Recalls are the life blood of your dental practice. Implementing an effective recalling system takes thought, research and tracking results to ensure it is the right system for your patient base.
Something that many advise, is to forward book patients for their recalls.
Here are three tips to encourage your patients to plan ahead.
1. Give a specific reason.
Unless patients are told otherwise, they will perceive the next recall as just another assessment. However, it is likely that the dentist has several areas that they want to review, as they see potential for problems to arise. For example, an area of pocketing, a cracked tooth or old restoration.
Share this information with the patient, stating “these are the three areas we will check next time to make sure your oral health remains stable.”
Give the patient a compelling reason to come back in six months. It increases the importance of booking the appointment straight away.
2. Stop saying “six months”.
Instead of saying to the patient, “let’s see you again in six months”, state the actual month. “I will see you in September to review those three areas.”
Saying the month is placing a firm time frame for the next recall.
3. Have the patient write the card.
Professor of Psychology and Marketing, Robert Cialdini, has performed studies that show people are more likely to attend for appointments when they write their own appointment card. It taps in to their desire to follow through on things they personally commit to.
We are seeing a lot of mobile phone use now, so fewer appointment cards are needed in dental surgeries. Patients opt instead to enter appointment times straight in to their calendar. Given Robert Cialdini’s findings, allow your patients plenty of time to enter the details of their next visit. Encourage them to also add the specific reasons in their phone calendar why they are coming back to see you. This also builds patient commitment.
When you implement any changes to your recall system, track the results. You will find that your practice and your behaviour has more influence than you think.