Four reasons why you should encourage patient feedback

1. Insights you need to improve your practice

Patient feedback helps you find your blind spots, and understand why you may be losing patients. Possible reasons could include: High waiting times; behavior of the reception staff; or aftercare. Being able to collect this information can help you understand how the patients feel about their time in your clinic. Working upon this information can do wonders for your practice. A close friend recently found out from a Google review that new patients often got confused on which floor her clinic was, since it was not mentioned in the sign board.

2. Finding your secret sauce

Patient feedback can be incredibly helpful in finding your secret sauce. In the consumer product industry, it is a common practice to make the user experience a product and then tell the company what they liked the most about the product. The attribute is then used in all marketing and communication of the brand. Think Dove is tender on your skin, or Close-up gives you fresh breath.

Similarly, finding out what patients like about you and your practice can help create unique selling points and characteristics that make you more appealing to new patients. You will also understand which of your habits are liked by the patients.

3. Managing your reputation and increasing credibility

Your clinic’s search results and ratings on major platforms are the first things that patients see. Ratings have increasingly become ubiquitous in the world today, and play a big role in our purchase decisions (think Amazon, Zomato, and Tripadvisor). Needless to say, good reviews can build a lot of trust in your practice even before the patient enters your clinic.

Dr Srikanth Tirumala from Hyderabad swears by the importance of positive reviews on platforms such as Google and Practo. “Even if you spend a lot of money on Google Adwords, the next step for a patient is to check your business page, which contains the reviews. The importance of many, actual, good reviews should not be underestimated.”

4. Repeat customers > New customers

The key to a successful dental practice is repeat customers. It takes substantially less time and effort to retain a patient than to attract a new one. Patients feel more empowered when their opinion is solicited, and actions are taken to address their feedback. A strong focus on patient retention will help you build a loyal client base, increasing your word-of-mouth awareness and boosting your profits.

Best time and way to ask for patient feedback

I have seen dentists struggle with the right time and medium to ask for a patient’s feedback. Asking for feedback yourself or through your reception staff may be too intrusive and may prevent the patient from actually expressing how they felt about the experience. Sometimes, verbal feedback may also not be actionable.

Timing is also important as following up too late may prove to be unproductive as the patient may fail to recall the experience at the clinic. Vaibhav Gawande at BestoSys, a leading practice management software, suggests that the best time to ask for a patient’s feedback is just before the patient is leaving the clinic. BestoSys enables the staff to send a SMS to the patient just before leaving the clinic. Since the link is right in front of the patient, it saves the hassle of finding the clinic’s name on Google. In addition to Google reviews, BestoSys also provides a way to collect patients’ feedback which can be published on the clinic’s website and Facebook page after it is approved by the clinic. The approval mechanism helps track negative comments, and even prevent them from going public.

About the author

Dr. Shilpy Bhandari is a Hyderabad-based Periodontist and the founder of Dentistry Insider. She has worked extensively across dental clinics of all sizes — from large corporate chains to small, independent setups.

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