September 2012, Volume 33, Issue 8
Published by AEGIS Communications
Six Steps to Increasing Case Acceptance
Dentistry is still feeling the after-effects of the recent recession. According to the Levin Group Data Center™, 75% of dental practices experienced production declines during the last 4 years. Even as the economy has begun to turn around, many practices are still struggling to regain pre-recession levels of production.
The last 4 years have made one thing clear—we have entered a new era of dentistry. This means that dentists must operate their practices as highly efficient businesses.
In the past, dentists could be relatively successful with only limited business knowledge. This is no longer the case. To thrive in today’s economy, practices must implement step-by-step systems that increase production.
Case Presentation Matters More than Ever
One element that has an overwhelming impact on a practice’s bottom line is the case presentation system. In the past, dentists would recommend treatment and patients would readily agree, especially when it came to need-based procedures.
Today, patients are slower in their decision-making, even for necessary dental care. Instead of saying “yes,” patients require more time to think about the proposed treatment and discuss it with their spouse or another decision-maker. In addition, more and more patients will refuse treatment outright.
The following six strategies can help practices quickly increase case acceptance:
1. Use Value Creation Scripting™
As a result of the recession, consumers are more reluctant to spend money. In response to changes in consumer psychology, Levin Group developed Value Creation Scripting™—an approach that trains team members to not only communicate the appropriate information, but also to influence patients in a positive manner. With Value Creation Scripting™ in place, the team is more empowered to provide high-quality customer service to patients and increase acceptance for need-based and elective treatment.
2. Improve New Patient Experience
New patients are crucial to increasing production. As the economy improves, more patients will be looking to resume dental care. It is important for dentists to make their practice a destination for new patients by creating a unique experience and systemizing the entire new patient experience, from the first phone call to the first visit to future appointments. Every stage of the new patient experience should be documented and scripted for maximum effectiveness. To succeed in the new economy, practices need to treat every patient like a VIP. The practices that exceed expectations during patient interactions will be the ones that achieve greater case acceptance, receive more patient referrals, and experience continual increases in practice production.
3. Do Not Focus on Technical Facts
Emphasize the benefits of treatment and keep to a minimum the number of technical facts presented. Dentists are technical people; many of them become so excited about the clinical details they learn, that they cannot wait to tell their patients. Dentists simply forget that patients are generally not very interested in the clinical aspects of dentistry and care mostly about how the treatment will benefit them. Doctors who get bogged down in technical details find it difficult to motivate patients to say “yes” to treatment. Remember, always make it about what the treatment will do for patients.
4. Treat Every Patient As an Individual
One challenge of being in practice after a while is that all case explanations can become mechanical. After all, how many times can one explain a composite, crown, or bridge? Unfortunately, many case presentations begin to sound almost as if a recording is playing, and there is very little excitement, motivation, or individualization.
One way to break this cycle is to make it personal. At every appointment, the doctor and team member should learn one new thing about each new patient. At the time of case presentation, doctors need to reference some of those personal facts. By referencing this information, they can individualize the case presentation before it even begins. Patients who feel such a connection may have a higher sense of belief, trust, and value for the practice and the recommended treatment.
5. Ask the “Commitment Question” During Every Case Presentation
The “commitment question” is an extremely effective concept that can increase case acceptance. While there are multiple steps in presenting a case and achieving 90% case acceptance, the commitment question can help dramatically increase the number of patients who accept treatment.
Levin Group recommends dentists ask this question during every case presentation: “Mrs. Jones, would you like to have this done?”
On the surface, the commitment question does not seem all that powerful. But once asked, the commitment question compels patients to consider the full benefits of treatment and its impact on better oral health. One of the concepts taught by the author at all seminars is that whenever the brain is asked a question, it will always provide an answer, even if it is not verbalized. When the commitment question is asked, the patient’s brain will always answer. Regardless of what the answer is—yes, no, I need to think about it, I need to check with my spouse, etc—the brain will answer the question.
The reason why the commitment question is so powerful is that patients will usually verbalize what they are thinking, creating an opportunity for further discussion. The commitment question should be a standard part of every case presentation, and if the rest of the case presentation has been done with the right systems and scripting, the number of positive answers will be impressive.
6. Implement a Comprehensive Follow-up System
In today’s economy, patients often need a second opportunity to say “yes” to scheduling an appointment or accepting treatment. Following up with patients shows them that the practice cares about their oral health and results in increased case acceptance for recommended treatment. It is important to call patients who do not schedule treatment following a case presentation the next morning. This can be set up by saying to the patient, “Mrs. Jones, what time can I conveniently call you tomorrow morning?” By following up, the practice gives patients a second chance to say “yes” to treatment.
Improving case presentation is one of the fastest methods of increasing practice production. These six steps can help practices remake their case presentation system. The more effective the system, the better the results.
Visit the Levin Group Resource Center at www.levingroup.com, a free online resource with tips, videos, and other valuable information for running a more profitable, efficient practice. Connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (@Levin_Group) to learn strategies and share ideas.
About the Author
Roger P. Levin, DDS
Founder and CEO
Owings Mills, Maryland