. How are you going to stay in touch with me if I don’t give you my phone number? Have a conversation and add value: “James, I’d be happy to send over some detailed information on that procedure. What’s your email?”
- Respond to web forms promptly. The nice thing about web forms is you get contact information. However, it can be difficult to make live contact, especially if you wait too long to reach out. Be sure your web forms ask for the best times to call and request specific information about the procedures and treatments that prompted their inquiry.
- Create a follow up plan and follow it diligently. The rhythm and frequency of your contacts should fit the personality of the practice.
- Be sure your follow-up touch-points have value. A follow-up call has to be more than: “Hi this is Mary from Dr. Smith’s office calling to check in and see if you want to schedule your consultation.” Customize the follow up messaging around the reason for their original inquiry.
Communicate the real value of your practice
If the lead-to-consult bottleneck is a matter of money, here are a few key points to keep in mind when talking to the potential patient:
- Be confident in your own value. Don’t shy away from sharing the experiences of patients whose lives were improved by the investment they made with your practice - without using names, of course.
- Ask your potential patient if the fees that you have quoted are in line with their expectations. This will help you gauge where the patient is in their exploration of various options.
- Make the patient aware of payment options before they ask “The range of cost for this type of care is between $7,000 and $10,000. Patients can use one of the payment plans offered through GreenSky Patient Solutions™ to spread out the cost a bit.”
Solving the Lead-to-Consult Bottleneck requires a consistent approach, targeted messaging to all new patient inquiries and disciplined execution of your follow-up strategy. Keep the keys in mind as you develop or expand your plan: people have busy lives and the cost of care is important for every patient.
Serve your potential patients with useful information, invite them to visit your practice, and help them know that you are committed to making your care affordable. The results will be evident when that patient gets back to their “To-Do” list and calls YOU because YOU are the practice that has stayed relevant.
GreenSky Patient Solutions™ Program is a program name for certain consumer credit plans extended by participating lenders to borrowers for the purchase of goods and/or services from participating merchants/providers. Participating lenders are federally insured, federal and state chartered financial institutions providing credit without regard to age, race, color, religion, national origin, gender or familial status. GreenSky, LLC and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, including GreenSky Patient Solutions, LLC, service the loans on behalf of participating lenders.