Timing is everything! When discussing payments and financing options I am often asked when is the best time to discuss money.
How many times have you received the dreaded phone call to your office asking, “How much do you charge for X,Y, Z?” Being too eager to share those prices over the phone you may risk losing the patient all together because they are just “phone shopping.” It also doesn’t allow you to add value or differentiate your office from your competitors. However, when you get that patient in your office and give them a top notch amazing customer service experience you’ve just increased your chance of them becoming a patient at your office.
A study completed by Health First Financial Patient Surveys concluded that 77% of patients feel it is important or very important to know cost prior to starting treatment. In addition, 40% of millennials said they would be likely or very likely to switch providers if they were offered no interest financing.
So when is the best time to talk financing? The first experience on the phone should be, light, lively, friendly and informative. Once the patient arrives at your office they should be welcomed in the kindest way possible. Then all records should be taken so the doctor can be very thorough in his/her treatment planning.
77% of patients feel it is important or very important to know cost prior to starting treatment.
After the clinical needs of the patient have been established and addressed, your patient may need some financial guidance. It is important to be empathetic and understanding, as this phase of the purchase can be anxiety provoking for some. By this point in the appointment you should have a good rapport with your patient and feel confident discussing payment options, with the ultimate objective of getting the patient to say an astounding, “Yes, where do I sign?” Your job is to help fit this treatment into your patients budget.
It is important to try to alleviate all barriers. Let the patient know that since they know their financial situation better than you do, it’s best to work together and talk through the options together. If there is more than one treatment plan always show the highest priced quote first. This strategy gets the patient more comfortable with the more moderately priced treatment plan.
When discussing pricing make sure you are building value and letting the patient fully understand how this will make their life better. Explain how treatment will be convenient, how it will look, how they will feel. Discussing features and benefits is just as important as the treatment itself. They must know the why before they buy.
It is imperative to always have an option for patient financing. It can be in-office or 3rd party financing. Ask the patient if they have set aside money for a down payment, ask if they prefer a high down payment and smaller monthly payments or vice versa. If a patient has money set aside always offer an attractive incentive if they pay in full. Do they have Flex spending or HSA?
It is also important to have some flexibility with your patient, this is not just a one size fits all plan. Be creative with financing. Ask if the treatment plan financing options fit in their budget, if not, go back to the drawing board. See if someone else can help them with the cost of treatment, maybe you can help if you break the down payment in half and give them an extra month to pay. Theodore Roosevelt summed it up best “People don’t care how much you know until, they know how much you care.”
Work with your patients budget and they will in turn share their experience with others. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Lisa Garcia is a Denver based independent writer and has been a successful dental/orthodontic treatment coordinator for over 16 years. Extensive training in patient satisfaction and a strong passion for patient connection plays a key role in her success.