Does Your Practice Have a Word-of-Mouth Culture?
Not all new patients are created equal. People who come to your practice at the invitation of a current patient come with the right mindset and expectations; they arrive “mind-ready” to accept the value you provide.
I say invitation rather than referral because I believe we need to think of it in those terms. This invitation is personal and distinct from the professional referral you get when a when a health-care colleague sends a patient to you. If we think of patient recommendations as invitations, it forces us to think about the value we’re creating to earn those valuable personal endorsements.
All new patients are valued, but the ones who arrive as invited guests really give you the chance to leverage your influence in a very powerful way. These guests allow you to build a practice that isn’t just a collection of charts, but a network of like-minded people with its own identifiable culture.
The best dental practices have the feeling of a private club. These practices may look like any other to an outside observer, but the people within—the team and the patients—have the privileged sense of being in just the right place. It’s in practices like these that you find patients who remain loyal even after they move, and end up traveling long distances so they can keep that “membership.”
It’s important to remember that invitations don’t take care of themselves. We want to believe that if we provide great quality care our patients will naturally spread the word; however, many people don’t go out of their way to talk about personal enhancements they’ve had done, whether it’s a facelift, liposuction or smile makeover. People will gladly give recommendations if prompted. If you don’t prompt them, they don’t think of offering invitations. They see a busy-looking practice and assume you don’t need more patients. You probably have many people who love coming to you and are influential among their peers; they just simply never think of mentioning their dentist to others.
How many potential ambassadors are walking out the door keeping their rave reviews to themselves? How many people would be happy to offer a written testimonial or readily promise to mention you to their friends, if only they were asked?