I recently received an email from one of the top learning institutions in the United States asking my opinion for an upcoming article.
The article was about what dentists should look for in patient-education resources, such as brochures, in order to improve patient understanding. The assumption was that brochures and other education materials helped dentists improve case acceptance.
The question got me thinking about all the poor advice we’ve been told inside the dental industry. Too many dentists struggle to find patients or improve case acceptance because they follow the same poor advice. The truth is nobody comes to you or accepts treatment recommendations because of your pamphlets.
For decades, we’ve been told if we explain the treatment procedures in detail or show patients images of their teeth, they’re more likely to say yes.
That’s such a false belief. Patients don’t come to you or accept treatment because of detailed explanations or pictures.
What Causes Patients to Accept Treatment Plans
Think about the process through which someone makes a decision to purchase a car. I’ve been having problems with my car recently. My exhaust, air conditioning, and window . . . the cost to repair my eight-year-old car didn’t make sense, so my husband and I decided to get a new one. We were sick of feeling like we were throwing good money after bad. We wanted to not worry about something going wrong. We wanted peace of mind.
When people shop for cars, they don’t care about the marketing materials. What they care about is how the car will impact their lives. They care about how they’re going to feel in the car.
If they’re shopping for a luxury vehicle like a Range Rover with sport tires and a jet-black interior, they might want to feel classy and powerful. Or maybe they want a funkier and fancier red interior to feel excited and fresh. They might daydream, “People are going to think I’m a celebrity rolling by.”
If they’re considering buying a Mini Cooper, they might get excited about driving a cute, modern, contemporary, sleek car. It’ll make them feel cool but responsible.
The same is true in dentistry.
Nobody accepts a treatment plan because of brochures, pamphlets, or pictures.
People accept treatment plans based on emotions.
How to Immediately Improve Your Case Acceptance Rate
If you want to immediately improve case acceptance, you need to stop relying on marketing materials and start getting patients to an emotional place where they actually want the treatment.
When you hand patients marketing materials, they feel like they’re being sold to. They don’t want the treatment.
When you help them get to an emotional state where they can imagine how much better their life will be if they get the treatment, they will actually want the treatment.
How can you get people to that emotional state?
Listen to their concerns and tell them about what their life will be like after the treatment.
Recently, one of my patients who needed two crowns commented about how I was going to be rich after he got his crowns done.
We all have patients like that, don’t we?
This patient was particularly frustrated, but I explained to him that I don’t care about or need his money. I don’t base my treatment plans on how much money they would make me.
I continued that my goal with dentistry is to change lives. In fact, many patients leave my practice with such a transformation that they start to cry.
We are changing lives in my practice. We give people back feelings they haven’t felt in a really long time, if ever. We give them their confidence back. We give them their smile back. We give them functionality back. We help people feel a part of society again. We help them feel great about themselves.
I explained that he might actually cry when we were done because I wanted to change his life, too. After completing the crowns, he would be able to eat anything he wants. He would have the confidence to go anywhere he wanted and not have to worry about his teeth. He will have that peace of mind. That’s my goal, I explained.
I took him to an emotional place where he could feel what life would be like with his treatment complete.
People think if we give patients a pamphlet or show them a video detailing all of the steps that go into getting a crown done, they’re going to accept their treatment. Going back to the car example, we know that’s not true. We know people buy cars based on the emotional connection they make with the car and how they will feel after the purchase. They don’t want the car. They want the feeling of driving it and the freedom of having it.
They want to feel cool or powerful. They want to take amazing vacations and know everybody is going to be comfortable. They want to know their kids are not going to be all on top of each other because they have enough space. They want to have a reliable car they can drive with their family and know won't break down.
The Role of Pamphlets, Brochures, Videos, and Photos
I want you to stop thinking about pamphlets, brochures, videos, and photos as case-acceptance tools. That said, there is a place for them in your practice, just not a primary role in case acceptance.
You need to get to patients’ emotions first. Only after they feel what their lives will be like after they get the treatment will they be open to receiving the information in your materials.
Thus, before showing them that stuff, get to the bottom of why they’re in your chair in the first place. Ask them how they would you feel if they could chew with their back teeth again. Talk with them about the how their teeth are impacting their day-to-day life. Ask them how it would feel if they didn’t have to worry about those things again.
If someone comes in with a toothache, ask how great it would be to never have to have that pain again. Then talk with them about how important that is and how you focus on changing lives. If your patients have been moved to tears like mine have, share that with them, too.
Tell them stories about other patients who experienced a transformation like they will. For example, you might share a story of a patient who couldn’t eat normally for years because they had no back teeth. You could talk about how happy he is to finally have full use of his mouth again.
You could also share how another patient was finally able to throw away her dentures after thirty years. You could talk about how she literally started to cry in your chair because she had her dignity back. She didn’t have to take out her teeth while lying in bed next to her husband every night anymore.
When you tell those stories, patients will want those feelings.
Only then do you show them brochures about the treatment. Many times, they’re so committed to their emotions by that point that they don’t even want to see the brochures. They've already decided to move forward with the treatment.
In my case, the “I’m going to make you rich” patient got right on board and realized the crowns weren’t about money but giving him the confidence and peace of mind he so desperately wanted.
Making Emotional Connections
When you start making emotional connections for your patients, you will immediately see an improvement with case acceptance. Talk with your patients about what’s going on in their life. Talk with them about the problems with their teeth. Ask why they haven’t fixed them. Ask how it’s impacting them.
Get to the real reason. They’ll tell you if you give them a safe place of understanding to open up.
Then talk about the treatments that can help them achieve the emotional transformation they want.
The more you do this, the more lives you’ll be able to help change.
TAKE ACTION TODAY:
If you want help improving case acceptance in your practice, check out the team of expert coaches, training, and resources we offer in our signature Delivering WOW Platinum Mastermind Program.
You can also join our upcoming Marketing & Practice Growth Challenge where you’ll learn how to launch your next successful marketing campaign to get new patients through your doors — then you can finally practice better case acceptance and put this week’s printable to good use! Learn more about the challenge here.