The wow effect: elevating the patient experience

Tracie Barnett explains how treatment coordinators can make subtle tweaks to the patient experience to create that wow effect

Tracie Barnett explains how treatment coordinators (TCOs) can make subtle tweaks to the patient experience to create that wow effect.

As a dental practice, creating a welcoming and memorable experience for your patients is paramount, particularly considering the current cost of living crisis and the strain on NHS dental services.

In times of financial uncertainty, patients may be seeking not only quality care but also reassurance that their dental needs will be met without additional financial burden. 

By fostering a positive and compassionate environment, you can help alleviate concerns and build trust with your patients, ensuring they feel valued and supported amid these challenging circumstances.

Providing top-notch dental care is expected as standard these days. Beyond this, ensuring that your patients feel valued and comfortable from the moment they step into your practice can significantly enhance their satisfaction and loyalty.

We all know that we are expected to provide a certain level of care to our patients, this is the basics of dealing with the public. However, we must stand out from the crowd in today’s competitive market.

Let’s delve into some strategies to wow your dental patients, focusing on both customer service and material factors.

Customer service excellence

Warm greetings

Greet patients with genuine warmth and a friendly smile as soon as they enter the practice. A simple ‘Welcome, how can we help you today?’ can set a positive tone for the visit.

Avoid assuming that the person in front of you is attending an appointment, as this may not be the case. Asking ‘What name is it?’ if that patient is not attending an appointment doesn’t look great!

Personalised interactions

Once you have built a relationship with new patients, engage with them on a personal level by addressing them by name and asking about their day. This shows that you value them as individuals, not just as dental patients.

Adding notes to patient records to remember for next time will help build rapport. For example, if they mention they’re going on holiday to Hawaii in two months, remember to ask about this the next time you see them. 

Clear communication

Effective communication is key to patient satisfaction. Ensure that you communicate clearly and concisely, explaining procedures, treatment options and any associated costs in a way that patients can easily understand.

Patients are unable to make an informed choice if they do not have the relevant information needed. This also applies if they do not understand the options available or the process involved. Use clear communication to help your patient move forward as required.

Empathy and compassion

Dental visits can be stressful for some patients, so it’s crucial to show empathy and compassion. Listen attentively to their concerns and fears and reassure them with kindness and understanding.

Some patients need more hand holding and reassurance than others. Show your patient that you are approachable to ease their anxieties.

Follow-up care

Demonstrate your commitment to patient care by following up after appointments. A simple phone call or email to check on their progress or remind them of upcoming appointments can make a significant difference. Make sure your follow up system is robust and that all staff members are following the same protocol. 

Material factors enhancement

Comfortable waiting area

Create a welcoming and comfortable waiting area for your patients. Provide ample seating, reading material and soothing background music to help them relax before their appointment. Integrate flowers/plants to give a cosy feel. Soft lighting takes away the clinical aspect, giving more of a hotel/spa feel. 

Modern equipment and technology

Invest in state-of-the-art dental equipment and technology to enhance the patient experience. From digital X-rays to intraoral cameras, advanced tools not only improve diagnostic accuracy but also demonstrate your commitment to excellence. Most patients love digital dentistry, it shows you are moving with the times, but also often makes for a more efficient patient journey.

Clean and inviting environment

Maintain a clean and hygienic practice environment. A spotless reception area, tidy treatment rooms and fresh-smelling air contribute to a positive first impression and instil confidence in your patients.

You can use diffusers to remove the clinical aroma. Change the scent every few weeks so it remains fresh and potent. 

Patient amenities

Consider offering amenities such as complimentary beverages, Wi-Fi access and charging stations to enhance the comfort of your patients during their visit. If you offer a self-service refreshment station, make sure the area is kept clean and well stocked throughout the day. 

Educational resources

Provide educational materials such as brochures or videos that explain common dental procedures, oral hygiene tips, and preventive care measures. Empowering patients with knowledge can help alleviate anxiety and encourage proactive oral health habits.

By prioritising customer service excellence and enhancing material factors within your dental practice, you can create an environment that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of your patients. Remember, every interaction is an opportunity to leave an impression and build long-term relationships based on trust and satisfaction.

However, consistency is key. Make sure you are able to offer the same service to every patient, every time.

Read more Tricks and Tips from a TCO:

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