Every practice has a protocol for their "new patient experience" with first-time visitors. It's such a crucial subject that I have spent a lot of time breaking down the elements of a well-crafted first visit in workshops, articles and an e-book.

Let's assume that creating value in the right way for a new patient is something you and your team pay special attention to and have become good at. What happens when a patient responds to your efforts to influence their thinking about dentistry and dental health in general, and to you and your office in particular?

The first thing to do is to recognize that this is happening. There are a number of things a patient might say that are clues that they are curious about moving forward with comprehensive care. They might remark on how far dentistry has advanced over the years and how unaware they were of those changes.

When you talk about the possibilities for their dentistry they might say something like, "I hadn't considered that change was even possible before, but I would definitely like to see that changed." They might say, "Sounds great, but how much would that cost?" If they are thinking about the investment, it means they are thinking about value, and starting to weigh how they can arrange for the financial commitment.

When you hear expressions of interest like this, it's important to do what you can to capture that vital early momentum.

If you have not already planned for complete records at this visit you can streamline the plan for today to allow enough time to collect necessary records like photos. It's also necessary to build on their expectations by explaining that when they return for their next appointment you'll take time to walk them through the possibilities and outline their goals, the options to achieve those goals, and the cost.

If the change to today's schedule is impossible, you could have them return soon for a complete records visit, or make that process part of an extended hygiene visit with a subsequent appointment for the consultation.

The action you take depends on how you read the situation. The important thing is recognition that you have accomplished the first step with the patient: creating enough value to get them thinking about comprehensive care. This is a significant achievement in itself, but what happens next is a reflection of your ability to build on that value in a timely manner; it's usually a fairly easy to thing to do.

After all, you are not asking for a commitment to treatment, you're asking for permission to collect more information so you can have a deeper discussion about possibilities. If they have expressed curiosity, that is one small step, but it can represent a giant leap in their dental care journey.