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Dental Internal Marketing Systems - The Follow-Up

Jun 20, 2008
I receive a lot of questions; people asking me what kind of follow up systems I recommend. Today, I figured I would cover a couple of ways to follow up with those patients that scheduled, as well as those new callers that may not have scheduled.

First things first... You cannot follow up with people if you do not collect their name, address, and phone number! This is very important. Even if the caller does not appoint, collect all of their information. This will let you follow up with them to see if their needs have changed.

Also, I don't know what it is, but I even talk to practices that don't even collect address and phone information when a new patient appoints, they wait until the patient actually shows up in the office. This is practice suicide. This also leads to many no shows.

That being said, there are many ways to follow up with both those patients that schedule, and those that do not. I will break them down into those two categories.

For patients that schedule...

Immediately send them a reminder card. Something for them to hold in their hand. A simple 'Thank You' card that says "Thanks for calling and scheduling an appointment on Wednesday, July 16th at 3pm. We look forward to seeing you then." And make sure to personally sign it.

Have a letter from you go out with all the new patient forms. The letter from the doctor should say something to the effect of "Thank you for appointing, we realize that you have a lot of dental care options and we are glad you chose us. I have enclosed our new patient forms for you to fill out and bring to your first appointment; this will ensure we get you in on time." The doctor needs to sign it in blue ink. This is a very important step. Blue ink shows that the signature is not a photocopy, and the doctor has actually taken time out of his or her day to sign the letter. Also, hand address these envelopes!

In addition, the day before the appointment, call the patient and remind/confirm their appointment. This is a simple step that will decrease no-shows quite a bit. Your office staff should do this, not you.

Remember, all of these follow up methods rely on getting the patient's name, address, and phone number. Failure to get any of this will eliminate at least one of these follow up methods, if not all chances for follow up.

For a new-caller that does not appoint...

If the caller chooses not to appoint, before the call ends, add this line, "you can visit us at www. your-website-here . com for more information."

Also, immediately send them a thank you card (handwritten and signed) that says "Thank you for calling us, we realize that you have many dental options, and we would be privileged to have you in our practice." Or something similar.

If the patient asks a question about whitening, send them a ZOOM brochure, with a short handwritten note.

Once again, the above options all depend on collecting the name, address, and phone number of the caller.

These are just a few of the methods available to follow up with patients and new callers, but there are plenty more. Get creative. Remember, human nature follows the rule of reciprocity, meaning, if you do something for them, they feel compelled to do something for you. Whether that is showing up for their appointment, or calling back to schedule an appointment. The more creative and thoughtful you are, the more rewards you will reap.

Action-To-Take Tip: Talk to your staff-members, perhaps during your next group meeting, about how to get all of the necessary information from every single person that calls your practice. If necessary, develop a script to guide those that answer the phone in getting this information. And, emphasize the importance of getting names, phones numbers, and addresses from EVERY person that calls the office, whether they appoint or not.
About the Author
James Erickson is the President of EMC Dental Marketing which gives Dentists a resource for turn-key dental marketing programs and dental practice marketing education including new patient attraction, and internal marketing systems. Visit www.EMCdental.com and get a free practice
building kit sent directly to your home or office.
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