5 Ways Dentists Text to Schedule More Appointments
oYou want to be the leading dental practice in your area, but you need to create great patient experiences and keep seats full. The problem is broken communications keeps customers from being able to:
- Easily contact you when they discover your practice or site
- Receive scheduled reminders for their appointments
- Reach out to you if their condition changes or they need med adjustments
And that’s because only 5% of your calls are answered and 15% of your emails are opened.
But don’t worry, I’m going to show how texting can drastically decrease your no-show rates and increase your number of appointments with its speed and accessibility.
Sound good? Let’s get started!
Why should your dentist practice be texting?
80% of people prefer to text businesses, like dental practices, because texts are A) less intrusive than phone calls and B) much faster than email responses.
In fact, texts boast a 99% open rate and a 90 second average response time! Which means more feet coming in and out of your doors.
65% of patients avoid going to dentists because they feel like their dentist either doesn’t care about their needs, or doesn’t respond fast enough to their concerns. So if you can get back to them ASAP with texting, they’re much more likely to want to work with you.
I'll show you how you can make your patients feel cared for, and how to improve your communications, all through text messaging.
Here are five ways your dental practice can text to schedule more appointments.
1. Connect with patients directly from your website.
You need a way to get potential patients to stay on your website, instead of moving on to the next dentist listed on Google. People always have questions when they’re looking for a new dentist, and if your website doesn’t immediately answer those questions you’ll lose their attention.
In fact, most people will leave a website in 15 seconds if they don’t find the help they need.
But SMS Chat makes it easy to hook your website’s visitors by giving them the chance to ask you any questions.
SMS Chat is a widget at the bottom right-hand corner of your page that you can customize to say something like “Text us!” or “Text to schedule an appointment.” The patients who use the widget receive your responses as texts on their cell phone, which is where the rest of the conversation lives.
This is great for two reasons:
1. The business who responds first to a question is typically the one who wins the patient’s business
2. You both get each others numbers for potential follow ups
An autoresponse feature will even send potential patients a text saying their message was received, in case you’re not immediately available to answer their question.
“Thanks for choosing Kirkland Dentists! Text us your name, question, or potential appointment dates, and one of our staff will respond shortly.”
2. Improve no-show rates with scheduled appointment reminders.
You want the chairs at your dental practice to always be full with healthy smiles, but high no-show rates hurt your clinic’s productivity. In fact, the national average for no-show rates in dentistry is 15%!
That’s anywhere between $70 to $200 lost per no-show, and a huge chunk of business you could win back if you texted your customers appointment reminders. 38% of patients miss an appointment because they forgot they had one—and that’s why text reminders have been found to decrease no-show rates by over 14%!
PC: Software Advice
Improving no-show rates is as easy as sending a text, like:
"Hi Tom, it’s Jess at Atticus Dental. Looking forward to seeing you for your check-up at 2:00 pm tomorrow!"
With texting you can also schedule these messages in advance. You can even use our Text Merge feature to send the same reminder messages to multiple clients. All it takes is a CSV spreadsheet, and you can format group messages like:
"Hi [name]. This is a reminder that your appointment at Atticus Dental is scheduled at [time] on [date]."
These Text Merge messages act as Bcc email, which means your patients won’t be able to see everyone’s replies. This keeps things conversational, and patients will be able to ask you follow up questions or ask to reschedule if things have changed.
“Because of our SMS reminders, our no-show rate is well under 10% (the industry average is about 20%). No shows are lost money you never recover. We also offer specials via SMS from time to time.” - Dr. Alex Roher, San Diego Botox
3. Receive patient updates anywhere at anytime.
Patients may need to contact you after their visit, if they had heavy work done like wisdom teeth removal or a root canal. They can have questions or important updates, like:
- Their bleeding won’t stop
- Their swelling increases
- Their pain spikes
- Their meds are too strong
- Their filling came loose
All dentists are legally and professionally obligated to respond to these emergencies if they occur, but you need an after hours phone line to do so.
If you text from your business phone number, your personal phone number can remain personal, and your after hours line can stay strictly dedicated to patients. Allowing patients to text you also saves them the trouble of struggling through a phone call with a sore mouth.
Text Request also gives you the option to text from our main dashboard, Chrome extension, or cellular app, so you can choose which channel best suits your preference. Any of your staff will also be able to respond to these after hour questions, since every conversation is either marked as resolved or unresolved.
4. Request more reviews to rank first in Google.
You need reviews for your dental practice to rank higher in Google searches, but patients often forget to leave you any or they ignore your emails asking for reviews. You can’t give up though, because even a business with ten reviews has a 50% higher conversion rate than those with none.
Texting can make gathering reviews a quick process, especially since 70% of patients will leave a review if you directly ask them, like:
“Hi Randy, it’s Marrissa as Kirkland Dental! Thanks for choosing us for all your regular checkups. Will you please leave us a review at: https://bit.ly/31VKaME”
5. Make scheduling payment reminders painless.
Collecting payments is a necessity, but also a source of stress for both your team and patients. That’s why you need a consistent and clear way to send payment reminders.
Texting can be just that if you copy and paste links to where the patient needs to pay in the message. This keeps your staff from having to make uncomfortable phone calls that put patients on the spot, and instead gives patients a much less intrusive way to address their invoice.
The number one reason people don’t pay is because they forget, so your reminder texts just need to be short and sweet to get a response.
“Hi Clara, this is a reminder that the bill for your last visit at Atticus Dental is due at the end of May. To view and settle your invoice, visit: https://bit.ly/31VKaME”
But is texting HIPAA compliant?
Here’s what you need to know for HIPAA and texting:
1. It's fine for you to message your patients, as long as they consent to being messaged and you're using a compliant platform that saves and timestamps every message. That means you can't pull phone numbers from a list and start messaging them at random. Customers have to opt-in by texting you first or by providing you with their phone number.
2. Picture messaging (MMS) is still not HIPAA compliant. So stir the conversation to a secure channel if patients try to send pictures of protected health information (PHI).
Need a compliant platform?
Text Request has multiple layers of security and encryption to meet and exceed security standards set by:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)
- The Privacy Rule, Security Rule, and Omnibus Rule
Learn more about our HIPAA compliant accounts here.
Start Booking More Dental Appointments With Texting
Smooth communication means more patients coming in and out your doors with healthy smiles! If you’re ready to try out texting for your communication solution, we offer free demos and training to help you put together the most effective strategy.
Try out our SMS Chat to connect with a member of our team, or enter your number below to see if your number is eligible to start texting!