How your Team’s Poor Communication Skills Hurt your Brand

You do everything you can to promote and protect your brand, whether solo practice or DSO. And yet something as seemingly simple as poor communication can sabotage your best efforts and damage your brand reputation.

Statistics tell us that average dental treatment case acceptance is only 30-50%. Half the patients that visit a dentist and are treatment planned leave the practice without accepting this treatment. What patients say about this, and to whom, can help or hurt your brand. They may complain to friends about the outrageous treatment plan they received when they “only went for a cleaning.” They may whine to their friends that they are being gouged. They may splash their complaints all over social media. Or they may share how thorough the dentist was, how much they like the practice, and how they plan to move ahead.

Words are powerful. The phrases and sentences, the scripts you use are what your patients will remember and repeat. These can be diminishers, lessening the importance and urgency of needed treatment. Or worse, thoughtless talking and careless communication can actually repel patient compliance. Yet, mindful intentional words and carefully chosen phrases can provide powerful connections to patient emotions, which is (studies prove) how people make buying decisions.

These communication soft skills are not taught in school. Patient education is taught in school which is often clinically overwhelming and does not connect emotionally. Additionally, we now live in a culture where most folks are glued to their electronic devices sending emojis, rather than having verbal and visual communication. Yet, this is what is needed to “sell” dental treatment. Your patients need one-on-one, eye-to-eye compassionate conversations. The entire team needs to be congruent in how they each speak to patients. Each team member must learn the art of “focused communication” rather than casual conversation.

What is your case acceptance %? Are you in the 30-50% range? Are half your patients walking around with diagnosed disease? Is this helping or hurting your brand?

Here are three communication tips to help increase your case acceptance:

  1. Ask don’t tell. Ask good open-ended questions to learn patient values and discover common links. Use these values to customize treatment presentation. Clinical conversations come only after emotional links and relationships are created. Create a list of good open-ended questions during a team meeting and practice with the team until they become very comfortable.
  2. Prioritize treatment plans. Organize treatment into three categories: urgent, preventive, esthetic. This will reduce patient overwhelm. It will help patients be a part of the plan, which studies show patients want. Patient involvement in their treatment increases patient compliance. Finally, a prioritized treatment plan is an ongoing “blueprint” for future treatment that the rest of the team can refer to and support. Every patient visit, every team touchpoint, is an opportunity to educate, ask open ended questions, and move the patient forward in their treatment, while ensuring ongoing re-care.
  3. Monitor your case acceptance. Know your % and dollar amount of outstanding treatment. Check your practice management software for these KPI reports. Systematize a process for keeping track of patients as they progress through their treatment plan.

Make case acceptance your priority today. Train your team with the communication soft skills necessary to connect with patients emotionally. Learn how to “sell” your dentistry elegantly and effectively.

It all comes down to one word: COMMUNICATION

Written by Janet Hagerman of DSOs Done Right℠ ( An an international consultant, speaker and author, Janet is a DSO development expert helping DSOs and dental groups establish a foundation for scalability with profitable, consistent clinical and business systems. For speaking, coaching, training or a free copy of Janet’s Culture Clarity Process℠, contact

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