Today I talked with a dentist about his less than stellar case acceptance. In fact, we’ve been tracking his case acceptance for new patients and it’s around 50%. This dentist has been around the block with me for awhile so instead of me lecturing, I asked him three diagnostic questions so he could evaluate his own practice. Read on to learn the questions that sparked this dentist’s breakthrough realization.
First Question: What does the practice need to tighten up in order to improve case acceptance?
He told me that there needed to be:
- A better handoff from Dr to Dental Assistant
- Better focus on benefits instead of procedures (he’s been listening to me!)
- Better note taking from the DA to capture patients concerns so the front desk team can do a better job at treatment presentation.
My Second Question: What do you think is preventing patients from accepting treatment?
- They’re frightened
- They don’t see or value the benefits of treatment
- Insurance mindset
My Third Question: What is your new patient’s current experience of your practice from the moment they call?
- Indifferent and rushed front desk
- Wait time to get desired appointment time
- Waiting in reception for appointment to begin
- DA focused on getting the assessments done
- Dr focused on diagnosing disease
- Shuffled to front desk to hear treatment costs
With this last question, the dentist started to look at his practice from his patient’s viewpoint. So, I asked the killer question: “If you think patients are not accepting treatment because they’re afraid, they don’t see the value and they don’t want to pay out of pocket, how is your new patient process addressing all this?
And here was a true “Ah-Ha” lightbulb moment. Nothing in the process he described to me was addressing his patients needs and concerns. Patients were on a treatment assembly line designed to be convenient for the practice but not at all conducive to establishing trust with the patient. And their lack of relationship and connection to the practice showed up in the rates they were rejecting treatment.
So, readers here is what I want you to understand. There is no magic verbal trick that you can use to get patients to “overcome their objections.” In fact, that whole notion that you must overcome someone’s well-placed trepidation, implies that you are going to manipulate someone away from their concerns. People sense when they are being manipulated. The patient’s entire experience at your office has to prove and proclaim that you are trustworthy.
What realization did my dentist have?
He told me about a former employee who had amazing success in closing Invisalign cases. The employee equated his philosophy as akin to a young man who really, really wants to date a girl. How does a guy go about getting her to say yes? He courts her, pays attention to her, and without being stalkerish – doesn’t take the first “no” as a reason to stop caring about her.
The employee applied this philosophy with dental patients. He sat with each patient to chat about the patient’s lives and goals. He talked about how great the practice was and he showed them before/after photos. And if he didn’t get a yes right away, he followed up– not to pressure the patient but to show he cared about them. When he was with this dentist, this employee closed about $60,000 of Invisalign cases in three months.
At the end of our call, I assigned my dentist homework. By our next meeting, he needs to completely reimagine the new patient experience at his practice. Just like you’d remodel a house, he needs to look at how his practice appears to new patients to how well it functions in meeting their needs. His immediate inspiration? With COVID safety precautions, he realized that his new patients have never even seen his face. So, he is putting pictures of himself on a name tag he’ll wear and point to when he greets new patients. It is a small, simple and yet elegant way of beginning his relationships with his patients.
What do you need to reimagine?