Dayna: Front office team members ask me all the time “I feel like I am losing some of that personal touch with my patients now that we are using e-mail and text messaging for patient communication. How can I use this new technology and still feel like our patients are getting good customer service?”
Naomi: The reality is that technology can actually improve and expand on your team’s ability to communicate with patients, rather than diminish or depersonalize it. As always, it’s all about how you implement electronic communications in your practice. After all, you don’t have to impose a “one size fits all” approach to patient communication – instead, customize using the new tools you have at your fingertips.
Here’s an example. Does your practice have patients who have provided you with their email addresses, but you’re not sure whether they check their email weekly, let alone daily? One way of tailoring your communications could be calling these patients the first time you send them email appointment reminders, just to confirm that they received them, and even walking them through the online confirmation process. Chances are, they appreciate the convenience of email communications, and the personal phone call on the front end shows them that you care enough to help them understand how the practice’s new online confirmation process works.
Giving patients the ability to “opt out” of electronic communication is also critical. Some people will never grow out of needing to be sent a recall postcard the old-fashioned way. But don’t assume that someone’s age determines their technology-savvy; the fastest growing group of internet users today are 65 and older!
Finally, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the appointment reminder process is the only place to personalize the patient experience. At the end of the day, if you’re still fretting about the rise of technology and the demise of the personal touch in your practice, consider the time and expense involved every time you make ten appointment confirmation calls, mail out a batch of recall cards or assemble a paper newsletter. Using technology to automate these processes can eliminate hours of busywork each week, freeing up the front desk to take part in other truly personal communications, like sending handwritten thank you notes to patients who refer, interacting with patients via social media, spending more time with patients (and prospective patients) on the phone and speaking with patients face to face!
Naomi Cooper is President of Minoa Marketing, a dental marketing and social media consultancy based in Los Angeles, CA and serves as Chief Marketing Consultant for Pride Institute. She has over fifteen years of marketing experience – and a ten-year track record of enabling dental practices and dental companies to achieve their marketing goals. Naomi is also a published author, a sought-after speaker and an industry opinion leader. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.