By now, the cliché that patients don’t like going to dentists is as gnawing as a problem tooth. Patients’ reticence is
most often attributed to a fear of pain. But other reasons include simply disliking having someone else’s fingers in
their mouths, the sound of a drill on a tooth, problematic insurance, difficulty keeping an appointment due to other
commitments. You get the point – there’s very little to motivate patients to consistently make their annual check-ups.
Outside of the wholly unviable option of putting every patient entering a dental practice under general anaesthetic –
although sedation dentistry is gaining in popularity – dentists might do well to take a page or two out of retailers’
Customer Care Handbook. Of course, dentistry is not first-and-foremost a business. But, treating patients like customers
can hold some advantage. Here are four simple ‘customer-centric’ approaches dentists might employ to help keep patients
coming in regularly for their check-ups:Be friendly. Having friendly and professional reception staff, dental hygienists, and any other staff working in a practice
(especially the dentist!) can go a long way to making patients feel comfortable and welcome.Promote your product. Everyone at a practice should have good, clean teeth and general hygiene, as this can subconsciously assure patients
that their teeth, too, will be taken care of.Communicate clearly. Explaining what is going on and/or giving clear instructions can help orientate a patient and calm their nerves. This
is true from communication about scheduling an appointment through to why you’re about to poke a patient’s tooth with a
metal object.Make accommodation. It’s rare that dentists open on Sundays
, but many patients may simply not have the luxury of making an appointment during the week. Offering limited weekend or
extended weekday operating hours could make it easier for patients to make and keep an appointment.