There is a lot about the current crisis that we can’t control. If you’ve read Matthew’s recent blog sharing his thoughts on dealing with the uncertainty the current lockdown brings, you’ll know that one of the key insights he shares is to take control over what you can.
One area over which you still have control is the messages you send to your patients. Connecting with them during lockdown represents a distinct opportunity for you and your dental business. One that you should not miss. When you connect with your patients during lockdown it pays off in 3 ways:
- You contribute to your patients’ wellbeing – most importantly, your contact and support helps your patients feel reassured and connected during this period of isolation. Done well, it also empowers your patients with the knowledge to help themselves and their families
- You help your patients to help themselves – empowered patients are in a better position to help themselves while they can’t visit your practice. It helps them feel in control and reduces the amount of non-urgent enquiries for you to deal with over the phone
- Goodwill towards your practice grows – I suggest that, just like you’ll remember who reached out to you during this difficult period, your patients will remember you connecting with them with timely, valuable information. This can only help your business during and after the post-lockdown recovery period
So what messages should you be sending?
From my own research, some dental practices seem to be maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach. I’m still seeing numerous promotional messages about straightening teeth and whitening smiles. This leaves me concerned for the reputation of these practices.
At the moment, we’re particularly sensitive to messages we deem to be lacking in empathy. ‘Sales’ messages need to be treated with care during regular times. They seem distinctly out-of-step while families have concerns about the immediate health and wellbeing of loved ones.
Your patient messages therefore need to consider their current thoughts, challenges and feelings.
Here are 5 key messages to send to your patients now:
1. We’re still here for you
Simple and the most important. Let them know you are still open for business and haven’t just gone to ground. Provide them with the reassurance they are looking for from all their providers.
Let them know the process to follow with urgent and less urgent enquiries.
Be present. Be visible.
2. Self-help insights
Get into the head of your patient.
What are they concerned about? What do they need to be reminded of in order to help themselves while you can’t see them in person? How can they protect the wellbeing of their children?
When you start to answer these questions, you generate ideas for checklists, tips and insights you can share for their benefit.
3. Empathy messages
You currently have a great opportunity to connect with your patients on a human-to-human level. You can do this by sharing your own experiences of lockdown, those of your team members and what’s helping you deal with the situation.
Show your patients that you relate to what they are going through.
Empathise and be real.
4. Light-hearted messages
Your patients benefit from a break from the ‘heavy stuff’, just like you do. So once you’ve contacted them with vital reassurance and self-help insights, get creative and work in some light-hearted communications.
I’ve seen dental practices run drawing competitions, share amusing lockdown anecdotes and send their patients dental-related puzzles to keep their children entertained.
It is important to reinforce your messages of reassurance once in a while. Be guided by the length of the lockdown and circulate these again in a refreshed format, as appropriate.
You should also upload all your ‘lockdown’ content onto your website and contact your patients to remind them of where they can review it in their own time.
Do contact me with your thoughts and questions on this area. I’d be delighted to discuss it further with you.
Dee Gerrish MCIM PGDip
Business Consultant / Marketing & Business Development Manager