What Does The Consumer Buying Process Have To Do With A Dental Practice?

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Acknowledge Need

The first important step in the consumer buying process is establishing a need for your service, but more specifically a need for what YOUR practice offers over others. Some patients know they have this need already and will proactively jump over to the next steps in this process.  However, most patients need reminders that they need the dentist.  This is where proactive marketing comes into play.  You can be extremely targeted in your marketing, whether through traditional or digital methods.  

Takeaway:  Acknowledging need with marketing is an important part to start the buying process.  

Information Search

Once a need has been established, patients will move on to doing a little bit of research.  This is where those digital foundations come into play because your website is the number one resource for patient information BEFORE they call your practice.  Social media, review sites, and more are also places they will go to see what they can find out about your practice.  All of these places should be focused on giving insight into a professional practice and one that shows off its best features in a simple way.  In today’s digital world, the information search happens online and can happen very fast; make sure your practice is prepared.

Takeaway:  Your website, social media, and online reviews matter.

Evaluation of Alternatives

Often this happens simultaneously with the information search, but evaluating alternatives is something most patients will do. Don’t be surprised by this.  Prospective patients will seek out reviews of other dentists in the area.  They will go look at competitors websites and get gut reactions and information to compare.  They will go seek you out on social media to see if you’re legit.  In fact, many people will either private message or publicly ask for advice for a local dentist or doctor on social media.  Again, putting your best digital foot forward is crucial here so that you make a stellar first impression and shine above your local competition.

Takeaway:  Pay attention to your local competition’s digital footprint.

Purchase Decision

Finally a patient makes an appointment with your office.  Bingo!  Your practice stood out and passed that patient’s test in their practice selection process.  Many doctors think this is great!  New patients in the door means more revenue.  However, this is a crucial point in the process because you have to live up to the impression you gave that patient online.  The proof is in the pudding of what kind of patient experience they have at your office.

Takeaway:  Getting the patient is the door is one thing.  Treating them well while they’re there is another important piece to the puzzle.

Post-Purchase Behavior

Many doctors are so focused on new patients coming in the door, but do you know how much cheaper it is for you to retain patients, rather than constantly attracting new ones?  Patient retention is a far better longterm growth model and it starts with how the patient is treated in your office.  It’s followed up with a system for post-appointment nurturing.  After a patient is physically in your office (whether a new or longterm patient) you have a great opportunity to make them feel appreciated and use them to help you grow your own digital footprint.  This is a great time to ask for reviews because their experience is fresh in their mind and they are usually willing to give feedback.  Take advantage of this crucial window of time to help give your practice a great first impression online!

Takeaway:  Have a plan for gathering reviews that will be easily accessible to prospective patients online.

Valerie Morris