10 easy ways to upset your dental patients

by | Jul 12, 2021 | Dental Office, Employer advice | 0 comments

No, I am not being facetious with the title of this post.

I mean this as more of a reminder.

These “easy ways” are traps that we often fall into due to the fact that we tend to have the same conversations with patients every day. It is easy to forget that a patient doesn’t know the ins and outs of getting a crown when we have done 17 in the last week and a half.

So this post is simply a reminder to take a step back, look at your office procedures and make adjustments to keep your patients happy.  

Here are 10 easy ways to upset your dental patients

#1 They don’t feel heard

It’s really easy to assume someone is just here for a cleaning or that their main concern is that back molar rotting away. But maybe that is not the case. Make sure to have your team ask your patients what their chief concerns are and then listen to them in full before replying or setting up expectations. They will be happy when they get all their concerns out, and you can get to work on what needs to be done. 

#2 They have to explain themselves more than once

If a patient explains to one of your front desks persons all their concerns and your front desk gal says, “let me get Kim,” and then the patient has to explain themselves all over again, they are going to be upset. You would be too. Train your team to finish what they started with a patient, even if they don’t have experience in that arena (clinical is a different story).  Your team will learn a lot, and your patients will be so happy they only had to explain themselves once. 

#3 They don’t fully understand the procedure

One of the biggest complaints patients have is that they didn’t understand the whole procedure. Some of it is them not listening, but I think sometimes we explain a procedure so much that we start to cut corners with our explanations. Make sure your layout for every appointment is needed, give them a realistic timeline, and put it all in writing. Ask them to confirm that they understand and have them sign off what you wrote up for the procedure. 

#4 You over promise

This one ties in with #3. Don’t over-promise on a procedure. If you don’t deliver, they are going to be upset and most likely give you a bad review.  People say the key to success is “Under-Promise, Over-Deliver,” and in dentistry, that holds very true. 

#5 You don’t check in on them after a major procedure

Again, you have done this procedure thousands of times, and you know what the healing process entails. But to your patients, this was a huge procedure, and they trusted you to do it. A quick call the following day to see how they are feeling will make them feel so cared for they won’t ever go to another dentist. 

#6 They were put on hold right away

If I call any office and they put me on hold right away, they have lost my business. I understand the front desk gets busy, but there is a way to handle inbound calls. I explain how to handle inbound calls when the front desk is busy in How you are unknowingly losing new patients.

#7 Long waits for their appointments

One of the biggest complaints I see on yelp is long waits. And yes, we run behind, and emergencies or late patients set the whole day back. If you find yourself running behind, try to reach out to your patients via phone before their appointment to let them know you are running behind.

#8 You don’t remember their life events

You see hundreds of patients a week, but your patients only see one dentist a few times a year. You are important to them, and they want to be important to you. Make sure your team is updating their charts with notes about the conversations they had with your patients while they were there. That way, you can ask them about their trip to Tahiti or how their new grandbaby is doing. It will make their heart swell. 

#9 You take too long to reply to their requests

If a patient calls with a question, make sure your team is getting back to them within 24 hours. Any longer than that, your patients are going to feel like they are getting the runaround. 

#10 You don’t take the time to introduce unfamiliar faces

Your patients chose to be your patients because of you and your team. When a temp or a new employee comes into the office, your patients could be skittish about it. Make sure to introduce any temps or new team members when your patients arrive.  You can find temps or new employees to hire on DirectDental.

There you have it. 10 easy ways to upset your patients. Hopefully, you aren’t doing any of these, but if you are, review this list with your team and make the appropriate changes to keep your patients happy.


Holli Perez

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