Why dental offices fail to maximize their potential with marketing.
Dental Marketing has 3 important steps.
- Lead acquisition
- Call conversion to appointment
- appointment converted to patient/production
Of these 3, number 2 is the most difficult an often the most overlooked part of the marketing process at the dental office. Why? If you think about it, you hire outside firms and vendors like DPO to provide the leads. And after the appointment is made and they show up to the office, usually the dentist and or treatment coordinator are comfortable selling treatment. The patient is in your house now and you are the doctor. They have a commitment just by being there and just by showing up, are serious about getting treatment either general or elective. But the truth is, they never can get there unless you have the lead converted to an appointment and this is where the problem lies.
In the old days, leads came in differently. People picked up a yellow pages or came in off a referral from the insurance directory. They saw the dentist in the medical building when visiting the family doctor and referrals from long term residents who also visited the office were common place. Doctors did not advertise because well, they were doctors and going to the doctor was like going to public school. We all had to do it whether we wanted to or not. It was ingrained that two appointments a year were mandatory and any resulting problems had to be dealt with based on what your dentist told you.
When the internet really hit the mainstream, websites flew up like hotcakes and became as necessary as the dental chair. Their initial job was to present the office and all the available services and staff to prospective patients as well as provide information and details for existing ones. They were not designed to sell, but rather to provide information so that someone could make a decision about the doctor, staff and office. It was a big step-up from the yellow page and still plays an important role in patients making crucial decisions about the dentist.
But then the internet became something else. Companies started to use the internet for more than an information source. Companies developed digital online storefronts. From 2005 to 2011, internet shopping has almost doubled every year. The convenience of shopping for products and services became addicting and the advantages obvious.
This mentality of the internet shopper also changed dentistry. People stopped shopping for a dentist all the time and began searching for actual treatment. Rather than look up a dentist on the yellow pages or just see if a dentist offers a service on their website, the prospective patient wanted to compare services and PRICE, the same shopping patterns they had developed and learned to love in shopping for hotel rooms.
They realized that dental treatment, like other types of services, are being marketed by the dental profession and the price and services are not the sames everywhere. Especially elective procedures like implants, veneers and even teeth whitening. Providing prospective patients with an ability to quickly shop for services among many dentists in the same area is a process that most dentists don't prepare for in their own offices.
They are now in a competitive selling environment competing with other dentists who do similar services. They are in a SALES SITUATION until that prospect commits to them as a patient and this is where most offices fall short. The front desk treats prospective patients as if they are committed in most cases and don't have any training necessary to actually convert the patient. They tell patients what they need to do, or diagnose them rather than persuade. In the worst case scenarios, they treat prospective patients like the DMV. They speak to them in a monotone, condescending voice, as if the they were the only choice in town. They put them on hold and expect them to stay there until they finish what they are doing because what they are doing is more important. When times are good and patients are plenty, this type of behavior from the front desk and staff is not as noticeable. But as times get tougher and the economy shrinks the elective procedures market, dentists find themselves wondering whats wrong when usually its right in front of them.
They will blame the advertising not realizing without actually recording the calls coming from the marketing that in most cases, its the front desk that blows the call. They expect post cards, TV, Radio and their internet efforts to produce patients when in fact the only thing they can do is produce a lead. In order to create production, that lead needs to be converted into an appointment. But conversion from interest to actual patients is a SALES process and requires the ability and knowledge of persuasion to be effective. And herein lies the problem. Most dentists will hire a front desk based on knowledge of dental office procedure and basic customer service training from a dental school or work from a previous office. In reality, they are turning the keys to the future of the office over to someone who rarely has any selling skills necessary to properly convert today's shopper of high-end dental service.
So what can you do?
The good news is that Dental Patients Online® offers Free call conversion training when your start the program. We also offer 2 additional sessions with each dentist and staff where we analyze the calls coming into your office from prospective patients and make sure they are using what they have learned. Ongoing training is available based in all but the basic package from DPO also.
Click Here to learn how to convert calls to patients