How to Earn Patient Loyalty

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If you are like most doctors, you are likely focused on earning new patients on a regular basis. Patients come and go.  Some come in for a minor procedure and you never see them again. Others come in for a complex case and they return year after year, and refer their friends as well.

Is it the quality of the care?
Is it the pricing?
What about location?

While all of these elements are critical for long-term business success, the most important factor in patient retention is your personal relationship with the patient.

While patients choose your clinic to solve a problem, what they are really buying is a personal relationship with you.  The most successful practices understand this and treat their patients with all of the personal attention and energy they can muster.  Struggling practices often see patients as replaceable commodities, and treat their patients impersonally, making patients feel like an unwelcome imposition, not a welcome guest.

The key to practice success is creating an energy-dynamic in your clinic that puts the patient at the center of your focus.  When your practice becomes truly patient-focused, the rewards of patient loyalty will multiply.

Dale Carnegie, writes in his introduction to the classic personal and professional psychology book How to Win Friends & Influence People  “There is no such thing as a neutral exchange. [With every personal contact], you leave someone either a little better or a little worse.”

Are your personal interactions with patients leaving them better?

Here’s how to make sure that your practice is focused on building positive, welcoming relationships with all patients.

  1. Energy Matching: Pay close attention to your energy and your attitude with staff and patients. The way you treat your team and your patients will be matched by those around you. Are you positive, enthusiastic and welcoming? Or do you tend to show your stress and anxiety to others around you? Do you greet patients with a warm hello and a big smile, or are you reserved and matter of fact? Do you make patients feel at home, or does your attitude signal that patients are in a cold dental office?  You know where this is going.  If you lack the traits of an enthusiastic, welcoming leader, your team will follow your lead.

Helpful Hint: Every morning, spend 5-10 minutes in quiet meditation.  Make it a habit.  Remind yourself of your impact on those around you.  Be grateful, be welcoming and be a positive inspiration for everyone who meets you.  You will not only change your practice…you will change your life.

  1. See the Good in Others: Try to notice, appreciate and acknowledge each member of your team every day.  We all want to belong.  A sense of belonging at work is critical to overall happiness and job satisfaction.  If your employees are happy, your patients will also be happy.  Miserable employees create a hostile work environment. Patients will notice.  Affirm the contributions your team members make every day.  Notice the little things.  Be grateful.   Carnegie writes, “We are all united by one single desire: to be valued by another.”  Be honest and show gratitude for the strengths they bring to your practice. Encourage growth through constructive criticism and let your team do the work you hired them to do.  Confidence in their skills and contributions is one of the most important traits of an effective leader.  In other words…give a little hard-earned praise and let them do their jobs.
  2. Interact with a Higher Purpose: We meet tens and sometimes hundreds of people every day.  With each meeting, ask yourself how you can make their life better.  It may be a simple referral to a spa for an overworked mom, or  taking the time to truly listen to someone who has had a rough day.  Ask thoughtful questions that help you better understand your staff and your patients and respond in ways that reflect your genuine concern.  Don’t fake it.  Find a way to care and to be caring to every person you meet.  I have always believed that every interaction is an opportunity to teach or to learn.  Ask yourself what you have to teach, to make someone’s life a little better, or what you have to learn from the person sitting across from you.  When you treat every person that enters your life with this level of dignity, you will find your life and your business growing in ways you could never have imagined.  This morning, all over the world, people woke up with challenges and problems.  Be the solution to their problems and you will earn their business for life.

Create a Culture of Caring:

Loyalty is the result of relationships rooted in trust.  When you focus your energies on building trust and improving people’s lives in meaningful ways, you will find that patients will become brand ambassadors, telling everyone they know about you and your wonderful team.  Treat your team with respect and act with warmth and compassion, and your team will stand behind you and will model their attitudes and behaviors after yours.  This will create a “culture of caring” that will fill your appointment schedule with loyal patients and will fill your life with meaning.

Patrick Goodness, CEO
The Goodness Company
Healthcare & Dental Marketing that Drives Results