11 Effective Dental Patient Retention Strategies to Improve Your Practice

Mia Jensen | Mar 7, 2023 | 20 min read
11 Dental Patient Retention Strategies to Improve Your Practice

Are you tired of losing patients to your competitors? Do you want to improve patient loyalty and retain them long-term?

In this blog post, you will learn tips that will help you keep your current patients and attract new ones. You will also learn the following:

  • Why is patient retention important?
  • Statistics to prove patient retention is more vital than patient acquisition
  • 11 effective dental patient retention strategies

This comprehensive guide on dental retention strategies will position you as a leader in the crowded dental market.

Take notes, grab some paper, and prepare to revolutionize your dental practice!

Why Patient Retention Strategies Important?

Your past patients are a valuable resource for your practice. Building strong relationships with them is essential to keep them coming back.

Unfortunately, many dental practices overlook patient retention and pour their marketing budget into attracting new ones. The constant pursuit of growth can overshadow the importance of retaining current patients.

Patient Retention Strategies Source: Ted Geoff

Patient retention is crucial for the success of your dental practice. But don’t just take our word for it — the numbers don’t lie.

Check out the patient retention and acquisition statistics to see the real difference between the two.

Investing in patient retention strategies improves satisfaction and devotion. It also brings in more revenue and growth for the practice in the long run.

11 Best Strategies to Retain Dental Patients

  1. Self-scheduling
  2. Putting patients first
  3. Schedule the next appointment before patients leave your office
  4. Be proactive about follow-up appointments
  5. Offer flexible payment methods to patients
  6. Personalized customer service to build strong patient relationships
  7. Implement patient loyalty programs
  8. Building a Strong online presence
  9. Provide Patient-centered care
  10. Incorporate the latest technology to boost patient retention
  11. Maintain a clean and welcoming office environment

1. Self-Scheduling

Let’s admit patients don’t like calling your dental office to schedule appointments. The best alternative solution is self-scheduling. It is a key component of a successful dental retention strategy.

DemandHub’s online scheduling software allows your patients to schedule appointments directly from your website. It provides them with a convenient and efficient way to take control of their dental care.

Self Scheduling

DemandHub’s text messaging technology makes the process even easier. It allows your patients to make online bookings or appointment requests on the go, saving them time. It also builds trust and loyalty as they appreciate the control and flexibility that self-scheduling provides.

Streamlining the appointment process can also free up valuable time for your staff, allowing them to focus on providing high-quality dental care. Self-scheduling is a simple yet practical way to enhance dental retention and keep your patients returning for years.

2. Putting Patients First

A dentist’s time is valuable, as is everyone’s in the office. But patients appreciate having one-on-one time with the dentist to discuss their concerns and receive personalized attention.

Neglecting this opportunity can give the impression that the patient is not as important as the next person.

Putting Patients First

Make an effort to provide your patients with a few uninterrupted minutes of face-to-face time, free from distractions or interruptions. Even if the patient doesn’t have an appointment with the dentist, schedule a brief visit for the doctor to say hello to them and offer a personal touch.

3. Schedule The Next Appointment Before Patients Leave Your Office

One effective way to ensure your patients return for their next appointment is to schedule it before they leave your dental office.

Studies show that 37.6% of patients forget, do not know, or receive no reminder call about their appointment. This fact makes it even more important to take proactive steps to secure their return visit.

It saves patients time and effort to schedule a future appointment and reinforces the importance of regular dental check-ups and follow-up appointments.

By scheduling the next appointment during the current visit, you also eliminate the risk of your patient forgetting or neglecting to schedule a future appointment.

Once the patient schedules the next appointment, send automatic appointment reminders a week and then two days before to reduce no-shows.

This helps to maintain continuity of care and ensures that your patients receive the dental treatment they need to maintain good oral health. Incorporating this simple step into your dental office’s routine can significantly impact patient retention and help establish a strong, long-lasting relationship with your patients.

4. Be Proactive About Follow-Up Appointments

Another critical aspect of patient retention is booking follow-up appointments. Proactively scheduling future appointments shows your patients you value their time and prioritize their oral health.

This ensures that your patients receive the ongoing dental care they need to maintain their oral health. It also builds a solid and trustworthy relationship with them.

Regular follow-up appointments also allow for detecting and treating any potential oral health issues before they become major problems, leading to better oral health for your patients.

5. Offer Flexible Payment Methods To Patients

Provide various payment options to dental patients to boost dental retention. This makes it easier for patients to manage their dental expenses. This can also increase patient satisfaction and lead to repeat business.

Flexible Payment Options

Some payment options you can offer are:

  • Traditional methods: Offer traditional payment options such as cash, check, and credit/debit card payments.
  • Insurance: Accepting insurance can make it more affordable for patients to receive dental treatment. Inform patients about their insurance coverage, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Payment plans: 40% of Americans don’t see a dentist regularly due to cost. Set up a payment plan for patients who cannot pay for their dental treatment upfront. Offer a payment plan for smaller monthly/quarterly installments and schedule regular visits for better retention. This can make dental care more accessible and allow patients to receive the care they need, increasing patient satisfaction.
  • Dental financing: Offer dental financing options such as CareCredit or LendingClub Patient Solutions. This can help patients cover the cost of their treatment and make it easier for them to get the care they need.
  • Online payment portals: Provide a payment system for patients to make payments and manage their accounts online. This can be convenient and time-saving for patients. Provide a contactless checkout experience for your patients. DemandHub makes receiving payments easy as sending a text message.

Remember, the goal is to make dental treatment accessible and affordable for patients, so they can receive the care they need to maintain their oral health.

6. Personalized Customer Service To Build Strong Patient Relationships

Providing personalized customer service is key to retaining dental patients and developing relationships. It involves going the extra mile to provide individualized attention and care to each patient, making them feel valued and heard.

Personalized Customer Service

Some ways to offer personalized customer service include:

  1. Greeting patients by name when they enter the office
  2. Taking the time to listen to their concerns and needs
  3. Offering flexible appointment scheduling or online self-scheduling
  4. Following up with patients after appointments to check on their well-being
  5. Sending birthday and special occasion cards
  6. Making special accommodations for patients with specific needs
  7. Keeping detailed patient records and using them to personalize treatments
  8. Providing educational materials and resources specific to each patient’s needs via dental texting or email
  9. Offering patient rewards or recognition programs
  10. Using technology, such as a patient online dashboard and auto text reminders, to enhance the patient experience
  11. Providing follow-up care and scheduling regular check-ins to maintain the patient-dentist relationship

7. Implement Patient Loyalty Programs

A patient loyalty program is a rewards program that incentivizes patients to continue using the services of a dental practice. This program encourages repeat business and helps retain patients over time.

You can implement patient loyalty programs by following these examples as inspiration:

Implementing Loyalty Programs

  • Point-based rewards system: Patients earn points for each visit or procedure they have done. These points can then be redeemed for discounts on future services or products.
  • Referral program: Patients receive a discount or reward for referring friends and family to your dental practice.
  • VIP Club: Patients who sign up for this program receive exclusive benefits such as priority scheduling, special promotions, and extended hours.
  • Maintenance plan: Patients can enroll in a preventive care plan that includes regular cleanings, exams, and discounts on other services.
  • Birthday rewards: Patients receive a special gift or discount during their birthday month.

With these strategies, dental practices can build stronger relationships with their patients, increase patient retention, and boost their bottom line.

8. Build A Strong Online Presence

Building a strong online presence is crucial in today’s digital age. It can help dental practices to reach and engage with current and potential patients. It can also attract new patients, retain existing ones, and give greater control over your online reputation.

Following are some key dental marketing strategies to build a strong online presence:

i. Develop a professional and strong dental website

Your website must be user-friendly and visually appealing. It must provide detailed information about your dental services, hours, location, and contact information.

It should also have online scheduling software so patients can book appointments directly from your website.

Brush Dentists Website

Incorporate DemandHub’s web chat feature on your website. It turns each incoming web conversation into a text message for flexible communication. So, your patients can talk to you while on the go. No one needs to be tied down to a web browser anymore.

DemandHub Web Chat

ii. Use social media effectively

A strong social media presence can be a game-changer for your dental practice. 90% of people buy from businesses they follow on social media. You can become a reliable and authoritative source in dentistry by having a strong online presence as more people turn to online platforms for information and recommendations.

Connect with your patients on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Engage with them in a meaningful way, build relationships, and create a strong sense of community around your practice.

Brush Dentists Social Media

Additionally, share relevant and useful content such as educational dental care related articles, patient testimonials, and before-and-after treatment pictures. It can help you build trust with your followers and showcase your expertise and commitment to providing high-quality dental care.

You can also use social media to promote your services and special offers. Keep your patients up-to-date on changes to your practice, and respond to any questions or concerns they may have promptly and professionally.

iii. Obtain online reviews and respond constructively

Encourage patients to leave reviews on popular websites such as Yelp, Google, and other top dental review sites to boost your visibility and build credibility with potential patients.

Respond to all positive and negative reviews in a professional and constructive manner.

By being proactive and engaging with your patients online, you can manage and respond to negative reviews and promote positive feedback. It will improve your online reputation and attract more patients to your practice.

DemandHub’s auto review generation system helped Brush Dentist get 896 5-star reviews over 12 months.

Brush Dentists

iv. Dental SEO Optimization

Dental SEO optimization is the process of improving a dental website’s visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERP) through various tactics and strategies.

Dental SEO aims to attract more potential patients to your website, actively searching for dental services in your area. Optimizing your website increases its visibility in search results, leading to more conversions and clicks.

There are several key components of SEO, such as:

  • Keyword research: Identifying and targeting relevant keywords related to dental services and location can help improve your website’s visibility in search results.
  • On-page optimization: This includes optimizing your website’s content, meta tags, images, and URLs for search engines.
  • Link building: Building high-quality backlinks from other authoritative websites can help improve your website’s domain authority, leading to higher search engine rankings.
  • Local SEO: Optimizing your website for local search terms can help improve visibility in search results for people searching for dental services in your area. This includes claiming your Google My Business listing, using local keywords, and adding local citations.
  • Mobile optimization: With more people searching on mobile devices, optimizing your website for mobile devices is essential to ensure a positive user experience and improve your chances of ranking in search results.

Implementing a comprehensive dental SEO strategy can help attract new patients and retain current ones, leading to increased revenue and growth for your dental practice.

v. Use Email Marketing

An email is a powerful tool that can be used to keep your dental patients informed and engaged with your practice. With email marketing, you can send targeted, relevant messages to your patients, promoting your services and sharing news, events, and special promotions with them.

This allows you to build a strong relationship with your patients, keeping them notified about your practice and the services you offer.

Additionally, by including calls-to-actions (CTAs) in your emails, such as a link inviting patients to book appointments or leave a review, you can drive conversions and build engagement with your patients.

Email Marketing Example

Keep your patients in the loop with regular emails so they stay loyal to your practice and keep coming back to you.

vi. Google Business Profile (GBP)

Claim and complete your Google Business Profile (GBP), previously known as Google My Business (GMB) listing. It is crucial for improving online visibility and attracting new patients to your dental practice.

An accurate and up-to-date GBP listing allows potential patients to easily find and learn about your practice, including your business hours, contact information, and location.

It’s important to take the time to thoroughly complete your listing with all necessary information, including a description of your practice and services, photos, and reviews from past patients.

Google Business Profile Example

This information helps potential patients understand what your practice offers and makes it easier for them to choose your dental practice over others in your area.

Regularly updating your GBP listing with promotions, events, and news related to your practice keeps your information current and relevant, leading to higher engagement, increased visibility, and new patients.

9. Provide Patient-Centered Care

Patient-centered care involves putting the needs and wants of patients at the forefront of a dental practice. This approach prioritizes creating a positive patient experience and addresses their individual concerns and desires. By doing so, dental practices can establish trust and build strong relationships with their patients.

A patient-centered approach requires dentists to listen to patients’ needs, involve them in treatment planning, and educate them about dental health.

For example, dentists can use interactive tools to explain complex dental procedures or provide detailed treatment plans. They can also offer flexible appointment scheduling to accommodate patients’ busy schedules.

Additionally, they can conduct patient satisfaction surveys to gather feedback and improve the overall patient experience. By incorporating these best practices, dentists can create a positive and personalized patient experience, increasing patient satisfaction and loyalty.

10. Retain Dental Patients By Incorporating The Latest Technology

Incorporating the latest technology into your dental practice can help retain patients and improve their overall experience. This can include implementing digital tools for appointment scheduling, patient records management, and online payment options.

Also, incorporate digital x-rays, intraoral cameras, 3D imaging, and other advanced dental equipment into your dental practice. It can help dentists make more accurate diagnoses, provide more detailed treatment plans, and communicate these plans to patients more effectively. Consequently, making patient visits more comfortable and convenient and boosting patient retention rates.

Dental Technology

Some other examples of incorporating technology into your dental office are:

  • Using EHRs for paperless patient records
  • Using Practice Management Software to automate tedious day-to-day tasks
  • Providing interactive educational materials on digital devices,
  • Offering teledentistry for virtual consultations or follow-up appointments and reducing the risk of exposure to contagious diseases.

Dental Technology

Patients appreciate the convenience and accessibility of these technologies, and they can help establish trust and increase patient loyalty. You can demonstrate your commitment to providing the best possible care for your patients by continually updating and improving your technology offerings.

11. Maintaining A Clean And Welcoming Office Environment

Maintaining a clean and welcoming office environment can greatly impact patient satisfaction and retention. This includes regular cleaning of surfaces, organized and clutter-free waiting areas, and a well-maintained restroom.

Using pleasant and inviting colors and artwork, comfortable seating, and providing amenities such as water, coffee, or magazines can also create a positive atmosphere.

Dental Technology

Additionally, ensuring that the staff is friendly, professional, and accommodating can enhance the overall patient experience and foster a positive impression of the practice.

How can DemandHub help you retain patients in 2023?

If you’re looking for a solution to your dental patient retention problems, look no further than DemandHub.

DemandHub is a powerful, all-in-one customer satisfaction platform that can help retain patients and grow your practice 10X. It improves your digital footprint and ensures potential patients always see the best side of your practice.

With the benchmarking feature, you’ll clearly see how you stack up against other dental practices in your area. And with the dental marketing tools and resources available, you can improve your ratings and get more positive reviews.

But that’s not all!

DemandHub also allows you to start a two-way conversation with your patients through its modern messaging capabilities. Just send a text with a review link directly to your patients, and they can post a review in just 30 seconds or less. It’s that easy!

Book a free demo today if you’re looking for an easy and effective way to retain dental patients and grow your practice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Dental Retention Strategies

What are dental retention strategies?

Dental retention strategies refer to techniques and practices to keep patients returning to a dental practice for their oral care needs. These strategies often involve providing excellent patient care, building strong relationships, utilizing patient communication tools, and offering value-added services.

Why are dental retention strategies important?

Dental retention strategies are important because it’s often more cost-effective to retain existing patients than to acquire new ones. High patient retention also indicates patient satisfaction, leading to positive word-of-mouth and more referrals for the dental practice.

What are some effective dental retention strategies?

Some effective dental retention strategies include:

  • Regular patient communication,
  • Appointment reminders,
  • Providing personalized care,
  • Offering flexible payment options,
  • Collecting patient reviews.

What is retention in dentistry?

Retention in dentistry refers to the practice of maintaining a high number of returning patients. In orthodontics, it also refers to the period after braces are removed, where retainers are used to keep teeth in their new position.

How do you increase patient retention?

To increase patient retention, focus on improving patient satisfaction. Inviting and acting upon patient feedback can also be beneficial as it shows patients that their opinions are valued and considered.

What is the average dental patient retention?

The average dental patient retention rate is around 41% for new patients, according to the American Dental Association. This means only about 4 out of 10 new patients return to the same dental practice beyond their first appointment.

What is the average attrition rate for dental practices?

According to Dentistry Today, the average attrition rate for dental practices is 17%. The top 10% of dental practices have an average attrition rate of 3%. Practices that do not preschedule hygiene patients lose 15% - 18% more patients.

What not to say to dental patients?

Here is a list of things that should never be said to dental patients:

  • “This is going to hurt.” - Instead, reassure them that you’ll do everything to minimize discomfort.
  • “You have the worst teeth I’ve seen.” - Focus on the solutions and treatment plan instead.
  • “You should have come in sooner.” - Encourage regular check-ups in a positive way.
  • “You probably can’t afford this treatment.” - Discuss all options and let the patient decide.
  • “I’m not sure what’s wrong.” - If you’re unsure, it’s better to say you’ll consult with a colleague or do further tests.
  • “This procedure rarely works.” - Discuss the pros and cons honestly.
  • “I can’t help you.” - Refer them to a specialist who can.

How do you keep dental patients?

Focus on providing top-notch, personalized dental care. This is the cornerstone. Ensure your clinic has a warm and professional atmosphere. This makes a big difference.

Offer appointment times that suit your patients’ busy schedules. Also, consider flexible payment plans. Lastly, stay in touch. Regular check-up reminders and helpful tips for oral health can go a long way in keeping your dental patients.

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