Patient loyalty post-pandemic
Nicolas Coomber explains that it might be easier to achieve than you think.
Patient loyalty is something that can perplex even a dentist with years of experience. Loyal, satisfied patients are every practice’s best marketing tool because word-of-mouth is powerful. Whether it’s on social media or in a school playground, if anyone is asking, “Do you know of a great dentist?” you want your practice to be named.
Research published over 20 years ago still has relevant points about patient loyalty today. It notes the “substantial gap” between some “patients’ expectations and dentists’ understanding of those expectations”. It refers to a separate article, in which a group of patients and a group of dentists each proposed eight criteria for satisfaction, which were then compared. Patients had ranked “explanation of procedures, sterilisation/hygiene and dentist’s skills” as most important (all these criteria had been proposed by patients) with “up-to-date equipment, decor and practice image” as least important (all these criteria had been proposed by dentists). Factors that relate to quality of care were more significant than being “cutting-edge”, even back then. What is also interesting is how high hygiene rates; this is backed up by another patient survey from 1994, where nearly 70 per cent of patients said “explaining infection control” was a crucial quality for an “ideal dentist”. Since Covid-19, all practices have enhanced their infection control protocols, but protective measures have long been key to patient satisfaction and establishing their loyalty.