One Ridiculously Simple Way to Improve Retention
Every single thing everyone does in the practice—the whole “chain of value”—has to start with the patient getting appointed. And seeing as how ongoing dental care is a must for every patient, it would seem like a no-brainer that everyone walks out with an appointment to return. But if you take a good look at your “closure rate” for appointing each day, you might be surprised at how many leave without a firm commitment.
In fact, why not try this experiment: Take a look at the records for the patients who visited you yesterday and check to see how many left unappointed. Now ask yourself some questions.
Did someone try to schedule the appointment with them? Or was the team busy or distracted? Or was it unclear in the chart what expectations were for the next visit? Or did the patient sneak out the door?
If there was a conversation with a patient, was it done with the right value? You don’t want to appoint for the sake of getting a name in the schedule, just so they can change it later if something else comes up. The patient needs to be aware of the “appointment is a reservation” philosophy in your practice, and that everything you do after the appointment is made is done as a courtesy.
Of course many patients will simply tell you that they don’t know what they are going to be doing six months from now, and that is no doubt true. But that is the whole purpose of appointing, and if you have created the right value for their dental appointment, you’ll be able to hand them their appointment card, smile, and say, “Now you do.”
So take a look at those patients who left yesterday without an appointment and try to identify what happened. This isn’t about assigning blame; it’s about awareness for one of the most fundamental aspects of patient relations. Once you see where the gaps are occurring, you can take steps to close them. The best way to start is to get in touch with each of those escapees as soon as possible and get them to commit to a return engagement.