The days of technical skills being the only factor that mattered are behind us. One of the most significant worries patients have when visiting a dentist is whether or not they’re able to trust them with their and their family’s care. This is especially true for patients visiting a dentist for the first time. In fact, trust plays a fundamental role in healthcare encounters.
Patient satisfaction is drawn not only from a dentist who’s technically competent but one who’s able to communicate effectively and with transparency. Building trust entails understanding the three core drivers behind it: authenticity, logic, and empathy. When a strong foundation of trust is built, it helps to create a more productive work environment. It also improves both patient and customer retention rates.
Here are ways to target and develop each one of the three core drivers behind trust.
Merriam-Webster defines authenticity as being “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.” While professionalism is obviously essential for dentists, those professionals that cleanly and entirely separate their personal and professional selves can risk becoming cold, unreachable, or unrelatable to their patients.
Dentists who are able to ease their patients’ worries by being authentic increase their level of trust in them. An increased level of trust leads to an increased level of patient satisfaction.
When the authenticity of a dentist or a business is in question, team turnover, a drop in patient retention rates, and a lack of clients gained through referrals can be expected. A practice’s most trusted source of marketing is that which is done by its most loyal patients through word of mouth. This can be done only when the patient feels safe and comfortable enough in a dentist’s care to recommend them to another loved one.
Some ways to achieve authenticity are by incorporating photos of family, friends, or pets in the office or on the practice’s website. This can go a long way in easing dental anxiety in both new and returning patients.
Apart from easing patients, inducing warmth into a work environment by focusing on authenticity eases other team members as well. This helps to create an environment for them where they feel excited to work day in and day out.
Competence and sound judgment work together to create sound logic. Patients trust dentists who are able to convince them of their competence. One way to accomplish this is by involving the patient in the discovery or diagnosis of their dental health. When patients are made aware of any issues they may be facing and the consequences of not getting treatment, they’re much more likely to be cooperative. This collaboration has become a vital part of dentist-patient relationships.
Codiscovery (patients and dentists going through the process of discovering the patient’s dental health together) helps increase case acceptance. In turn, this improves patients’ oral health.
This can be achieved by explaining to patients their diagnosis, treatment plans and alternative options they have, and all pertinent fee information.
Patients thrive when they feel their well-being is genuinely cared for by the medical professional on whom they rely. When there’s an uncaring attitude in a medical professional’s service, patients may feel too demotivated to pursue treatment or care for their own health.
A lack of empathy impacts team members as well. In an entire team, technical skills will most likely not be on the same level. As a result of this variation, more experienced and more technically competent dentists may end up feeling frustrated with team members who may need longer to understand the same thing.
Micromanagement can be severely damaging for team members. It limits their commitment to the practice they work for. Ultimately, a toxic culture could be the result, which leads to growing turnover rates.
Some ways to build a culture of empathy are by being present and mindful while at work and especially during treatment. Checking your smartwatch or phone while being around other team members or patients can come off as rude or detached.
When talking to patients and especially when detailing their treatment plans to them, it’s crucial to remind them that their health is important to you. Discuss their concerns about time and cost.
Research shows a decline in medical students’ communication skills as they progress in their education and then their career. No matter how technically competent they may be, this will affect the quality of their service.
Dental professionals, including dental temps, can improve their service by focusing on nurturing their patients and getting them to trust dentists.