Rapport is defined by dictionary.com as “relation; connection, especially harmonious or sympathetic relation: a teacher trying to establish close rapport with students.
Knowing how to create and maintain rapport is critical to both cultivating connections with your patients and establishing trust in your care and the treatments you recommend to your dental patients.
Without connection and trust, your patients will unlikely be motivated to stick with their routine cleanings let alone accept dental treatments they need to maintain their dental health. If your dental patients don’t know or trust you they certainly won’t be recommending your services to their friends and family either. Suffice it to say, learning how to build rapport with your patients is pretty important.
Since hygienists spend most of their time with patients, the majority of the “rapport responsibility” falls on their hands. Knowing that rapport in the hygienist-patient relationship is important is one thing but knowing how to cultivate that rapport is another story.
In this week’s blog, we share with you 5 Quick & Easy Ways Dental Hygienists Can Build Rapport With Their Dental Patients.
Let’s dive in!
#1 Make An Authentic Connection
This might sound obvious yet so many dental professionals have a really hard time authentically connecting with others or rush through these important moments of connection because they are shy or too busy or XYZ.
Greeting someone authentically sets the tone for their visit and overall experience at the dentist office. Making someone feel at home can not only make their day but also change the way they view dental care entirely.
To make someone feel acknowledged you have to really connect with them. When you greet a patient make sure to look them in the eye, smile, shake their hand, greet them by name, remind them of your name and that you will be helping them today. Take your time with the greeting and be sure that you put “your stuff” aside so that you make an authentic connection.
#2 Get To Know Your Patients
After you greet your patients, ask them about what’s been going on in their lives. Take the time to get to know them by asking questions that inspire them to share their lives, hobbies, work, family, etc.
We can connect more quickly and cultivate rapport with patients when they feel you care about THEM not just their teeth!
After your patient leaves, write down 2-3 personal things that your patient shared so that you can remember and refer to them at their next visit.
Knowing that you remembered and cared about the things they shared will help make your patients feel seen, heard, valued and appreciated.
#3 Let Your Patients Get To Know You
It takes two to create rapport!
After your patient shares with you, return the favor. Of course, keep it professional (i.e. sharing about your hobbies, your new favorite show on Netflix, etc)! Perhaps you piggyback on their share and start a great conversation about family, favorite recipes, etc.
Taking time to be humans first and create these real moments of connection and conversation will help to put patients at ease when you do your dentistry as well as remind them that you’re a person too, a person that cares and a person that they can trust.
#4 Review Their Healthy Mouth Baseline At Every Visit
Rapport comes from consistency, connection, and communication.
If you want your patients to trust you when it comes to providing dental care and dental treatment recommendations then you must be consistent and clear in the objectives that you and the dentist have for their dental care.
This is where the Healthy Mouth Baseline comes in. The Healthy Mouth Baseline is a powerful tool that every dental practice should establish and use as a benchmark at every visit. This lets patients know how to gauge how healthy their mouth is and what they are aiming for in their overall dental health.
When you educate patients on what oral health means, consistently communicate the parameters of a healthy mouth and the overall role oral health plays, they understand the why behind the treatments you are providing and can better trust your treatment recommendations.
#5 Appreciate them!
Patient Appreciation goes a long way!
Just as you took the time to make an authentic and meaningful connection at the beginning of their appointment, take time to appreciate them at the end.
Let them know that you know they have a choice when it comes to choosing dental care and that you appreciate their trust in you and your team.
Before saying goodbye, refer back to something personal they said during the appointment and let them know that you can’t wait to catch up and hear more at their next visit.
Make sure that they exit the door feeling at home, appreciated, take care of and excited to come back!
These 5 tips, if practiced consistently, can help build and maintain rapport between you and your patients. We won’t be surprised in the least if these practices prove to make your day filled with a lot more meaningful connection and fun too!