There are many ways a dental office can become successful, but there is one thing that all successful offices have in common; successful dental offices have great patient treatment acceptance. You can’t be successful as a dental office if patients are constantly turning down treatment options or delaying care.
So why do patients turn down treatment? In a previous post, Dr. Katz, a practicing dentist for over 40 years and dental coach, explains that patients will often have objections that need to be overcome before they commit to treatment. Often these objects become apparent when patients ask questions after the doctor presents the treatment plan, and the mistake that many doctors make is feeling that when a patient asks a question that they don’t want treatment.
A lot of doctors will feel that when a patient asks a question, they do not want the treatment. But actually, when a patient is asking questions, it shows that they do want the treatment, but they have some sort of obstacle in their own life that they need help and overcoming.
One of the patient questions that come up most frequently, besides cost, is one relating to urgency – or the need of treatment at this time. It is common to hear it whenever a doctor leaves the room and the patient asks either the hygienist, the assistant or the administrator;
- Do I really need that treatment?
- Do I really need that crown?
- Could I do something less expensive?
- Could I wait?
- Could I not do it at all?
- Do I really need it?
Dr. Katz suggests the best tactic to overcome these urgency-based objections is to use the feel, felt found technique. You need to communicate to the patient that you understand how they feel, and connect their feeling with those other patients have felt. Then present what your practice has found when working with these patients. The strategy behind this tactic is to validate the patient’s objection and fear then establish trust that others have had that same question and you have also helped them to the right treatment decision. Dr. Katz gives an example of how he has responded to urgency-based objections:
Mrs. Jones, I understand how you feel. Other patients in our practice have felt the same way and asked the same question. Those patients that followed our recommendations have usually found that the treatment goes easier. The cost of the treatment is less. The discomfort is kept to a minimum, and the results are much better. The patients who hold off for one reason or another, oftentimes find that the treatment is more difficult, the cost may be greater, the fees are higher, it may be more uncomfortable during the course of it, and the results may not be as good. Which one makes sense to you?
Urgency objections are often coupled with either a fear objection or a cost objection. This is why it is important to be able to dig deeper and ask more clarifying questions. Understanding the root of their objections is essential to presenting the best solution. At the same time, make sure the patient understands that your office is not trying to sell them a procedure but guide them to what you feel is the best treatment option.
The solution to overcoming objections of urgency is to establish trust between your office and the patient. However, what if the patient is asking questions that hint towards an objection of trust? These questions may include:
- Is that something you normally do?
- Is that something you’ve done before?
- Do we have any assurance that something like this is going to work?
Dr. Katz mentions that objections of trust happen most often with new patients or when the doctors are younger in their career:
One of the best tools in overcoming a trust question, is asking a patient, would it be helpful to them to speak to another patient who has recently had the same type of treatment done and can tell them about a great experience?
This tactic he has used in his own practice many times. Though he explains that “when you offer that to somebody, 9 out of 10 will say, no, that’s okay. The fact that you’re offering that I have greater confidence. Let’s go ahead.”
But what about those 1 out of 10 patients who say that contact would be important? Dr. Katz mentions this has happened and luckily he was prepared. He expounds that he communicated with his administrator to get one of the previous patients on the phone and before the patient left he was able to connect the two patients.
And that was a real WOW to a patient and was a slam dunk for them in going forward with the procedure.
You should never quit when a patient raises a question that appears to be an objection. Rather, understand that these objections can be turned into opportunities that enable a patient to go ahead with treatment if you handle them in a scripted and predictable way.
Don’t let patients’ questions at treatment presentations be the end. Prepare to dig deeper and have answers ready when you have identified the correct objection. As you better prepare for patient objections and address them as they come, you will find that your treatment acceptance will increase and you will be able to provide better care for your patients. As the popular Benjamin Franklin quote, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”