An aesthetic patient journey

patientsLisa Bainham explains how a knowledgeable team and a shiny practice can help you and your patients get off the starting line the right way.

Over the past 20 years, we have tweaked our patient journey continuously to provide the best care for our patients, an enjoyable workflow for our team, and reach our conversion key performance indicators.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but once you have a formula and train your team well, it should become a natural process that your patients not just expect, but love. Providing high value cosmetic treatments demands a high value level of customer service.

Questions I often ask practice owners and their teams who want to build their private lists and increase aesthetic provisions are: ‘Why would a patient choose private care and treatment only to receive an average level of customer service in a not particularly aesthetically pleasant practice?’ Also: ‘Apart from clinically and the cost, what is the difference in private treatment to perhaps as an NHS patient at your practice?’

So, ensure your practice looks nice and is comfortable for patients, and your team is on point to provide an outstanding customer service as well as clinical excellence.

Where do you start?

Ensure your reception team is skilled and experienced when answering queries, and monitors all enquiries and information captured.

All new enquiries should go through to the treatment coordinator (TCO), including email queries through any social media platforms. TCOs must have correct training and exceptional communication skills. Skills that can adapt to different patient types using emotional intelligence. If you want to get maximum benefit, you need to commit fully to the investment. Allow them the time to actually do it – it will pay off.

Offer patients a free consultation with the TCO, where information on treatments can be provided. Obviously, this is not specific, but sometimes a patient will ask for a certain solution, not realising there are other options.

We usually find a patient then books a consultation with one of our dentists. This can include general dentistry, implants, endo, perio, CDT services and ortho. We are very lucky in our practice as potentially everything can be done on site.

There needs to be a ‘handover’ on the day of the consultation – then it’s up to the dentist. We usually invite our patients back for a joint meeting in the TCO’s room with the TCO and dentist. Here they are presented their options, usually with a Powerpoint presentation, with pictures, digital images, and simulated end results, if possible. They have time to ask questions, and digest and decide which option they feel is most suited to them.

The benefits of this system are massive – not only for the patient, but also for consent purposes. Patients understand the solutions available, and the possible pros and cons of each. Also, the costs, with conversion rates that are consistently between 85% and 95% month on month.

Why, what and how?

Monitor your dentist conversions every month. Question if there is a dip, and look in to why, what and how. Look at the treatments that work for each of the different dentists, and adapt your marketing to meet the needs.

Again, I’m not saying it’s easy. It takes a whole team effort and agreement to stick to the process. You can’t have some members that embrace it and others that don’t – it will not work.

I don’t believe there is a one system to suit all and there are variables, but invest in the time as a team to come up with how you and your patients can benefit.

Remember it’s like a relay. The journey and expectations start from the moment the patient spots your services/advert/gets recommended by a friend. You won’t get off the starting line if the initial enquiry isn’t answered correctly.

This article first ran in Aesthetic Dentistry Today magazine.

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