You want to get your patients into your office, but the first step is getting them to make an appointment. A lot of people don't particularly enjoy visiting the dentist. So how can you persuade them to make the dental appointments they need? You need to know how your patients like to be scheduled.
The most important thing is that your scheduling works for them. Of course, it needs to work for your office as well, but patients—like all people—are most likely to schedule appointments when it's most convenient for them. Here are some ways to make scheduling appointments as convenient as possible:
Make scheduling easy for them. No one wants to call to make an appointment only to get an answering machine message telling them to call back during business hours. If you don't have an answering service, part time receptionist in the evenings, or another way to schedule appointments through the phone, find one!
Let them schedule online. Technology is your friend. Particularly for younger generations, scheduling appointments online provides unprecedented convenience. If you have an online scheduling tool, patients can go to your website at any time—even midnight on a Saturday—and simply click "Make an Appointment." The ease of which they can make an appointment for a time that works for them will help bring them into your office regularly. And, many people are shy about making phone calls, so an online option encourages them to make an appointment without needing to speak with your office.
Provide them with reminders. Reminders can serve two purposes. You can remind patients who have not been in the office for a while that they are due for an appointment, or notify them of upcoming appointments so they don't forget. A lot of people are simply forgetful, and will appreciate an email or text reminding them to make an appointment or that they have an appointment.
Make sure you're available and prompt, too. This is more to ensure that they continue to schedule appointments with you after you finally get them into the office. Nobody wants to make a dental appointment, get to the office and then wait for an hour to be seen. The best way to convince patients to return in a timely manner is to make the visit as enjoyable as possible. This starts from the time that they arrive. Having your receptionist greet them professionally, and getting them into the chair quickly, goes a long way in keeping patients happy and coming back regularly. Also, make sure that your hours align with theirs. A dentist who is only available when most people work, or when many children are at school, will have a harder time scheduling patients than one with weekend or evening hours.
In the end, getting patients scheduled really depends on making them feel like the scheduling process is convenient for them and is a good experience overall.