DENTAL OFFICES STARTING TO OPEN AGAIN (Now What?) Part 2
Getting the Word Out to Patients…We Are Ready for You!
As some states are nearing the end of their Safer-at-Home mandates, dental offices will start re-opening. For many of these offices, re-opening dates are tentative, but there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. The new reality of opening a dental health care facility on the heels of a pandemic is drawing closer.
DENTAL OFFICES STARTING TO OPEN AGAIN (Now What?) Part 2
May 6, 2020 | News
By Rae Senger
This is the second in a series on reviewing your processes for re-opening.
COVID CUSTOMER SERVICE: Provide exemplary communication!
If you have been one of the offices that has kept in constant communication with your patients since mid-March, good for you! If this was not your reality, it is not too late. The time to reach out is now. As the adage goes, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is today.” Why not use this time to reach out to your client base and demonstrate exceptional customer service?
Patients will want to hear from you.
Patients you have had to cancel in the past weeks will be wondering when they will be recalled. Those who have appointments in the coming weeks will be looking forward to planning their schedules. Even if all the details in your post-COVID environment are not completely ironed out, simply letting your patients know you are thinking of them will be appreciated.
As you triage your patients’ needs, it will be evident that you will need to prioritize certain patients’ appointments. Be honest and transparent about how you are building your schedule, so your patients understand the reasoning behind your available times. This will further emphasize your commitment to patients’ safety and wellbeing. You want to ensure that each patient feels important and helping them understand your current plan for seeing patients will help them feel valued even if they won’t be seen immediately. It is key to be proactive in this communication, so you continue to grow the relationship and loyalty of your patients. Do not make them wait to hear from you because you are afraid of making a tough phone call.
Use this time to reach out to your patients to let them know what your office is doing to keep them safe.
The patients who will be coming in the next few weeks will have a different mindset then they did a few months ago. While preventing contamination has always been a major concern for dentists and their staff, for many patients it was something that went on in the background; they simply trusted they were safe.
Your post-COVID-19 patients will have heightened awareness of infection control and contamination. Consumers have spent the past few weeks bombarded with information on proper hand sanitation and the differences between and importance of wearing masks. Acknowledge this and let your patients know what you have done and how hard you have been working to ensure their safety. This is also great material for reaching new, prospective patients who are looking for a dental provider they can trust, so share it out on your website and social media too!
- If you have installed air purification and High-Volume Evacuation (HVE) device inform them.
- Let them know you have secured (or will be securing) necessary PPE.
- If you have gone paperless to protect them, let them know.
- Whatever, hyper-vigilant processes you have put into place for your patient’s safety, TAKE CREDIT!
Once you have your “opening day” plan in place for seeing patients, clearly communicate it. You want to be sure that your patients’ first experience back to your office is a positive one.
- Make sure that they are aware of your process for traffic flow and waiting room policies.
- Inform patients upfront whether they will be required to wait in the car and check in over their phones well ahead of time.
- Clearly communicate your plans for patients who need to be escorted into the office.
- If weather allows, and you want people to leave their coats and large bags in their vehicles, advise upfront.
- If you’ve added teammates to cover overflow or fill in for those not able to come back right away, let them know they are in good hands.
- If you will have new processes in place for handling financial arrangements, let them know what to expect.
Whatever steps you will be requesting and taking, OVER COMMUNICATE and always keep it positive. This can be done via appointment confirmations, videos posted on your website or in your patient portal, pre-appointment reminders, etc. (See the ADA Return to Work Toolkit for important guidelines you will want to include on your checklists. Link Below.)
Consider scripting information so that everyone in the office is sharing consistent messaging.
Review your messaging and communication process to make sure your customers are receiving the best information possible. Consider reviewing your customer service processes daily so that you can celebrate what went well and tweak your message to better clarify what didn’t go as planned. Be the office that comes out ahead.
Do your best to make sure that the communications your patients receive from your office will accentuate their total experience with you and will portray the positive image that you want them to share with their friends and family.
Looking for more resources on how to build this plan?
Check out the Return to Work Toolkit for important guidelines you will want to include on your checklists.
- Includes Welcome Back Reassurance Letter
- Pre-appointment Screening Process
- Reception area preparation and more …
RELATED ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES
Maintaining a Safe Workplace Environment
Strategic Planning … Which patients do you see first?
COVID-19 Guidelines to Add to your SOP
Looking for how to create content for your newsletters, social media platforms, and more?
Complete Dental Staffing can help you with your bounce back plan.
As soon as it is safe and legal in your state (stay up to date with ADA Center for Professional Success) we want to get our field staff doing what they do best… providing an extra pair of hands to care for your patients when you need them the most.
Let us know how we can help.