This article is part of our series about improving your dental practice. You can find the links to the other articles at the bottom of the page.
If you own a dental practice, you probably already know the importance of recall appointments. Dental recall allows your practice to maintain a constant flow of patients. It also keeps you and your dental team up to date on the status of each patient, allowing you to provide the best care at every appointment.
However, even if you know the importance of recall or re-care appointments, you may be unsure about the best ways to inform and remind dental patients about scheduling their subsequent appointments.
Thankfully, the Weave platform allows you to send automated text messages, phone calls, and emails to patients using previously created dental scripts. You can also use Weave to display more patient information when they call, customize any phone experience, and view call analytics to see how your phones are impacting your business, (to learn more about how Weave phones can support your dental practice, click here).
Once you develop your messaging scripts, you can begin rolling out appointment reminders and patient communications at higher speeds. We’ve created this guide to help you understand what to include in your patient message scripts and how to connect with specific patient types to generate more appointments.
Also, check out our free webinar on how to help patients keep appointments by clicking the link here.
1. Patients Who Cancel Often or Last Minute
If your dental practice has been in business for long, you’ve probably accumulated a few patients who tend to cancel appointments more than others.
These patients may have busy, ever-changing schedules that require them to fit appointments into small gaps in their days. Alternatively, they may be patients with dental anxiety who have trouble getting to every appointment.
Whatever the case, if your practice has many patients who cancel often, you’re probably losing money as a result.
One way to reduce last-minute cancellations is to ask the patient what you can do to help them keep their appointment time. Sometimes, patients may simply need you to be flexible and push their treatment back by 10 or 15 minutes.
You can consider using this script to ask patients how you can help them keep their scheduled time:
“[Patient Name], we’re sorry to learn that you have canceled your appointment. We were looking forward to seeing you on [Date]. Is there anything we can do to help you keep your appointment time?”
You can use this script when calling patients directly or send it in a text message as soon as patients cancel appointments. If a patient responds that they simply cannot keep that appointment time, you can send a follow-up message that reads,
“I understand. I would be happy to reschedule this appointment for you. What days and times typically work better for you?”
Many practices also charge a last-minute cancellation fee to discourage patients from canceling fewer than two days before their treatment times. This fee may be especially effective for patients who regularly cancel at the last minute. Failing to implement some sort of consequence will only encourage these patients to continue canceling whenever they want to.
If your practice implements a cancellation fee, you can use Weave text-to-pay to make it easier for patients to pay this fee. This feature enables patients to pay from their mobile devices with a few clicks of a button.
Finally, you can also take a few steps to fill in the last-minute cancellation slots that inevitably pop up now and then. Weave’s Quick Fill feature allows you to keep a running list of patients looking to fill the next available appointment time. Any time you have a cancellation, you can send an auto-text to these Quick Fill patients inviting them to claim the open slot. Weave helps you automatically send patient reminders and fill cancellations quickly
The right scheduling solutions can help your patients keep appointments
Weave helps you automatically send patient reminders and fill cancellations quicklySchedule Demo
2. Patients Who Need to Schedule Routine Future Appointments
Your dental office can also create a script inviting patients to schedule recall appointments. In the dentistry world, hygiene recall appointments are recurring appointments that allow dental professionals to review patients’ general health and oral condition and recommend necessary treatments.
Recall appointments are essential to your business’s profitability. Retaining existing patients is much easier than continually accumulating new patients. Because dental treatment is ongoing, you can capitalize on the fact that your existing patients will need to keep coming back to maintain proper oral health.
Weave’s scheduling features and digital forms can make it easy for patients to schedule their own appointments for times that suit their schedules. With Weave, patients can view all of your available appointment times, schedule a new appointment, and submit their health forms online.
You can create a script to send to patients inviting them to schedule routine future appointments. Here’s a sample script you can use as inspiration:
“Hi, [Patient Name]. Our records show that you are due for an examination and cleaning appointment around [Date]. Scheduling routine cleanings is important to your oral hygiene. You can schedule an appointment at this link, or call our office at [Phone Number] to speak with a receptionist.”
Sending this automated appointment reminder can save your team the pain of calling each patient directly and maximize your recall hygiene appointments.
3. Patients Using Self-Pay Option
Patients who pay for their appointments out of pocket sometimes fail to make the necessary payments on time. Occasionally, patients simply forget to pay their dues until you remind them several times— limiting your practice revenue in the meantime.
One way to encourage patients to make on-time payments is to send them an automated text reminder a specified amount of time after their appointments. For example, you could send the first text as soon as they leave their appointment. This text could read,
“Hi, [Patient Name]. Just a reminder that your remaining balance after today’s appointment is [Balance]. Your balance is due by [Date]. You can pay online at [Link] or over the phone at [Phone Number].”
One of the best ways to encourage patients to make timely payments is to offer several payment methods, allowing them to choose the most convenient one. With Weave Payments, your patients can pay their dental bills right from their smartphones, allowing them to pay overdue balances without being physically in your practice.
Weave Payments also makes it easy for you to see which patients have outstanding balances and automatically send text reminders to these patients. Weave’s payment dashboard provides a quick, clear overview of every patient’s payment status, reducing late and missed payments.
Additionally, Weave Payments can handle all of your payment processing and merchant services, allowing you to maximize productivity and efficiency for other essential tasks.
4. Patients With Overdue Appointments
Using a patient management system is an excellent way to keep track of which patients are overdue for appointments. Reaching out to these inactive patients can help you maintain profitable patient retention rates and show patients that you care about their oral hygiene.
With Weave, you can sort and filter your patients by last appointment date to see which patients have gone the longest without a dental care appointment. You can also automatically send reminders to patients who have gone more than six months without a cleaning or exam to remind them to schedule.
For example, you can use the following template to reach patients with overdue appointments:
‘Hi, [Patient Name]. It looks like you’re overdue for a dental cleaning and exam. Your doctor recommends scheduling a cleaning once every six months to reduce your risk of cavities and gingivitis. What days of the week typically work best for your schedule?”
Patients can then respond to these text messages with their own texts. Your employees can review their responses and send follow-up texts with more scheduling information.
Patients who are already overdue for appointments may not be willing to schedule appointments on their own. In some cases, it may be more effective for your team to call these patients and suggest appointment times over the phone rather than through text message.
Additionally, stressing the importance of scheduling an appointment can create a sense of urgency that encourages patients to go ahead and schedule. You may want to add other incentives to your message, such as discount codes, to encourage them further.
Overdue appointments can quickly lead to lost patients. However, being strategic and purposeful in your communications with these patients can create the best chance for them to schedule treatments with your practice again.
5. Patients Who Commit To Scheduled Appointments
You should not only be communicating regularly with patients who miss appointment times and fail to make payments. Instead, you should also prioritize communications with the patients who show up for their scheduled appointments time and again.
While you don’t necessarily need to reward patients for showing up on time, you can take steps to improve patients’ loyalty to your practice. Loyal patients tend to be responsible, long-term patients.
One way to create a sense of loyalty with your patients is to ask them to leave reviews of your practice. Studies have shown that requesting a favor is an excellent way to build loyalty to your brand. When you ask patients to leave a review, you not only ask a favor of them, but also invite them to reflect on their opinions of your practice.
Asking patients to leave reviews may feel a little awkward. One way to reduce this awkwardness is to send every patient an automatic text as soon as their appointment ends, inviting them to review your practice.
You can use this script in your review reminder texts:
“[Patient Name], we enjoyed seeing you today for your appointment. We would appreciate it if you would take a few minutes to share any feedback about your experience with our team.
Your feedback can help us improve our practices and help prospective patients feel more confident choosing our office. Would you mind leaving a review at this link? Thanks in advance, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.”
This script addresses a few critical factors involved in requesting reviews:
- It reminds the patient about your practice
- It details why you want the patient to leave a review
- It emphasizes that leaving a review will only take a few minutes
- It uses an appreciative tone, highlighting that you view this request as a favor
- It points out that the patient could be helping future patients through their review
- We recommend pairing this review request template with the Weave Reviews platform to streamline the patient review process. You can use Weave Reviews to send this templated text to patients and include a link to leave a Google or social media review.
Weave Reviews also makes it easy to manage any reviews your practice receives. With Weave, you can receive a notification every time new patients leave reviews of your practice. If you notice any negative reviews, you can immediately reach out to these patients to inquire about their negative experiences.
Asking patients to leave reviews can make them more likely to commit to their scheduled appointments and help them feel a sense of loyalty to your practice, increasing their retention.
6. New and Existing Patients Needing General Info
You can also use a text message and call template to respond to new patients requesting general information about your practice. Sending prompt communications to these individuals can help you convert leads into new patients. It can also show that you strive to make patients feel comfortable and welcome at your office.
Patients can typically request information in person, through a phone call, over an email, or through an online form. In any of these instances, you can use the following template to respond to their requests:
Hi, [Patient Name]. Thanks for reaching out for more information about [Topic]. I’d be happy to answer this question for you. [Provide Answer]. Do you have any other questions I can answer?”
If the patient asked a straightforward question, it’s best to answer their question directly rather than making them jump through additional hoops to receive the information they need.
However, if a patient asks multiple questions or your staff does not have time to address every common question you receive, you can redirect patients to an FAQ page on your website.
Your website should be an informative resource for patients to read related posts about:
- How to address common dental problems
- The types of restorative dentistry services you offer
- Warning signs of dental cavities and disease
- Your dental training and licenses
- When children should see a dentist or hygienist for the first time
If your team is overwhelmed with customer inquiries, you can also send an auto text response with a link to your FAQ page, then respond with a more personalized message when you have time.
7. Patients Needing Emergency Scheduling
When patients contact your office for emergency scheduling, they may already feel stressed and overwhelmed. As a result, your team should do everything you can to show them that you hear their concerns and will try your best to fit them into your schedule.
You can use this script when patients reach out for emergency scheduling:
“Hi, [Patient Name]. We want you to know we’re doing everything we can to fit you into our schedule as soon as possible. Our next available appointment is [Date and Time]. We can offer you this appointment time and add you to our Quick Fill list if another slot opens up. Would you like to take this appointment time?”
Adding patients to your Quick Fill list can help you fill available slots from missed appointments and minimize lost revenue. This script also makes it clear that you are willing to go above and beyond for emergency patient care.
8. Please Patients Wanting To Reschedule With Overdue Balances
When patients have overdue balances, your staff may hesitate to schedule future appointments with them. After all, if a patient has already failed to pay for a previous treatment, this places them at a higher risk of evading additional balances.
When patients reach out to reschedule their appointments but already have overdue bills, we recommend addressing their balances first. For example, you can use this script:
“[Patient Name], I’d be happy to help you reschedule this appointment. First, I’d like to remind you about your overdue balance of [Amount]. You can make this payment by text message or over the phone. Would you like me to help you set up a payment plan to pay this balance?”
This message indicates the importance of paying their bills before seeking further treatment with a clinician at your practice. It also offers a solution that may make them more likely to pay their balance.
Your behavior and communication toward patients can go a long way in promoting patient retention and marketing. Using the above scripts can show your patients that your doctors, dental hygienists, and administrative staff are professional, caring, and committed to creating a positive patient experience.
Once you have created your scripts, you simply need to add them to your Weave platform and specify when to send them to specific patients. Watch a free Weave demo to see how we can help your dental practice communicate better and more efficiently.
Check out the other articles in our “Improving Your Dental Operations ” series:
- 6 Impressive Dental Waiting Room Ideas
- How To Calculate Your Dental Practice Valuation
- Looking To Open A Dental Office? Here’s Our Dental Office Cost Breakdown
- 4 Dental KPIs That Every Practice Owner Should Know About Their Practice
- The Insanely Efficient Dental Scheduling Template Tips