Internal marketing is a powerful strategy. However, for most dentists this effective marketing tool remains underdeveloped. Internal marketing is more than you asking patients to refer their friends and family it involves the entire dental office team. Your dental team is the face of your practice. Your patients’ perception of who you are and what you represent starts before you ever meet a patient.
Creating an environment in which your dental staff genuinely cares about your patients’ satisfaction is an important step in growing your practice. Share the business’s mission statement with your employees, and work to establish a sense of camaraderie within the practice. Employees who are made to feel as though they are an integral part of the business are more likely to take a vested interest in helping the practice succeed.
Set up incentives or bonuses for staff members who go above and beyond expectations. Employees who recruit new patients or score high on patient surveys should be recognized. Selecting an employee of the month or hosting quarterly office parties will help to keep staff focused on a tangible goal. Performance-based incentives create accountability and responsibility.
Internal marketing begins prior to a patient entering the dental office. Potential patients make assumptions based on their initial telephone call or email correspondence with your office. How a patient is greeted on the phone and how prompt their email is answered are major factors in whether the potential patient will become a patient of record. Likewise, patients should be greeted professionally and promptly upon entering the dental office. Providing a welcoming and calm environment establishes the tone for the remainder of the visit, as well as your ongoing relationship.
Since dentistry is service driven, your employees should know how to provide exceptional customer service; you have to train your team on the level of service you expect by providing specific examples. Construct clear guidelines on how your staff should interact with patients at every level. Provide scripts of what hygienists and assistants should say to patients before, during, and after treatment. If a dental practice “caters to cowards”, the entire staff should be using verbiage that reflects this initiative. Provide office standards of quality so that your team members will understand what is expected of them.
All dentists know that referrals are crucial to continued growth in their practice. Educate staff on the importance of maintaining superior customer service that invites referrals from existing patients. Establishing an interpersonal relationship with each patient and letting them know their referrals are valued will speak louder than any referral card placed at the check-out counter.
Maintaining communication with patients after they have left the office is imperative for retention. Communicating with patients every three to six months with check-up reminder cards is risky. Emails and patient newsletters allow dental practices to routinely tell patients about new technology or services. This keeps the dental practice at the forefront of the patient’s mind, while being informative and educational. You want your practice to be the first idea in a patient’s head when someone asks, “Do you know a good dentist in the area?”
Leading patients to your online presence is another great way to maintain loyalty. Dental websites that feature patient education in the way of blogs continue the interpersonal relationship outside of the dental office. A practice’s social media presence can promote new products and services, feature staff members, or announce specials and discounts.
Though they aren’t allowed in every state, incentives for patients who refer new patients are another way to develop the interpersonal relationship. Discounts, credits, or gift cards will encourage patients to remain loyal and tell others about your dental practice.
Every Patient Counts
Internal marketing is a team effort. From the front office to the back office, every employee should collaborate to provide excellent service to every patient. Maintaining customer loyalty and increasing referrals should be the priority of everyone.
Identiwrite Creative offers dental websites, SEO, and content marketing. We would love to maximize your marketing efforts, so call us for a free website consultation. We have years of experience in dental marketing. Give us a call today to see how Identiwrite Creative can improve your internal marketing strategy and increase your new patient numbers.