Finding the Right New Patients
Never underestimate the power of networking. It?s a strategy and skill that all successful businesspeople have mastered. The challenge, however, is time. For dental professionals, a significant amount of time is spent caring for patients and running a practice; networking, marketing, and ongoing patient communications tend to fall by the wayside.
It doesn?t necessarily have to be that way. Software is available to enhance your online presence, allowing you to market your practice by networking with other businesses in your community and turn their customers into your patients. You?ll also find tools that automate e-mail communications and text messaging, enabling you to better manage patient relationships.
The Power of Networking
Intuit Local, a module in the Demandforce online marketing and communication software service from Intuit, takes care of the networking for dentists while other modules in this web-based application integrate with a practice?s existing workflow to send e-mails and text messages.
Demandforce is used by many businesses such as veterinarians, optometrists, automotive repair shops, spas, and lawyers to name a few. ?We work with the best of the best,? states Darci Wingard, business development manager, Dental Division for Intuit. ?Think of this as a social media Chamber of Commerce where you?re able to leverage these other small businesses in your backyard to get your name out there.?
Every business that uses Intuit Local has customers who are prospective patients. When a salon client receives an e-mail from her salon via Demandforce confirming her appointment, she?ll see at the bottom various promotions and specials from other businesses in the area that are also using Intuit Local to expand their customer base.
Promotions and specials can be designed to connect the dentist with patients who might be willing to spend money on high-end cosmetic treatment or for anyone needing basic dental services. Potential clients also can see reviews for those businesses and connect with them in just a few clicks.
?Obviously new patients are huge, but we want to make sure they?re not just getting a new patient, but the right type of new patient,? says Wingard. Plus it?s non-competing. When Intuit Local displays a promotion for a dental office to another business?s network of clients, there?s never another dental practice in that communication.
Today, hundreds of thousands of consumers are connecting with businesses daily via Demandforce to request and confirm appointments online. That?s a large pool of patients who have confidence in that practice because it?s part of Demandforce?s trusted network.
Dr. Rinesh Ganatra of SoCal Smiles Dentistry in Rancho Santa Magarita, CA, has been using Demandforce for more than 4 years. With the addition of Intuit Local, he?s reaping more benefits from the program than ever before. ?Marketing is becoming more and more local, but the riches are in the niches,? says Dr. Ganatra. ?With Intuit Local by Demandforce you can have access to people in that network who you didn?t know wanted a service, and you?re exposed to all of those people you wouldn?t be exposed to before because they?re in that network.?
Reconnect with Existing Patients
While Intuit Local is the networking component of Demandforce, the foundation is the Communication Module. It?s not uncommon for dentists to be oblivious to the ineffectiveness of their marketing and communication efforts let alone know the return on their investment.
?When we ask them, what are you spending monthly, they?ll throw out a number and then when we ask, is that working for you, or what?s your return on investment, it?s literally quiet,? says Wingard. ?They?re spending $3000 to $5000 a month on something and they don?t know whether it?s working.? The Communication Module can help a practice rekindle relationships with existing patients who are past due for an appointment. Because a patient has been out of sight, doesn?t mean they should continue to be out of mind.
?The biggest bag of gold is sitting right inside their practice,? says Wingard. ?And the dentist isn?t even aware of it because their recall system is lacking and they?re not doing the proper things to pre-appoint.? The Communication Module functions as a safety net for the practice. For patients who are past due for an appointment, the program automatically identifies them and sends an e-mail, encouraging them to schedule their biannual hygiene checkup.
See the Results
Wingard has found that one of the biggest complaints dentists have about marketing is the expense, or they?re frustrated with the results of past initiatives. ?When it comes to marketing and business skills, some dentists are lacking and we?re there to help,? says Wingard. ?We?re all about boosting their profitability and growth.?
Demandforce provides extensive reporting and analytics. A practice can log in daily and see every communication, who it was sent to, the time delivered, if it was read, and what action the recipient took. ?The program saves everything and shows the date it was sent so the dentist can do more of what?s working and less of what?s not,? emphasizes Wingard.
Reviews rule in the Internet age and Reputation Module is the third component of the Demandforce software service. ?Reputation [building] is a big part of what we do and differentiates us from a lot of similar programs in the dental space today,? reports Wingard.After every visit, patients receive an e-mail thanking them for the business. Patients can then provide feedback or they can write a review. Only patients of record can submit reviews. Once the review is posted, the practice can choose to further engage with those patients by responding. Intuit has various syndication partners that take these certified reviews and stream them daily into popular review sites.
The consumers most likely to post a review are either the most satisfied or the truly unhappy. Rather than limiting reviews to the two extremes, the Reputation Module focuses on the group in the middle, a group typically missing from many review sites. ?We give those patients a stage and the practice is getting a true scope of the rating of that practice and the feedback,? explains Wingard. ?Now the dentist has a better understanding of what they might need to change or what they?re doing really well and need to continue doing.?
?With Demandforce sending out a scripted, automated message asking for feedback and then grading and monitoring that feedback and asking for a review, you get a lot more reviews,? says Dr. Ganatra. ?We?ve received over 300 reviews on each of our offices.?
Implementation and Support
Because Demandforce is a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service), implementation is quick and seamless. Once installed it runs off the practice?s management system and does automatic daily uploads. Total time for implementation and deployment is less than 24 hours. After installation, there?s a 1-hour training webinar.
Demandforce has a full support team along with Generation Demandforce, an online community for education, training, feedback, and support. ?Inside their portal they can e-mail our support team directly about issues or questions,? says Wingard. Users also can visit the service?s Message Boards to ask questions and share best practices with other users. Intuit has videos on every feature of the program along with advanced training and hosted consulting Webinars. ?Anything our customers need we?re there to help and support them,? says Wingard. ?We want to make sure they?re using 100 percent of the program and they?re doing it well.?
Building a Practice?s Online Reputation from the Ground Up
If a practice is going to invest in software technology like Demandforce to enhance its online reputation, an up-to-date and functional website is a necessity. Demandforce doesn?t offer web design or SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but they will refer clients to those who do so that the practice?s website will be in sync with what Demandforce is doing for them on the marketing, networking, and reputation building fronts. Some of those referrals will be to web design firms such as VivioSites, Prosites, and PBHS.
?Most dentists have some sort of a website and think of it as something they have to have, not necessarily something that they have to update,? states Anthony Giovine of VivioSites, a web design company that focuses on creating well designed, search engine optimized sites for dentists. ?There are a lot of outdated [dental] websites are out there and dentists wondering why they?re not getting more patients. We explain that your website is more like your first impression. If it?s outdated, not mobile optimized?which is critical today?and doesn?t work properly, that?s a reflection on you.?
?We have tried other website providers in the past, but their designs felt out-of-date, and they made it difficult to edit the content ourselves, which we feel is important in keeping the website up-to-date,? notes Dr. Richard Dennis, DMD, of Saratoga Smiles in Saratoga Springs, NY. ?We use VivioSites because it offers a very simple to use but powerful website that looks modern and professional, while providing powerful search engine optimization, specialized dentistry content, and other features that are essential for a great online presence. In our experience, VivioSites? ease of use, frequently updated designs, and friendly support make it one of the best solutions on the market.?
?And when Demandforce has clients looking for a dental website, they send them to us,? says Giovine. ?It?s easy for us to integrate Demandforce software onto our products. Out of all the companies we add to our website, Demandforce is by far the one that has the highest percentage of our clients so we feel they are credible enough for us to keep sending them more referrals.? Intuit is also an exclusive partner with Henry Schein Dental. ?We work closely with the Henry Schein field sales team,? states Wingard. ?We are another tool in their sales representative?s tool chest.?