25 Things Patients Really Want from Their Dentist

In today’s highly-competitive dental market, setting your practice apart from the others is key. We searched the Internet, social forums, asked our peers, and used our own personal experiences to list the top 25 things patients really want from their dentist to help you consistently deliver a flawless experience every time.

Patients want their dentists to…

1. Be upfront, clear, and honest about insurance accepted. It may seem like a no-brainer, but this is a top consideration for patients. The easier your practice can make things, the better – so list the various insurances you accept on your website, talk to patients on the phone about their insurance while making an appointment, and help them get an accurate quote for treatment.

2. Offer financing options. A lot of patients want to invest in their oral health but aren’t financially in a spot to pay a lot upfront. If you work with a provider like CareCredit, make it known on your website and help patients understand what the steps look like to get approved for financial options.

3. Provide weekend appointments. It may not be music to your ears, but it could be the difference of a patient choosing your practice over another. Find out what hours work best for your patients and do the best you can to accommodate; even if this means doing weekends for specific months out of the year.

4. Offer same-day appointments. If you have a last-minute cancellation and want to fill the spot, look into using an automated patient communications provider like PracticeMojo where you can send a text to specific groups of patients to let them know you have an opening. Someone who may be scheduled to come in a week or two out may find the last-minute opening a bit more convenient, allowing you to quickly re-arrange and fill any gaps in your schedule.

5. Have good reviews. Potential patients aren’t the only ones looking at your reviews. Current patients will see them too! If they see that you aren’t rated that well on Google, it may make them question their own loyalty to your practice. Make sure to put effort into consistently generating positive reviews and ask happy patients to share their experience online too!

6. Respond to reviews. If a loyal patient takes time to write a positive review, be sure to thank them for their kind words1 You don’t have to go overboard, but a simple note thanking them for their kind feedback can go a long way!

7. Send appointment reminders. Whether it’s via email, text message, or phone call – make sure to keep your no-show rate low and profitability high with effective patient appointment reminders. Find a provider that can give you flexibility in how you contact patients and the frequency in which you send a reminder before an upcoming appointment for an ideal patient experience.

8. Send eNewsletters with tips and recommendations. To stay top-of-mind throughout the year, go above and beyond by providing patients helpful tips and tricks to maintaining their oral health. A quarterly or monthly eNewsletter with tips on how to minimizing grinding, teeth stains, and keep healthy, happy gums is a great way to build relationships with patients.

9. Provide incentives for referrals. It’s a HUGE compliment if a patient sends their friend and/or family member to your practice, and a little token of appreciation can make all the difference! Give patients a small gift card to Starbucks or a dental kit as a way of thanking them for their support.

10. Create a personalized experience. When a patient comes into the practice, have a sign in their room that says “Welcome, {patient name}” and a small gift-bag with sample size floss and toothpaste to take home. This little extra piece of personalization can mean a lot to a patient and shows that your practice goes the extra mile to make patients feel comfortable.

11. Offer surprise and delight patient appreciation days. Consider holding a day once a month that is a “surprise patient appreciation day” where you give all patients that day an extra gift; maybe a full-size toothpaste or mouthwash.

12. Have friendly staff. Again, one that seems like a no-brainer, but must be mentioned! Going to the dentist can be a feared experience for many, so the more gentle, personable, and friendly your front-staff can be, the better!

13. Send follow-up emails with treatment plans. A lot of patients won’t remember exactly what was discussed at their appointment, so a friendly follow-up email that recaps everything you two discussed can be very helpful in ensuring patients follow-through with their treatment plan.

14. Have online forms. Gone are the days where people have a printer easily accessible and remember to bring in their forms before their first appointment. Instead, have a patient portal on your website where patients can fill forms out and submit them online before their appointment.

15. Run on-time. Everyone has a busy schedule, and no one likes to wait. If you’re running behind, call patients that are scheduled in the day and let them know you’re running ~X minutes behind schedule. Or, make a policy that if a patient is X minutes late, then you’ll need to reschedule. It’s important to be flexible while keeping other patients in mind.

16. Explain to patients what is about to happen. The more you can describe what a patient is about to experience before a procedure, the more at ease they’ll feel with you.

17. Have good magazines in the waiting area. Yes, most people in your waiting room may probably be on their cellphone. But, for the rare instances, having a few magazines to read may be a fun change of pace for patients.

18. Have a mobile-friendly website. Most of your website traffic is likely from a mobile-device, so make sure the viewing experience is flawless. This means quick load times, thumb-friendly buttons, no need to pinch-and-zoom, and easy-to-find contact information.

19. Be confident. And, speak from a place of authority. You’re their dentist so your advice should be clear, easy-to-understand, and assertive yet approachable.

20. Thoughtfully answer any questions. While it’s more than easy to be in a rush, make sure your schedule isn’t so packed that patients feel like they don’t have time to ask any appropriate questions. You want to make sure patients are at ease and feel like you care!

21. Have a complete website. Many patients will happily go to your website to learn more about a procedure, but make sure your website has enough details on it! Look for a website provider (like ProSites) that provides pre-written, customizable content so you can easily showcase the plethora of services that you offer. Bonus if you and/or your website provider have videos that can further explain procedures in a digestible manner.

22. Responsive customer service. Whether a patient reaches out on your social media page, leaves a review, sends an email through your website, or leaves a voicemail, make sure that your office is monitoring all contact points to ensure no patient falls through the cracks.

23. Up-to-date contact information. One that may seem obvious – but a small miss of changing a phone number or updating an address on your website can cause a lot of confusion and frustration among patients.

24. Wish them happy birthday. As technology and automation advance, as do a patient’s expectations of brands and businesses remembering the small things – like their birthday. Send a post card, write an email, or provide a simple text message with a birthday greeting with a small incentive inside to make their next appointment.

25. Be authentic! Patients are loyal when they feel their trusted dentist truly cares about them and their oral health and puts their needs first. The more you can continue to create great experiences – before, during, and after – the patient’s appointment, the greater their loyalty will be to your practice.