No matter what type of practice you run, the future of your practice depends on the experience patients receive when interacting with you and your team.

With consistently positive experiences, patients will be more likely to refer their friends. They’ll be more likely to leave an online review. They’ll be more likely to trust your treatment plans. They’ll be much happier in the office. The immediate benefits of consistently positive experiences for your patients go on and on.

But the indirect benefits of a positive experience are where the big practice growth occurs. All those referrals lead to free new patients. All those reviews lead to more effective online marketing. The higher case acceptance leads to you being able to be more strategic with the type of patient you target with your dental marketing because your existing patients stick around longer. You don’t have to constantly attract new patients to keep your schedule busy. You have the benefit of time.

When it comes to patient experience, it’s often the little things that matter most. Here are three little things you can do to improve patient experience.

Greet each patient with a positive, welcoming greeting in every setting.

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. That’s why it’s so important to have the right team members greet your patients.

On the phone or in your office, greeting patients with a positive, welcoming greeting sets up every conversation on a positive note.

Consider having team members who enjoy welcoming patients be your phone and front desk staff. Then train them on exactly how you want each patient to be greeted. That friendly welcome will go a long way.

Address negative feedback with a positive response.

No matter how much you try, it’s impossible to avoid the dreaded one-star reviews or negative feedback. Oftentimes, patients complain because of things that are out of your control, such as the insurance you accept or whether you accept insurance at all. Other times, they complain because of mistakes you made. It happens.

If a patient complains on the phone, in your office, or through a dreaded one-star review, avoid the urge to escalate the conversation or be confrontational. How you respond to negativity is often more important than what happened to get the patient upset. 

And with negative online reviews, consider contacting the patient directly and taking the conversation offline. Sometimes you can resolve the issue offline and the patient will update their review. If you do choose to reply, remember that your response is more for the benefit of other patients and not for the upset patient. Ask yourself whether other patients will be more or less likely to want to be your patient if they see how you respond to the criticism. And don’t forget about HIPAA when you reply. Way too many dentists have run afoul of the rules in their replies to negative reviews.

Pay attention to all of your patients’ senses.

Many patients associate dental experiences with pain and anxiety. You can help those patients improve their perception of dentistry by creating calm, consistent experiences for them. Avoiding harsh scents, creating a calming atmosphere, and avoiding noisy interruptions during treatment can go a long way to helping reduce patient anxiety.

For example, with many busy practices, phones consistently ring, equipment makes noises, and people are consistently chatting. Reducing these three interruptions can create a much better experience for patients with anxiety.

Unlike many voice providers that use simultaneous rings and a simple notification of an incoming call, our partner, Mango Voice’s dental office communication system allows you to customize ringing events so you can give your patients a better operatory experience.

When a call comes in to the general number, only the front desk phones receive a ringing event. No more ringing in hallways or near operatories. You’ve put in way too much effort to create a peaceful environment for your patients for your phone to startle patients and heighten their anxiety.

Are the “little things” in your practice limiting your practice growth?

Patient experience can make or break a dental practice. Do it well and your future will be bright. Do it poorly and you can lose patients or even get dreaded one-star reviews.

It’s often the little things that make or break your patient’s experience. These three tips are easy ways to immediately boost patient experience. A simple greeting, a positive response, and dental phones that can save you hundreds of dollars a month and immediately boost patient experience (and more!) is all you need to get started.