Five Important Things Patients Look for in a Dentist
What are patients looking for in a dentist? As a long-time patient I can assure you it doesn’t just come down to the practice’s proximity to their home. While it’s not an all-inclusive list, here are five important things patients look for in a dentist.
1. Do you have any social media presence?
Ah yes, social media. Pretty much everyone these days has a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr or LinkedIn account. While you certainly don’t need to have 50 social media sites for you or your practice, having an online presence goes a long way with potential patients. A patient’s first instinct when searching for a new dentist is putting the name of a dentist or practice into Google and hitting ‘enter.’
More so than anything else, a potential patient is looking for something similar to a Facebook link. There they can see pictures of the dental team, inside the practice’s office and maybe even some happy existing patients. Additionally, a potential patient can see the number of followers or “Likes” the page has. Of course, we know that a high number of “Likes” on Facebook may by no means be a measure of a dentist’s skill, however, to a potential patient the fact that a few hundred people have taken the time to “Like” a practice’s page goes a long way in influencing their choice. The bottom line is simple: A social media page for your practice heightens patients’ interests and makes you seem far more approachable than the dentist without an online presence.
2. Can a patient book an appointment online?
This is an easy one. Is it possible for a patient to schedule an appointment with you all through a web browser? Yes, a phone call is the quickest way to communicate between two parties (and this is coming from an iPad-wielding 22-year-old), but online communication is the new common practice. This is especially true when it comes to contacting a place they’re unfamiliar with. The ability to easily schedule an appointment online will draw in more patients who simply don’t want to make the call.
3. How does Saturday look for you?
What’s your weekend availability looking like? The majority of adults are working on a 9-5, Monday-Friday schedule while often juggling children’s schedules and aren’t in a position to get time off during the workweek for cleaning sessions or like procedures. Having Saturday availability not only allows the potential patient who’s locked into a 9-5 Monday-Friday work schedule the ability to visit your practice, but also shows them your dedication to all patients by offering some of your weekend for their convenience.
4. Are your tools high-tech?
What does the inside of your dental office look like? Are your tools on the cutting edge or from another generation? While the average patient probably doesn’t know the difference between an overhead halogen light from 2010 and the latest 100% LED model, the difference between digital x-rays and traditional film x-rays are pretty apparent. Most people between the ages of 18-35 are technology obsessed, and willing to pay $600 for the new, barely different iteration of the iPhone. You can bet they’ll be more likely to go to the more technologically-inclined dentist or practice.
5. Feeling friendly and welcoming?
This seems pretty obvious, right? Well this one, I feel is more important than any of the other tips, so it deserves to be reiterated. For most people, even something as routine and painless as a cleaning is incredibly stressful. Thankfully, something as small as giving them an honest smile, friendly banter, and even a joke or two can dispel the patient’s stress. Making a patient feel comfortable in your practice is the easiest way to keep them coming back.
There you have it. Whether a potential patient yearns for a social media presence, a tech-savvy dental office, or even just a smile and a joke, following these tips can help cover all bases and potentially bring more patients into your practice!