Make Your Team Their Team: How to Establish a Relationship with Your Patients

As a dentist and owner of a practice, your dental team may feel like family. Perhaps they helped you establish and grow your practice. Or maybe they have worked alongside you for decades. You likely see them as an extension of yourself and your brand.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that to new patients, your dental team is a group of strangers. It is vital to establish trust and rapport among your team and patients, especially when the patient may be signing on for a major procedure.

Let’s use implants as an example. As a dentist, you know the life-changing effects implants can have on a patient. You likely want more implant cases and get excited about the procedure. From the patient’s perspective, he or she is likely nervous about the procedure, worried about the pain, and concerned about the large financial investment.

By creating a bond between your team and your patients, you will establish a sense of trust and confidence. And that will result in increased case acceptance rates and long-term success for both parties.

Here are five ways to make your team, their team.

  1. Find common points of interest. Upon meeting with your patient or potential patient, engage in small talk to find common points of interest. Ask if he or she has kids or pets. Ask about what they like to do. Get excited. Introduce them to members of your team who may have similar likes and dislikes. Take five minutes to really engage with them. It will be worth it in the long run.
  2. Educate them. Show your patient your expertise. Talk them through the procedure with great detail and explain which members of your team will be doing what. Offer them web links, videos, and other material that you think will help them to make the right decision for their health. This will establish trust between the patient and your practice.
  3.  Let the patient talk. Ask questions and let the patient answer. Practice empathic listening – really putting yourself in the patient’s shoes to feel their challenges and concerns. It may sound obvious, but many of us tend to interrupt or zone out. Ask open-ended questions and listen, listen, listen. You’ll be surprised at how appreciated your ear will be.
  4. Repeat their concerns back to them. When you get into the nitty-gritty about the proposed dental procedure, make sure you repeat any concerns so that they know you are aware of any and all apprehensions. Use their language when answering any questions so that dental speak doesn’t overwhelm or confuse the patient more.
  5. Follow up. Have a team member follow up with the patient before and after their procedure. Beforehand, ask if there are any last minute questions they can answer. Reiterate pre-procedure instructions. Reassure them that they are in capable hands. After the procure, ask how their recovery is going and if they have any lingering questions. This attentive follow up will show your patient that you and your team genuinely care about his or her well-being.

A positive relationship between you, your team and your patients is likely to yield more positive results and outcomes. Bottom line: establish a connection between you, your team and your patient and something as simple as a cleaning will be easier, less stressful, and more successful.