Dentists must remember to open up to patients’ wishes, which go beyond the masticatory functionality. Otherwise, they run the risk of being perceived as just a problem solver.
A guest contribution by Thies Harbeck, Managing Director of OPTI Zahnarztberatung (Damp/Germany)
In times of ever increasing competition, it is becoming more and more important to sustain patient loyalty. Therefore, practice marketing is becoming increasingly important. Firstly: Patients who feel comfortable will remain “loyal” to their practice.
Become a service provider
Relieving toothache is one of the dentist’s duties, but it is unfortunately also associated with the negative experience of pain for the patient. If the dentist is seen as a service provider instead of the person treating defects, the patient’s perception will also change. In this context, reference should be made to the growing importance of esthetics. Perfect, white teeth are becoming more and more popular on the patients’ wish lists. Dentists who include beauty treatments in their range of services present themselves as modern and trend-oriented. A visit to the practice becomes an event that people "treat" themselves to for their own well-being.
There are numerous indications available, which dentists can offer to their patients as an esthetic restoration, such as crowns, inlays, onlays and ceramic veneers. There is huge untapped potential. Years ago, a German study predicted that this so-called second health care market would play a key role in the future. The range of services is large and requires little additional effort.
Professional tooth cleaning and bleaching are examples of services which are ideally suited to building up a second key area of economic success.
Delegating working steps
Key to an increase in sales is the fact that the dentist is able to delegate many treatments to trained employees and, in addition, can set the price for these private services himself. Prophylaxis and bleaching are mutually beneficial: anyone who has become accustomed to bleached teeth will want to preserve their beauty for as long as possible with regular professional tooth cleaning.
Also convincing your own team
Many dentists find it difficult to actively communicate additional services. They feel pushed into a sales role. However, anyone who is convinced of these treatments and of their performance will be confident and perceived as credible when discussing bleaching or intensive prophylaxis. It is important that the boss also involves his team in the importance of these treatments. After all, employees are the most effective marketing tool in creating an atmosphere of modernity and trust for the patients.
Actively seizing opportunities
There are many opportunities to talk to patients about additional services. For example, the prophylaxis assistant could encourage the patient to maintain or even improve her good dental situation through more regular prophylaxis sessions. She would also be able to draw the patient's attention to bleaching services which would further increase her esthetical appearance. And for the practitioner, a concrete diagnosis always provides an opportunity for communication. Of course, high sensitivity and tact is required. Training can help dentists to optimize their conversation skills.
A friendly smile is indispensable in many working fields, for example, as a receptionist or in sales. Dentist could actively ask their patients about their professional life. Measures to improve esthetics can promote professional success, as well as self-confidence.
Conclusion: Use this esthetical trend well
The communication of additional services helps to sustain the patient’s loyalty and supports the economic development of the practice. Those who act with a sense of tact and who include their team on board will benefit from this trend towards dental esthetics, which will continue in the future.
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The complete article was published in 2017 in the German specialist magazine "Dental Magazin".