By Lisa Philp, RDH, President of Transitions Group North America

Patient loyalty, retention and case acceptance is dependent on how you connect with them on the first impression.  You have one chance to make a favorable impression, beginning in the first 3-4 minutes of an interaction.

Whether you like it or not, patients form opinions of you based on their own judgements and assessments (such as how you treat them) and decide if they have any connection with you. Their perception of you, upon first impression, sets the stage for their dental experience, judgements and behaviors. It is very difficult to reverse a negative first impression to a positive one, so make the first count.

Patients base their connection with you in their judgement of your compassion for them as a person, your satisfaction with your job, your credibility. They decide if they should continue to do business with you.

 First impressions begin on the telephone, which we know is a dental practices artery to the world and our most valuable marketing tool. The person who answers the telephone has just a few seconds to create a favorable impression.

Be sure that your greeting is cheerful and enthusiastic, identifying the practice name and your name.  Don’t rush, or the caller on the other end might feel you don’t have time for them and their needs. The new patient call takes 12-15 minutes, when done correctly, to create a favorable first impression.

First impression is also face to face with normal human judgements made about your physical appearance such as clothes, shoes, body height, weight, extremities, hair, face, skin, jewelry, makeup, accessories, clothing, bodifications and overall personal hygiene.

Take the time to be clear on what the practice’s “image policy” is for the team regarding uniforms, hair, makeup, jewelry, shoes, visible tattoo and body piercings (60% of millennials have at least one tattoo) and what will work to match your culture and the type of patients you want to attract and retain.

It takes a lot of time, energy and money to attract patients. For their first impression, make it have a positive impact so that they will choose you.