How to Improve Dental Patient Experience with Text Message Marketing

by Alexa Lemzy, TextMagic

SMS marketing could be the vital ingredient you need to optimize your dental patient experience. According to a study by The Daily Egg, the rate at which people open branded text messages is a whopping 98%. This is a glaring indication of how powerful text message marketing can be for any business that implements it.

For dentists, patient interaction is key within and outside the office. Hence, there’s no better way to stay in touch with your client than via SMS.

Here are 5 ways to improve dental patient experience with text message marketing

1. Schedule appointments with more effective reminders

After scheduling appointments, you can use an automated texting system to send periodic reminders and minimize the occurrence of no-shows. About 30% of people who have visited the dentist in the past 2.5 years choose text messaging as their preferred reminder method.

Hence, this method is one of the best ideas to improve dental practice by avoiding loss of revenue because of missed appointments. Mary Higgins, owner of Canyon Creek Dental said that text messages worked as an affordable way to decrease missed appointments.

Be polite. Scheduling doesn’t have to be a one-way conversation

Let your clients have a say in your scheduling process. When it comes to choosing an SMS solution for the healthcare sector, it’s best to select one with a two-way texting option. Two-way texting excels in this field because, unlike one-way texting, you can have a back and forth conversation with patients. Your patients can easily plan and reschedule new appointments when they can’t make the previous ones.

Text messages can turn negative situations into positive opportunities

Because SMS has a higher read-rate (98%!) than other means of communication, it’s great for informing patients of last-minute openings to optimize staffing and schedules. Clients on your waiting list will be happy to have their due dates moved up. Also, if you know anything about how to run a successful dental practice, you already know the waste of manpower that comes with missed appointments.

2. Engage your patients outside the office

Text messaging is an effective way to maintain the line of communication between patient and dentist. Sending home care tips and instructions from the dentist will go a long way to improve dental patient experience. You could create a program that reminds your patients to keep up with their medication or premedication before a visit. Such programs are especially helpful to at-risk children because they need regular care.

SMS newsletters can be extremely valuable

Create a list of clients and prospects who sign up with their names and phone numbers. By sending regular SMS newsletters about dental health, you’re providing valuable content that they would appreciate. Take flossing as an example. Despite its many health benefits, only one in ten Americans floss every day. SMS marketing affords you the ability to remind your clients to maintain good dental hygiene by flossing and brushing regularly.

Personalized messages have strong emotional impact

You can take your efforts a step further by personalizing all your messages, including newsletters. A good way to achieve this is to start every text with the patient’s first name. Generally, people are more receptive to messages that add a bit of a personal touch because it makes them feel valued. It also prevents your messages from coming across as spam. Of course, you’d use automation software to pull this off and save time.

Show that you’re happy to see them healthy

Be sure to include tips that prevent additional dental problems and make your instructions as simple as possible. Your patients will be delighted to know that you genuinely care about their well-being. The feeling that comes with such attention will greatly improve their perception of your service.

3. Use SMS as a call to action

The prevalence of smartphones has increased the popularity of texting and made it one of the best ways to improve dental experience amongst your patients. Statistics show that 69% of consumers would choose to contact you via text. These numbers also suggest that more than half are not opposed to receiving promotional messages via SMS.

Why do consumers love text messaging so much?

  • It’s convenient
  • It only takes 13 seconds to send a text while an average phone call takes 90 seconds
  • They can send all their inquiries at once and get answers to all of them

To leverage this preference, you should add a one-click SMS option on your website. It will serve as an effective call to action because it makes it easy for prospects to reach you. Very few people will react positively to a call to action button that redirects them to a lengthy procedure.

Another tip is to always include an SMS option on all your promotional content to let prospects know you are easily accessible through that channel. There’s no better way to enhance dental patient experience than offering convenience.

4. Convey info about urgent changes

Perhaps the most vital aspect of maintaining a good relationship with your patients is the trust they have in your services. Patients have better relationships with companies or people they can count on. Disappointing your clients is the fastest way to lose them. However, no one can predict the future so situations may arise that force you to cancel plans or change terms. Possible scenarios include:

  • public holidays
  • personal emergencies
  • maintenance downtimes
  • new policies
  • increase in price rates
  • office transfer

The aim is to ensure your clients are fully aware of key changes in your services and how they will affect them.

Everyone understands that plans change

Text message marketing provides you with a channel to notify patients about unforeseen changes in scheduling. They may feel slightly disappointed, but that is nothing compared to how they would feel if they showed up to an appointment without receiving attention.

Don’t just notify them once

Send multiple notifications to convey the urgency of the message and draw their attention to its importance. Statistics show that 78% of US consumers say texting is the fastest way to get to them. If you consider this fact, you’ll understand why texting is the best for urgent notifications.

When it comes to sending notifications about sudden changes, one of the best ideas to improve dental practice is to implement a two-way SMS communication. This makes it easy for patients to respond or ask questions. They will understand that their opinions count, even in unforeseen circumstances.

5. Handle dental emergencies via text

There have been cases where professionals claim that patients were more comfortable texting their dentists during emergencies. Some of the most common dental emergencies are:

  • Swelling of the gum
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Toothaches
  • Knocked-out teeth
  • jaw injuries

Always provide your clients with the option to reach a dentist via SMS during such emergencies. When they do reach out, respond ASAP. You could keep them calm and give simple instructions like rinsing the mouth with warm water. Also, try to give them the necessary advice to prepare them for an appointment.

Remember to follow up on their issues even after the situation is under control. Consider sending messages like “do you still feel pain?” or “has the bleeding stopped?” to see how you can assist them further. They’ll appreciate the extra care and attention you give to them.

Always remember to keep your texts HIPAA compliant and avoid giving out sensitive information in your SMS. Once you’ve successfully implemented SMS marketing in your practice, you can expect an increase in productivity because you’ll have more time and energy to focus on patients.

Being a good dental practitioner is important, but it’s the overall experience that encourages patients to patronize your services. Hence, keeping your patients happy will lead to more lasting business relationships and referrals.

About the Author

Alexa Lemzy is a blog editor at business texting software provider TextMagic. She is passionate about mobile marketing, customer loyalty building and local business growth. You can connect with Alexa on Twitter!

Interested in contributing to Oral Health Group’s blog? Email for more information!