Ready for a “blow their socks off” strategy to make sure patients show up for appointments? I hope so, because let’s face it, flaky patients cause cavities… in our schedule!
“I NEED TO CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT TOMORROW”
The problem? Patients don’t typically understand or value their appointment time. They envision our schedule as a wide open window of endless opportunity: “What’s the big deal if I cancel? Can’t you just move me to next Tuesday?” They don’t know the practice’s schedule is planned and detailed well in advance. They don’t realize every unit of time is precious. It doesn’t occur to them that sudden cancellations or no-shows can unravel a day of tight production. Even worse, they might get frustrated or angry when they hear another appointment won’t be available for weeks.
RADICAL IDEA TIME!
Even if you’re sending reminders and making confirmation calls, I’m going to suggest you take this confirmation process a step further: Have the doctor make a “pre-appointment call”. Don’t freak out, doc! I’m not suggesting you call every prophy coming in tomorrow. Just take a couple minutes to reach out to high production patients due the next day. While administrators and hygienists are typically loved by your patients, they’re also a familiar voice. A quick call from the doctor will be unexpected, and a big deal to them. It can also make the difference between successful treatment and a failed appointment.
HOW TO SAY IT: The doctor’s pre-appointment call should be short and sweet:
“Hello Mrs. (patient), it’s Doctor ________. I’m just calling to check in on you. I’m looking forward to seeing tomorrow.I wanted to make sure you don’t have any questions before we get started tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to seeing you!”
MINIMAL EFFORT, MAXIMUM REWARD
These few minutes you spend reaching out will be a lasting, meaningful gesture for patients. Among the added benefits and assurances:
- It builds value for the appointment — patients rarely cancel on the doctor!
- Hearing directly from the doctor calms and reassures a nervous patient
- It allows uncertain patients to ask any last-minute clinical questions
- Your patients will always remember (and talk about!) the doctor who cared enough to call, and is “thinking about them.”
Remember, the benefits of a system like this go beyond filling the schedule tomorrow. Next time that patient is asked, “who is your dentist,” they’re likely to answer, “My dentist is awesome…even calls to check in!”
It’s hard to place a value on those positive reviews and referrals, so start making those calls today!