Wondering how to get your patients coming, and you’re stuck on the way forward? These 10 patient retention strategies for dentists can help.
You’ll be making huge mistakes if you don’t have a patient strategy for your dental practice.
With competition becoming fiercer and customer acquisition costs on the rise, finding ways to get more value from existing patients is your best bet to ensure steady revenue and stay above the water.
Thankfully, there are several things that you can do to improve patient retention, and in this blog post, we will discuss 10 of the most effective strategies.
So, let’s begin!
Table of Contents
What is a Patient Retention Strategy?
A patient retention strategy is an actionable plan that helps dentists to keep their patients coming back.
It involves understanding and meeting their needs and expectations. A retention strategy is essential because it costs less to keep a customer than it does to acquire a new one.
Additionally, loyal customers are more likely to spend more money with you and recommend your clinic to their friends and families.
Recommended For You: Gain powerful, actionable on-page optimization insights with Surfer SEO to outrank your competitors and dominate the organic competition.
Top 10 Patient Retention Strategies for Dentists
Here are our top ten favorite strategies for retaining patients.
1. Set clear expectations
Dentists are often tempted to over-promise.
For some dentists, especially those new in the business, it’s their default strategy to differentiate from the competition. While this might get them patients, it’s not usually enough to keep them. It could also hurt the brand’s reputation, making it more challenging to attract new patients.
So, it’s always advisable to set clear expectations from day one.
It helps patients know what they are paying for and what to expect from you. It also makes it easier to evaluate your services against the competitors.
Craft a compelling value proposition, focusing on the core benefits. The aim is to avoid overwhelming prospects with too many benefits. Now provide supplementary benefits as part of the service to woah them and exceed their expectations.
Patients will come back when they feel that they are getting more value for their money.
2. Put patients first
Here is a story of why you should always prioritize your customers.
It’s no doubt that Amazon has demystified eCommerce. Jeff Bezos probably thought he could transfer this magic into the smartphone market. So, he set out to build the Fire Phone, a smart device that promises to revolutionize how people shop online.
He might have succeeded if he had built this device for his customers.
But he didn’t. Instead, he built what he wanted. According to a member of the development team:
“We poured surreal amounts of money into developing it (Dynamic Perspective, one of the phone’s features), yet we all thought it had no value for the customer, which was the biggest irony. Whenever anyone asked why we were doing this, the answer was, ‘Because Jeff wants it.” [Source]
Jeff learned the hard way.
The Fire phone received a dismal 2.6 out of 5-star rating within two months of its release. The company responded to the disappointing sales by slashing the price from $200 to 99 cents. Additionally, Amazon took a $170 million write-down due to unsold inventory.
So, don’t make the same mistake as Jeff. Instead, create a patient-first culture and make excellent customer service a dominant part of your organizational culture.
Also, don’t forget to create a patient-friendly clinic environment.
Begin by using the right painting and lighting to create a welcoming ambiance. Additionally, craft a transparency policy and communicate this clearly to your patients. You could also benefit from having privacy and refund policies.
3. Schedule their next appointment
Don’t always think that patients will remember their next appointment.
Because they won’t—at least one-third of them. A study found that about 37.8 percent of patients forget, do not know, or receive no reminder call about their appointment.
So don’t leave things to chance. Take proactive steps to ensure patients keep their appointments.
Your best bet is to schedule their next appointment before they leave the clinic. It ensures you don’t worry about patients forgetting or neglecting to book their appointments. This helps you maintain continuity in care, improving your patient retention rate.
4. Run a customer loyalty program
Loyalty programs are one of the age-long secrets of customer retention.
Over 90 percent of companies currently run this program. And you’ll need one if you are serious about retaining your patient. About 83 percent of consumers admitted that belonging to a loyalty program influences their decisions to buy again from a brand.
Also, a study found that 84 percent of consumers are more likely to stick with a brand that offers a loyalty program. Additionally, members of these programs generate 12 to 18 percent more incremental revenue growth per year than non-members.
So, making a patient loyalty program a part of your retention strategy is a no-brainer.
Of course, there are several ways you can implement this.
We recommend offering points for completed transactions and referrals, redeemable for free care or discounts. Also, provide monthly subscription services to drive repeat businesses.
5. Upsell and cross-sell patients
You’ll be leaving a lot of dollars on the table if you don’t leverage these tactics.
Sadly, several dental clinics don’t. But, you shouldn’t
Upselling is encouraging customers to buy a more expensive product or service. It could be as simple as offering discounts on higher-priced items, highlighting the benefits of more expensive products, or simply asking patients if they would like to upgrade.
Conversely, cross-selling involves selling additional products or services to existing customers.
For example, if a customer already paid for a deep dental cleaning service, you can cross-sell them cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening, dental restorations, or implants to enhance their appearance.
Perfecting these two can help you get more from your patients.
For a starter, educate your team on the importance of upselling and cross-selling patients. Next, specify what to upsell and cross-sell for each of your services and products. Also, define the right condition and wait time to upsell or cross-sell patients.
6. Offer discounts
Discounts are another effective customer retention strategy.
And one of the most popular. Offering the right discounts can provide enough incentives for patients to return. They also dissuade people from shopping around or exploring other options.
You can offer discounts in a variety of ways, such as coupons, loyalty programs, and referral programs.
Follow these tips to use discounts effectively:
- Make sure the discounts are relevant to your target audience.
- Offer discounts that are significant enough to make a difference.
- Communicate your discounts effectively so that customers know about them.
- Track the results of your discounts so that you can see how well they are performing.
Here are situations you might want to offer discounts:
- Appreciate your most active patients with discounts.
- Offer discounts to old patients to drive return visits.
- Give discounts to first-timers to build a positive experience.
- Encourage active patients to refer their friends with discounts.
- Reinforce your upsells and cross-sell with discounts to make them more effective.
- Provide discounts during shopping holidays, like Black Friday and Christmas to join the trend.
- Sell more of your services with a tiered monthly subscription.
- Clear slow slow-moving dental care products with huge discounts.
- Encourage web visitors to convert with discounts.
7. Leverage retargeting ads
The average website conversion rate is between two and five percent.
So businesses typically leave up to 95 percent of their potential revenue on the table. And this amounts to a huge sum when you translate it to dollars. But there are things you can do to salvage the situation.
And that’s where retargeting ads come in.
Facebook is our favorite retargeting channel. Our reasons are in these numbers:
- Facebook has nearly three billion monthly active users.
- About 88 percent of the social media users access the platform via mobile devices.
- Facebookers spend about 57 minutes daily on the social network
- Facebook ads can reach up to 2.11 billion people worldwide.
- Facebook users click on 12 ads on average every month.
We have written extensively on the top Facebook targeting ideas for dentists. Use the resource to plan your retargeting campaigns to convert more of your customers.
Below are our eight favorite retargeting audiences to scale your revenue.
- Locals interested in oral care
- Senior citizens
- Non-converting website visitors
- Inactive customers
- Most active patients
- Dental insurance holders
- Recent home buyers
- New movers
8. Use social proof
A new website visitor is likely to have researched other competitors and may continue to do so.
They will not stick with you if you are not compelling enough. Your best bet is to demonstrate to them that other people find you valuable. And social proof can help you with that.
“Social proof is a psychological concept that suggests that people are often influenced by decisions made by others. It’s driven by people’s desire to belong or act within societal norms and expectations.”
Using it well can help you gain patients’ trust and trigger fear of missing out.
Studies found that 60 percent of people purchase things due to FOMO. and 69 percent of millennials overspend to keep up with peers and avoid fear of missing out.
Here are some social proof to make your offerings more compelling:
- Embed customer reviews and ratings on your website.
- Share video testimonials.
- Build thought leadership with valuable content.
- Use industry-issued badges and stamps.
- Leverage influencers
Check out our complete social proof guide for dentists to learn how they can help boost your conversion rate.
9. Follow-up calls
It’s a huge mistake not to follow up with patients.
The reason is only about two percent of sales are made from the initial contact. So you’ll be missing a staggering 98 percent of your potential sales if you don’t do that.
Sadly, several salespersons ignore this, while 44 percent give up after the first attempt. However, a study found that 80 percent of customers say no four times before they say yes.
We recommend leveraging several channels like phone calls, SMS, emails, and social media for follow-ups. Also, give them a breathing space between each follow-up so that you don’t overwhelm them.
Additionally, the first follow-up after the initial contact should be within an hour.
Those who do have seven times more chances to have meaningful discussions with the prospect than those who don’t. So, the key to unlocking patients is a fast follow-up.
These tips can also help you make the most of follow-ups:
- Understand patients’ pain points.
- Centre your conversation around those problems.
- Provide value with each follow-up.
- Define the next step.
- Keep your conversations brief.
- Know when to stop.
10. Offer flexible payments
Making it easier for patients to afford your services can significantly lower your bounce rate.
We recommend offering flexible payments as it makes your dental services more accessible to potential patients, boosting your conversion rate. It also helps you improve customer satisfaction, build brand loyalty, and boost cash flow by spreading out payments over time.
There are several ways you can do this, but our favorite options are:
- Interest-free financing
- Pay-in-4 plans
- Buy now, pay later options
- Installment plans
However, when choosing which type of flexible payment option to offer, it’s important to consider your target market and their needs. Also, factor in the cost of offering flexible payments and how it will impact your bottom line.
Need to outrank competitors? Get hundreds of quality backlinks to boost domain authority, generate referral traffic, and get ahead of the competition.
How to Measure Your Retention Strategy Effectiveness
Collect this data to measure the effectiveness of your patient’s retention strategies:
Website returning visits
The number of returning people on your websites can tell you how well you’re retaining patients. It’s one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on. Set up Google Analytics to track this data for your website.
Referral traffic shows you the number of your website visitors that come from other websites. It does not directly track your retention strategy. But could give you insights into how others are pushing your brand messages, which could signal how happy your patients are to spread the word about your practice.
Returning visits conversion rate
How many of those returning patients converted again? That’s what matters and can give you a better insight into how your retention strategy performs. Use Google Analytics to track this number for your website and manually for in-office visits.
Active patients’ share of revenue
Track your active patients’ share of revenue to learn how your retention strategy impacts your revenue.
First, segment patients who have visited your clinic at least twice. Next, calculate the amount of revenue generated from this segment. Now, calculate the percentage from your total revenue. Do this for different periods to see the effect of your strategy over time.
Revenue from referrals
Referrals are those who visit your clinic due to recommendations from your existing patients.
It’s important to have this data as it can provide insights into your patients’ satisfaction and how far they can contribute to your growth. However, collecting this data is not enough. Also, calculate their share of revenues to see what comes in from this channel.
Our Recommended Tools and Their Use Cases
Use these tools to power your patients’ retention strategy:
This tool allows you to connect multiple apps, bringing all your tech stack in one place.
It lets you automate your processes, enabling you to eliminate repetitive tasks. Use Zapier to integrate Collect Chat to Facebook Ads so you can retarget them with personalized ads. We also recommend connecting Collect Chat and Omnisend to facilitate omnichannel marketing campaigns.
Facebook is our favorite retargeting ad channel.
It has over four billion active monthly users, which means you can easily reach anyone. We recommend running personalized custom audience ad campaigns to reach patients who visited your website but didn’t convert and your Collect Chat leads.
This tool lets you build and deploy conversational chatbots.
You can build any type of chatbot with the drag-and-drop feature, including appointment, customer survey, customer service, and lead generation bots. However, we recommend designing a lead-generation chatbot and embedding it on your high-traffic web pages.
It helps you quickly generate leads as visitors interact with your website.
Use Sendible to manage your social media and engage your audience like a pro.
The tool lets you connect all your accounts in one place, schedule posts, and generate insightful reports. It can also connect seamlessly with WordPress, streamlining content creation. Sendible comes with a content suggestion capability so you’ll never run out of ideas.
Use Trust Index to leverage social proof.
It lets you embed any type of review on your website, including Google, Yelp, Trust Pilot, Amazon, and others. The tool also integrates with Collect Chat, allowing you to effortlessly reply to reviews from a single dashboard.
Klanar is our recommended tool for flexible payment options.
It lets users buy now and pay later. Use this tool to provide financing plans to patients. The solution currently has over 150 million shoppers and 500,000 businesses, facilitating two million daily transactions. Leading brands like Adidas, Sephora, and Macy’s use it.
Use Loyal Zoo to run customer loyalty and reward programs.
It promises to help get more from your customers and increase revenue by 14 percent. Use the seven-day free trial to find out if it’s right for you.
Gain actionable insights to streamline site navigation with this tool.
It tracks your web visitors’ mouse movements, generating heatmaps and session recordings of their browsing behavior. This lets you identify and eliminate frictions and improve user experience, which is essential for driving return web visits.
We recommend this tool for running social contests.
They can help you boost brand engagement, trigger emotional connection, and build patient loyalty. The software supports over 100 integrations and more than 45,000 businesses use it.
Several brands use Omnisend for email marketing.
But we prefer using it for multichannel marketing campaigns. It lets us design campaigns that reach prospects simultaneously on their preferred communication channels, including, email, SMS, and WhatsApp. Check out our WhatsApp marketing resource for how to leverage this tool.
Recommended Post: Backlink SEO Strategy: How to Build Quality External Links
Dental Practice Retention Strategy Checklist
Use this checklist to plan and execute an effective retention strategy for your dental clinic:
Planning and strategy
- Specify your patient retention goals
- Create a compelling value proposition.
- Focus on your core benefits.
- Design an organizational culture that puts patients first.
- Create a patient retention training manual
- Design a patient-friendly and comfortable office space.
- Take your team through the training program.
- Automate patients’ next appointment scheduling
- Design a loyalty program
- Implement an upselling and cross-selling system
- Set up retargeting ads
- Design your website to include compelling social proof
- Set up a follow-up system
- Write your follow-up call scripts
- Specify the metrics to track
- Set up your tracking and data collection tools
- Periodically review returns
- Improve performance with reporting insights
Final Thoughts On Dental Patients Retention Strategy
A dental patient retention strategy is essential for any dental practice that wants to succeed. By following the tips in this blog post, you can create a strategy that will keep your patients coming back and happy.
Here are a few key points to remember:
- Provide excellent customer service.
- Offer flexible payment options.
- Run loyalty programs.
- Leverage social proof.
- Use influencers.
- Offer discounts.
- Follow up with patients.
Additionally, check out our dental practice marketing guide to learn our favorite strategies for growing a dental practice. It also contains our dental SEO secrets to get ahead of the competition.
Hand-Picked For You:
- FAQs: How to Start a Business In 2023
- FAQs: How to Grow Your Business In 2023
- FAQs: How to Fund Your Business In 2023
- Top Small Business Challenges and How to Navigate Them
- How to Rank On the Google First Page
- Backlink SEO Strategy: How to Build Quality External Links
- How to Grow Your Business In 2023
- How We Made Six Figures In 21 Days Just Sending Emails
Does my dental office need a retention strategy?
Yes, your dental practice, like every other one, needs a patient retention strategy.
It’s about five to 25 times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. Also, approximately 65 percent of an average business’ revenue comes from existing customers. So, a retention strategy doesn’t only help you lower your acquisition cost but can scale your revenue.
How do I measure the effectiveness of my patient retention strategy?
There are several ways you can measure your dental practice’s patient retention strategy.
However, tracking the revenue from existing customers provides you with the best insights. You might also want to keep an eye on your returning website traffic. Also, monitor the conversion rate for the return visits.
How do I increase dental patient retention?
The best way to increase the retention rate is to exceed patients’ expectations.
You can achieve this by providing excellent customer service. Other ways to boost your patient retention numbers are to offer flexible payment options, run loyalty programs, and leverage social proof, like sharing stories of happy patients. Also, use influencers, offer discounts, and follow up with patients.
How can I make my patients happy?
Providing excellent customer service is the most straightforward way to make patients happy.
Additionally, make your clinic patient-friendly, appreciate active patients with personalized gifts and exclusive discounts, and offer them valuable D.I.Y tips. Social contests and competitions are also effective for connecting patients emotionally to your brand.