Trust is essential to any successful relationship, and the relationships between dentists and patients and dentists and their team are no exception. Patients entrust their oral health to their dentists, and it is essential that dentists prioritize building a trusting relationship with their patients. Dentists and their professional care team work seamlessly together only when trusting relationships exist.
What is Trust?
Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
Trust is the glue that holds all relationships together. When broken, it can be patched but never wholly remade. Strong trust is critical for a successful dental practice. In a society that trusts less than ever, earning and maintaining trust should be a top priority.
Building Trust with Your Team
Why should patients trust you if your team does not? Building trust with your team is essential for a dentist. Everyone on your care team and support staff must have confidence in your knowledge, professionalism, and integrity to work with you without problems. How can you build trust with your dental practice team?
- Be Transparent: Be open and honest with your team, and share your vision, goals, and challenges. This will help them understand your thought process, and they will feel more connected to the practice.
- Lead by Example: As a dentist, you should set an example for your team. Show them how to communicate with patients, handle difficult situations, and maintain a positive attitude.
- Listen Actively: Listen to your team members’ concerns, ideas, and feedback. This will help you understand their perspective, and they will feel valued. When they have legitimate concerns, address them promptly and make needed changes or improvements.
- Provide Feedback: Regularly provide your team with constructive feedback. This will help them improve their skills and feel more confident in their work. A good guideline is to praise team members publicly but offer corrective or constructive feedback in private.
- Invest in Team Development: Offer your team members opportunities to learn and grow. This will show them that you care about their professional development and encourage them to stay with your practice. Ask them to recommend education or development opportunities that would benefit them most.
Intentionally working to build trust with your dental practice team demonstrates their value to your operation and builds team unity and commitment. Building trust with your team is a significant investment in your practice and its success.
Building Trust with Your Patients
Patients that do not trust you will find another dentist. You only get one chance to make a first impression and build trust. To begin a lasting, trusting, and profitable relationship, take these steps with every patient.
- Introduce Yourself: A brief moment to introduce yourself and enjoy a quick chat with every patient makes a strong impression. Be sure to do this before the hygienist begins their work, so your first introduction is not marred by actual dental work, sharing bad news, or outlining treatment costs.
- Treat Every Patient as a VIP: Each patient is unique and should be treated as a special guest. They have specific desires, needs, concerns, and even fears about the dentist. Treating them as unique and adapting your approach helps form a strong bond.
- Listen to Your Patients: Before any treatment discussion, listen to their concerns and questions. Make sure you understand their question or problem before offering an answer. This will help build a rapport with your patients and show them that you care about them as a person and their oral health.
- Explain What Is Happening: Knowledge is power. Take the time to explain procedures or treatments in detail and answer your patients’ questions. Use precise language and terms that are clear. Spell out any procedure you recommend and illustrate how it will help them.
- Show Evidence: Along with sharing information, show visual evidence that backs up your diagnosis and recommendations. Patients cannot see most problems in their mouth, so accurate dental X-rays let you point out problem areas that need treatment. Seeing is believing; patients who see dental issues with their own eyes are more likely to agree to your recommendations.
- Address Problems Promptly: No matter how good you are at your job, you’ll likely get some negative feedback. If a patient has a genuine complaint about the treatment they received, do everything in your power to resolve it. Remember, many people view dentists with suspicion and believe your primary goal is money, not their best interests. Admitting and correcting mistakes builds trust and shows you care about your patients.
- Follow Up: Follow up with your patients after any procedures or treatments to ensure they are healing correctly and to answer any additional questions. A kind call from a team member asking about their condition and if there are any questions also helps them remember your dental practice.
Building trust in dentistry is essential for building a successful practice. Your team and your patients need to feel comfortable and confident in your abilities and integrity.
Learn more about building your dental practice and more with Strategic Practice Solutions. Contact us today to learn more.