By JONATHAN FINE
Patient reactivation is bread and butter stuff for dental consultants like me. The logic behind it is it’s easier to reactivate a patient than find a completely new one, and that’s why reactivation is always in there with each marketing campaign I endorse for dentists – it’s the first easy win. There are lots of versions of it but this, in brief, is the one I recommend:
The set up
To achieve a reasonable DMC (decision maker contact) rate make your calls on Tuesday/Wednesday and Thursday evenings between 18.00 and 20.00. Mondays are not great as it’s the first day back at work after the weekend and Friday nights are when people go out or entertain. You should aim for a DMC rate of three – in other words expect to have to ring your patient three times before you get to speak to them. Ensure there’s a foolproof way of counting the DMC and ultimately the outcome. The outcome fields to create are:
- Gone away/deceased.
- No response.
- Has decided to leave your practice.
- Reason why they have decided to leave your practice (the reasons can be compelling such as poor timekeeping by clinician, unpleasant bedside manner, price, no parking).
- Not wanting to book right now (agree a reminder date).
- Wants an appointment. This is the most likely outcome by a country mile – most people just forget if they have no pain and their teeth look good because there is no real urgency to attend your practice.
Scripts don’t work in my opinion because the patient quickly senses it isn’t a natural conversation and instinctively looks for a way out. That said, it is important for the caller to have a structure of the call in their head which should be:
- This is a duty of care call, not a selling call.
- The patient needs a check-up for health reasons.
- We would like to welcome the patient back to our wonderful practice.
- We never mention the fact that we have sent 17 reminders.
- We would genuinely like to understand why the patient has chosen another dental practice – we won’t make the patient feel awkward, we need to learn.
- If we have introduced some new treatments like facial aesthetics this is a good time to mention it.
- The caller needs to introduce the call as:
“Hello this is Jenny Jordan from Clifton Dental, Dr Patel has asked me to call you to check if everything is all right? (This positions the call as a duty of care call, not an irritating reminder call.)
(The retort is usually surprise.)
“Well, it’s just that Dr Patel has not seen you for nearly two years and he is concerned about your oral health…”
Whatever the outcome, end the call with: “is there anything else I can help you with? Thank you for your time this evening.”
- The question above usually naturally generates an appointment or gives an indication as to why the patient has not been in, or indeed is not going to ever have an appointment again at your practice. In other words, the least you can expect from this exercise is insight into why your practice is losing patients.
Let me know if I can help set up your patient reactivation campaign.