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31 Jul 2020 | Oral Hygiene

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Strategies that help patients turn up for their appointments

By Jayne Bandy

Practice Management

I am sure your appointment book needs a boost right now or it will very soon. When you make appointments for your patients and new patients, you want to do everything you can to keep patients in their appointments and going ahead with treatment.

But HOW do you do this?

Here are two strategies you can put into place right now.

Strategy #1. Setting up the appointment the right way!

When you're making the appointment on the phone or face to face with patients, you need to get a commitment from the patient. Your patients will be more committed to their appointment when they are clear about:

  • What will happen at the appointment;
  • What will happen if they delay seeing the dentist;
  • The appointment time and duration;
  • The fees where possible; and
  • Their appointment being confirmed.

When you make the appointment for the patient, you can now CONFIRM the appointment!

I often get dental teams concerned about using the word "confirmed" because they believe the patient will feel they can't change their appointment.

This is EXACTLY what you want to happen! You need to STOP using language at the time of making the appointment, that is enabling your patients to change or cancel their appointments.

Using the word "confirmed" at the time of making the appointment works. Patients start to see their appointment as permanent and definite.

Letting your patient know that their appointment is now confirmed is sending the message to your patient that this appointment is now firm and has been reserved for them and does not need to be changed.

I know there are exceptions and valid reasons why patients need to change their appointment, but we all know that most of the time the reasons are not valid and they can keep their appointment.

Let's start changing this.

Start Confirming Appointments not just making appointments or putting appointments in spots!

Strategy 2. Getting the courtesy call/message right!

Now that you're confirming the appointment when you make the appointment, you need to know what to say on the "courtesy call" which has now replaced the "confirmation call/message".

Because you have already confirmed the appointment, you're now going to let your patient know you are looking forward to seeing or meeting them at their appointment.

Avoid asking if they are still coming in for their appointment. Asking this question is sending the message that the appointment is fluffy and there is no commitment to keeping it.

Can you see how important it is to choose the right words when we are speaking with patients on this courtesy call or sending a message?

Once you start changing how you set up the appointment, confirm the appointment when you make it and replace the confirmation call or message with a courtesy call or message, you will see a big difference in the number of patients that turn up.

About the author

Jayne began her professional career as an educator. After spending several years in the education system, Jayne made the jump to dental practice management. Jayne served as a Practice Manager for a renowned dentist in Sydney for more than 25 years, having the opportunity to learn first-hand what works when it comes to building and maintaining patient relationships, how to convert leads over the phone and most importantly - what it takes to reach your practice goals. As the CEO and Founder of Dental Phone Excellence, Jayne strives to help practices convert more calls into appointments, reduce cancelled appointments and help nurture effective patient communication that will result in increased profitability for your practice. Her past experience as an educator combined with her passion for practice management gives her a unique set of skills that allows your team to fully understand and take advantage of the tools she presents.

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