Happy Patients, Happy Practice: 9 Tips to Increase Patient Retention

Updated on October 13, 2020
Smiling mother and her little son visiting dentist

Never ask a dentist if he needs new patients. Every doctor or dentist everywhere thinks new patients are the answer to keeping a practice afloat.

After all, it’s the patient volume that keeps a practice going right? Wrong.

It’s important to focus on patient retention to boost your success. Without it, you’ll risk losing money over time. Here are 9 tips to increase patient retention. 

Make Conversation

Treating patients like people is a small thing that goes a very long way. Unfortunately, things often go wrong long before the patient makes it to you.

Your team of front desk staff has to be the right people for the job. Organizational skills are great, but if patients are processed through the front lobby like sheep, customers won’t feel appreciated. 

Greet every patient with a smile. If you have a small practice, make it a habit to greet customers and ask about their families or work. 

Getting to know patients goes a long way in treating them with respect.  

Train Your Team

Conflict resolution doesn’t come naturally for everyone. It’s a good idea to teach your staff the art of the ‘patient is always right.’ 

Even when the patients bring unreasonable expectations to a dispute, it doesn’t mean it’s worth sacrificing the entire relationship. One disagreement costs little, but losing a patient for life costs you a lot.

Your staff might not see the business value, but they can be trained to keep the damage at a minimum. 

Appreciate Your Team

A team that feels appreciated is going to behave friendlier toward guests. Tired, overworked employees don’t have the bandwidth to offer quality service. 

Make sure you show your team you appreciate them with recognition on their birthdays. Try a company retreat at a nearby cabin or amusement park.

Some companies even take their employees on cruises or other vacations as a tax write off. You’ll promote goodwill that extends to your patients. 

Have Fun

The novelty of themed events and special guests in your office is a great way to create a fun culture. It engages both patients and staff into a more lighthearted atmosphere.

There’s no such thing as having too much fun at work. Think of the opportunity you have to turn everyone’s day around with a good laugh.

Also, your creativity stands out from your competitors. A comedian in the waiting room or a balloon artist handing out hats is both a great way to promote goodwill and keep patients coming back. 

Follow Up

A simple call to a patient you haven’t seen in a long time goes a long way. Schedule follow up calls to patients that require appointments or who are overdue.

But you can also check in with patients just to see how they’re doing. Calls around patient birthdays or the holidays show them you’re a part of their extended ‘family.’ 

You never know who’s celebrating the holidays alone. Your call could make a huge impact on the life of a patient creating a lifelong customer. Your practice manager can see here data collection options to keep you in the know. 

Ask for Referrals

Ask for referrals to new patients. But don’t ask the patient to do the work for you.

Ask them to give you the names of friends and family who are in the market for a new dentist or doctor. Use their information to call or email the person to introduce your practice.

This method is better than cold calling because you can offer their friend by name. Even if they’re not ready to make an appointment right away, keep in touch with them as if they were a regular patient.

Avoid being too pushy with getting them to come in. Instead, check on them like an old friend getting to know their family and interests where possible.

You can ask for referrals from them occasionally to keep your practice present in their mind. You don’t want to get too sidetracked and have them forget the reason for your relationship.

Host Raffles

One great thing about having a practice with rotating patients is that you don’t have to worry about volume for a raffle. Your incoming patients can be instantly entered into a monthly raffle each time they visit.

Announce raffle winners on your website or social media channels to encourage traffic. You get the dual benefit of marketing your patient love and growing your audience of followers. 

Good prizes keep the interest of patients since they’ll feel appreciated and respected. Give away the best children’s book or a restaurant gift card to a five star rated place. 

Get Feedback

If you notice a patient’s dropping off the face of the earth despite your best efforts, it’s time to gather some intelligence. Most people aren’t shy about offering their opinions.

But if you feel it’s necessary you can add an option for confidential feedback online or in your office. If you notice a patient refuses to take you to follow up calls, try emailing with a one-question survey to learn what you can do to win back your business.

This is key when trying to understand what works and what doesn’t with your practice. 

Keep Up with Technology

Some practices are a chore for patients to deal with because they’re behind in technology. Making an appointment means waiting on hold just to have calls accidentally dropped or a website that won’t load because of poor bandwidth.

You can avoid all this by making sure you’re using cutting edge technology where ever you can afford it. Technology is the key to convenience in an ever-changing world.

Patient Retention for the Future

You won’t increase patient retention by staying in the dark ages when it comes to managing your relationships. You need strong technology that can handle patients on mobile devices and online.

Make sure your team offers a warm welcome with each patient visit so they won’t want to leave. For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates. 

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.