You go to a show. You thoroughly enjoy it. So do all the people around you. At the end you, along with everyone else in the theatre erupt into enthusiastic applause and leap to your feet. As you leave the theatre you can’t stop talking about how wonderful the performance was, which were your favorite scenes – your favorite lines. The next day you’re still talking about it to everyone you meet. The sow was obviously a hit.
But, you run a dental office, not a theatre troupe. How do you know if your dental practice is a “hit” with your patients? You’ve just spent good money remodeling the practice after taking over from the retiring, senior associate. Was that money well spent? Have you achieved your goal of providing an exceptional patient experience? Well, are your patients talking about you?
How would you know whether your patients are talking about you? One of the first ways is to be tracking referrals. The time to start tracking both patient referrals and appointment cancellations is before you embark on your remodel or some other major change in the practice operations. The more baseline data you have the more certain you’ll be of the results after the change. If you’ve been successful in improving the patient experience you should see referrals go up and cancellations fall.
You can also survey your patients asking them about their experience. Again, if you can do this before the change doing so afterwards will give you comparative data. Having a third-party survey your patients is probably a better choice than having someone from the office call. Patients are more likely to be honest with a third-party than someone in the office they know – especially if they have a complaint. Email surveys are also good as they are less expensive and you can reach out to every patient that you have an email address for.
Then there is social media. You can look to see what your patients are saying on your Facebook page. You can build quick Facebook surveys that can help you ask specific questions about changes in the practice and solicit responses.
As Lady Gaga says, “[we] live for the applause.” In the case of a dental office hit, the applause is a vibrant, growing practice.