Last minute cancellations and no-shows can be the biggest buzzkill out there. When this happens it’s as if you feel like there is no point in confirmation calls, confirmation texts, email reminders, and more.
You’re absolutely right though, but if we dive into the reasons why patients cancel or no show in the last minute then we can start reducing it slowly…. Right? I mean I doubt a patient scheduled a treatment for next week and then confirmed via text, phone call or email and then purposely decided not to show or was just sitting at home and said to themselves “today I am going to ruin this dental practice’s production schedule and not show up or call last minute and cancel *insert evil laugh*”. So what we have to do is find out why this is happening so much and be CONSISTENT and PERSISTENT with finding out the reasons for last minute cancellations or no-shows.
Reasons for Last Minute Cancellations or No-Shows.
Reason 1: The patient/ client has not been bought into or doesn’t own their needed dentistry. They think what your saying “what you diagnosed” could just be a bunch of bologna because they were “perfectly fine” before they saw. These type of patients/ customers seek every reason to cancel because they do not have a reason to complete their dental care.
Reason 2: The client is genuinely afraid of pain! (Big surprise right? Someone afraid of pain *gasp*). Although you may be the gentlest dentist in the universe it is still important to probe why they are afraid of pain, or why they feel everything you will do to them will involve pain. This could have implemented into a customer’s mindset due to past horrible dental experiences or stories that their friends or family members tell your customer.
Reason 3: Financial Concerns. Your customer/ patient may just not have the funds for it. Probe to figure this out, lots of times patients are shy or embarrassed to let their dentist know this so they tend to just not show up. If this is the reason then offer payment options (not over the phone). Let the patient know to not worry. If they open up top you about financial concerns mention that cost can be handled in many ways and to not worry about that; express that the main concern is what’s going on in the patient’s mouth right now (whatever the dentist diagnosed) and have them come in to discuss extremely flexible financial options that can totally cover the procedure.
Reason 4: The reason why they patient no-showed or cancelled on you last minute could be in fact that the patient really is physically sick! They may have the flu or severe allergies. Or they may honestly have work or traffic issues. Maybe their boss gave them a big project last minute and they have to get it done. Or maybe they are stuck in MAJOR traffic and will arrive at your dental practice 1 hour behind schedule. This is ok. They are being honest with you and if they didn’t show up due to traffic or work related issues then your patient will appreciate that you understand because you don’t want to feel rushed working on a late patient and the patient will show up irritated and annoyed due to the traffic and work related issues. Not a good mix.
So what’s the solution to these reasons?
Although I mentioned some solutions in the reasons above I am still going to mention them here but elaborate a little more.
Solution for Reason 1: Did you know that studies have shown that patients HAVE to hear a dentist recommendations and consequences for not going through with their scheduled treatment at least THREE TIMES before the patient actually understands and digests it. So if you only expressed to your patient once that they needed an implant and never mentioned it again and scheduled them for an implant consultation then…..yeah….. your patient isn’t going to show up for that consultation.
You need to clearly talk about the condition the patient’s mouth is in and what will happen if they delay treatment every single day. BUILD URGENCY.
Have the hygienist repeat whatever the dentist diagnosed if they have an upcoming cleaning, have the assistants repeat the diagnosing, have the treatment coordinator ESPECIALLY repeat what the dentist diagnosed, and have the front office and scheduler repeat it as well. EVERYONE should know that patient’s oral situation and instill urgency in the patient.
Solution for Reason 2: Like I mentioned before. A lot of the times patients (especially new patients in your dental office) are afraid of pain. Ok… who isn’t?! However as human beings we know if pain is related to the scenario we try to avoid that pain; whether it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental. Why do you think whenever we see our EX who broke your heart walking down the street we try to avoid them! This all happens through horrible past experiences. Figure this out. Talk to your new patient and warm up to them as much as possible. Within the initial visit you have got to express how warm your staff, the dentist, and your whole office is. If the patient tells you about their past experience express great deal of concern and sympathy for them.
Solution for Reason 3: The majority of the people are very private when it comes to their financial state, income, debts, and so forth. So patients will be the same way with you. They rather cancel an appointment or no-show and say they were “bust” then rather tell you that they just can’t afford it. If your patient ever schedules a following appointment and they still have cost concerns or you feel that they are surprised or squirmy when you told them about the cost for their procedure….then….yeah…… they are going to no-show you. That right there is a major reason for your patient to cancel or no-show. Make sure you always give your patients plenty of flexible financial options. If you tried absolutely everything to make it affordable (even cutting treatment in half and working in parts) and somehow they still can’t afford it then guess what…..they can’t afford it. Move on. Call them back within 6-12 months to let them know you still care and see if their finances have changed.
Solution for Reason 4: If the patient is really ill then obviously you want to express concern! Point them to the best Urgent Care or local doctor. If they are a fantastic patient who pays well, then heck pay for their initial doctor’s visit! That would be amazing and they would love you for that (plus it wouldn’t be much and it shows your care A LOT). You can also call to check in on them, write them a card signed by your staff, etc.
If they had work related issues or stuck in traffic express how you understand. Let them know that you understand that LIFE happens, unexpected things will always pop-up. Immediately ask for a re-schedule date and time and let them know how bummed out the dentist will be.
Now that you know the main (actually really…. Only reasons) why patients cancel or no-show it’s time to figure out which reason dominates the most in your dental office. Find out these reasons in your patients who constantly cancel and no-show and apply the solution. Slowly but surely you will reduce these problem.
Let me know how it goes!
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The more we are exposed to the world, the more eyes are on your brand and more voices are speaking about your dental office! And this is great, right! This is what we want when we invest time and money into marketing and advertising your dental practice. However, this also means you may 1, 2,or maybe more upset customers. You may have had a miscommunication with a patient. Or competition may just be playing really dirty and wants to see you fail!
When this happens most people feel that they need to do something about it… so they go to third- party websites like Yelp or Angie’s List and leave a bad review about your dentistry. They may also express their feelings or concerns on social media and this can damage your social media presence.
So what can we do when we receive bad reviews? Well, let me tell you, not everyone is going to like you (listen to podcast episode 009 as I go into more detail about this) but you need to learn to accept that. Once you’ve accepted it, now it’s time to do damage control!
Get ready to start managing your reputation online!
Tools to help you manage your online reputation
When dealing with reputation management on social media and third party websites you need to measure five things:
- Awareness: followers, social media mentions, branded search volume, new links.
- Conversion: increased sales, send to friend, newsletter subscribers, any metrics…
- Relationships: How much conversation, tone of conversation, application of conversation, whose initiating conversation.
- Sentiment: Do they like you or not, how is this changing over time, do they feel you are listening, are you responding?
- Engagement: unique visitors, time on site or pages viewed, frequency of visit, inbound links and mentions.
When measuring these five things I recommend using tools social media tools like:
Use these tools (or pick one) to look through each popular third party website and social media platforms to see what you can find that is relevant to your brand / dental office.
These tools help you to pinpoint who is having conversations about your brand online.
So say someone mentions you on social media; SOCIAL MEDIA IS HUGE….. how can you find that mention if they don’t tag you!? By using the tools above and figuring out what the engagement rate is, whose viewing what people are saying about your dental practice, how many views the negative review/ comment is getting, and obviously you can use your own common sense to see if it is good conversations about your dental office or a bad one.
A quick tip: looking at negative reviews from other dental offices in your community, with the tools mentioned above, can actually help you build a great marketing strategy. Looking through negative dental reviews and comments will help you to understand not only what NOT to do in your dental office, but to express that in the community through your marketing strategy.
Should you address customer service issues on social media?
You never want to break or run into the HIPAA compliance law. Make sure you are not mentioning too much of the issue on social media if you do find negative reviews/ remarks online. However you do want to say “SORRY” when someone is upset and understand that people….actually everyone has bad days and do what you can to fix it!
The best you can do if the person is upset on social media or a third party website is address the issue, mention to them your condolences (how sorry you are to hear that), and ask them when would be a good time to call them or email them to fix the issues right away!
Now, sometimes a negative review can just be a negative insane review. What I mean is, do you ever get that one review where you were like “ummmm okay, which patient is this?!” OR “WHAT?! When did we ever do any of this?!”
Some reviews can just be straight up mean and incredibly false, they could even attack you directly which will automatically make you want to be responsive and defensive! but… HOLD ON! It’s best to know when to respond, so let me share with you when to respond.
Only respond to the negative review under these circumstances to negative reviews:
- IF YOU ARE WRONG. If you are wrong just do what I stated above; apologize and see how you can fix it.
- IF THE REVIEW IS WRONG. Make sure facts stay as facts and opinions aren’t misinterpreted as facts. So make sure no lying is going on but correct it in a friendly way.
- IF THE REVIEW STARTS TO CATCH FIRE. If the negative review starts to pick up traction and more and more people are involved in it, you better be a part of that engagement process and make sure it slows down or gets cut off completely.
As you grow and attract new patients, your main concern should always be providing the best dental care to all of your patients. However, not everyone will see this. You can have the nicest, juiciest peach ever, but there is still always going to be that ONE person who doesn’t like peaches. So don’t fret or feel like the world is a dark hole that wants to see you crumble when you get a negative review. Just follow the steps above and you’ll be okay!
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Every community has some sort of hotel or motel in their block, neighborhood, or community. Can the people who work here be your new potential patient? If you are thinking about a small motel, I can understand why you’re telling yourself “ehhhh I don’t care”. But think bigger, think about the Embassy Suites or Marriott types of hotels (or if you’re living in Nevada near Las Vegas, you definitely will want to read this!)
Most dentist or marketers don’t know this but hotels are a fantastic place to attract new patients! They are filled with employees who have dental insurance (mainly the event coordinators, managers, etc. are the ones with the PPO type of insurance). Then you have the other side of employees who have NO INSURANCE (mainly housekeeping).
Aim to attract every employee
Target both of these employees but market to them differently!
You see first you have to build rapport and a relationship with the marketing manager or someone who will let you advertise and market to the hotel’s employees. If you’re still unfamiliar with how to build a relationship or just get the “ok” from management to market your dentistry download the “2 simple and easy marketing tactics to attract new patients now” for free. Read it, apply, and the rest will be easy!
Anyways, so once you’ve gotten the “okay” to market to the hotel’s employees, start creating your strategy. Talk to management and see if you can stand in on one of their “health and safety” days, or host a “health and safety” day, or just simply ask them who has insurance and who doesn’t.
The hotel management staff will be more likely to open up about whatever information you ask because they want to add benefits to their employees as much as possible.
Once you get the “okay!”
If hotel management says “yes” to standing in on one of their health and safety meetings then prepare what you will say to the employees. Make sure it is short, not about any of your dental office’s features, and point out the benefits you give them (dental and economical). I will touch on how to speak at lunch & learns in another blog or podcast soon.
If hotel management says “yes” to your dental practice hosting a “health and safety event” then host it! Now, here you obviously get more bang for your time being there. You not only get to converse with the staff but also their family! Sometimes, when the hotel knows there is an event taking place for their staff, at times, they tend to invite other local business as well. When this happens thank everyone for coming and have a small 30 second to 1 minute speal when they give you the floor to speak. Don’t go on and on about your dental practice just mention one extraordinary benefit that you are offering to only the exclusive people attending the event and that’s it. Throughout the day have someone set-up a booth and manage it while you are out mingling with everyone and grabbing THEIR business cards. Guide them to your booth and have them sign-up for a visit.
If hotel management says “probably not” or “no” to both options above then simply ask if you can leave a sign-up sheet or if there is some way you can give exclusive information to the employees. They may say just leave it in the break room. Now, if they do say that, this is not a bad thing! This gives you a reason to continue to come back and keep dropping off information or picking up information and at the same time you can continue to build a relationship with the staff and eventually (in no time actually) you will be able to do much more for the hotel’s employees and the employees will be more inclined in going to your dental office because they know a familiar face (whoever is doing the ground marketing) from your dental office.
Once you have a handful of people singing up to come to the office talk with management again and see if people on the sign-up sheet have insurance or cash. Divide it and from that point on figure out what extensive offers you can give them according to their situation (insurance or no insurance). This will increase the percentage of them making the first appointment.
So guys, hope this helps!
Don’t forget to download the 2 simple and easy marketing tactics to attract new patients now… for free! This will help you (or whoever is doing your ground marketing) immensely! So download it below! *looks down*
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More and more dentist have become very familiar with the term “SEO”; but exactly how familiar are they with the work behind SEO?
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry is forever changing. This means that whatever you think you know about SEO, as a dentist, probably changed a while ago. Actually, believe it or not, I’m still talking to dentist who think having an optimized website isn’t that much of a big deal!!
That’s pretty much saying, wherever your physical dental practice location is at, pretty much isn’t a big deal. I bet the guy who has his practice on the 144th floor of a building in Antarctica gets as much traffic as the dentist who has his dental practice in the most crowded shopping mall (little exaggerated example but still)…. NO!
Making sure your website is optimized is super important! Not only that but also make sure you have appealing content to go a long with your website, but that’s another topic for another post.
SEO work also has much more to do than just trying to rank for the keywords YOU (the dentist) think that most people type into search engines to find a dental practice. You first need to do research to see what your local community is looking for and then start doing a keyword analysis. But guess what? This isn’t even 15% of the whole SEO work!
As a dentist, understand that this is a whole new and different complex job! The days where bidding for back-links and keyword stuffing is long gone my friend!
You need to build links, create content, keep doing keyword analysis, review your website analytics, and continually keep up with the forever changing algorithm of the search engines!
I know by now your thinking “Dude… your speaking GREEK to me! Just tell me if I really need SEO on my website!”
A QUICK 30 SECOND TEST
Do me a favor; Google or type into any search engine “dentist (and then your city’s name)”. What do you see on the first page? Probably a bunch of ads but then look at the names that aren’t ads;
Do you see your name?
Do you see your practice’s name?
You’re already losing out on so many new patients.
Now click on page 2.
Do you see your name?
Your practice’s name?
Guess what? Half of your city, if not more probably don’t even know you exist.
Put it this way, when you look for a veterinarian or doctor in your city, are you looking on page 3 of Google?
According to Matt Sharp at http://www.protofuse.com/blog/first-page-of-google-by-the-numbers/
- 90% of clicks happen on the first page of organic results (“organic results” mean the results that show that are NOT ads)
- 10% of search engine users only advance to the second page!
No doubt, having your practice’s website up in the search engine rankings will bring in more patients; patients that are actually looking for you!
What is the best thing to do if my dental office’s name didn’t show up?
If you are one of the dentists who looked up your name or your dental practice’s name and couldn’t find the results you wanted, don’t worry! This post was not meant to stress you out! This doesn’t mean I want you to spend an all-nighter trying to optimize your website (because that means you’ll have to spend all-nighters ALL the time).
I recommend going with an agency who knows what they’re doing and can prove it! Do you research and find the best SEO out there for you. This may take some time but, ask yourself:
“Would I rather sacrifice a couple of hours researching the best SEO agency for my practice OR try doing it myself, spend countless hours EVERY SINGLE DAY trying to optimize my website, and losing out every day on new patients looking for a dentist near them”?
I think we both know which one you’d pick!
Hopefully, through this post I can motivate you to see just how important SEO is for your website and how essential it is for growing your practice with new patients.
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Have you ever wondered why when you buy a new pair of shoes, buy a new car, or buy a certain brand of clothes… then you see EVERYONE driving that new car, wearing those new shoes, or wearing that certain brand! That’s because before you bought it, it really wasn’t too aware in your mind. Once you bought it, awareness happened, it’s in your life, either on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, you are now aware of it and that awareness can either create a sense of urgency or kill of the matter in total. You can either say: “oh man everyone has this car now, they’re seeing how awesome it really is” (although let’s face it, these people probably had the car before you) or say “ugh, why did I get this car everyone has it, it’s so played out”.
We want the same thing to happen with our dental practice. We want potential patients and existing patients who haven’t visited in a while to be aware of us. This is done through many avenues. But for the sake of the length of this post we will discuss one which is effective email marketing.
If you have recalls this means these patients were/ are your patients; which also means you should have all their info including their email! You need to create a system and strategy to constantly (weekly, daily, every 3 days) send out emails to patients.
DON’T SPAM THEM!
Send creative, funny, interesting emails. You do not want to constantly send emails about sales or discounts either; this not only de-values your practice and product but also gives the patient a reason to not open your email or to start thinking “ehh I’ll wait for that Christmas special to get my work done”.
Remember we want action NOW!
So be consistent with your emails, understand the personality of the office and be transparent and translate that in your newsletter.
Use effective subject lines.
Think about it, more people are looking at their emails through their mobile cell phone. So the subject line has to be even shorter than on a desktop and much more attracting.
Remember people love seeing their name. Although this technique has been a little saturated still don’t be afraid to add their first name in the subject line.
Use a call to action subject line. A good example is something like : ”Bob, here’s your dental procedure” or “Billy, your bleach trays are at our office”. Even if Bob or Billy haven’t been to the office in years, these subject lines give them a sense of awareness to see and say “huh? what’s going on”.
Once they open the email then you can have some visuals (pictures) and state the procedure you found best to fit them or how you can introduce the new whitening procedure you found that fits them best.
Always start the email with a nice question like “how was your weekend/ presidents day/ your taco Tuesday”? Use whatever question you’d like! Also always finish with a question such as: “whats your thoughts?” or “actually (office manager’s name) would like to show you your revised treatment plan that fits into your budget WAY better, so give us a call at this time 00:00 if we don’t hear from you ,not to worry, we will call you around 00:00”.
However always remember to build a relationship with these patients through email. Just like conversation with friends, share with them the latest dental news, dental memes and cartoons, or your social media.
Try using these techniques when doing email outreaches or email re-calls.
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