“Wiggle Words” That Kill Case Acceptance
Are you getting the case acceptance that you want from your patients? Do you hear your patients saying this? ”I’ll check my schedule and call you back.” or, “Let me talk with my spouse and I’ll let you know.”
The average case acceptance rate for dentists is only 23%! How would you like to be 70% or 80%?
There are several keys to effective communication with your patients that will inspire them to want the dentistry they need. One of those keys is to stop saying some specific words and phrases that kill your case acceptance rate.
First of all, it is crucial that you communicate with your patient in ways that convey the urgency and importance of the dentistry they need. When I listen to dentists do new patient exams, I usually hear them use “wiggle words” that actually diminish the importance of the dentistry.
These are some of those words and phrases that kill your case acceptance rate.
- I Recommend – “Mrs. Jones I recommend that you get a crown on that tooth.” The implication here is that another dentist might recommend something different. This often leads the patient to think that they should get a second opinion, or just wait on doing the crown since it is only a “recommendation” and not really a necessity.
- Possibly, Probably, I Think, Think About – “Mrs. Jones you possibly need a crown on that tooth.” “Mrs. Jones I think you might need a crown on that tooth.” “Mrs. Jones you should probably think about getting a crown on that tooth.”
All of these words totally diminish the need for the treatment. It implies that the dentistry is not really that important and something that is optional.
- Watch It – “Mrs. Jones I see a crack in your tooth. Let’s just watch it for now.” What are you going to watch it do? Is it going to miraculously heal itself, or is it going to get worse? Would it be better to fix it now or wait for a chuck of the tooth to break off and possibly need a root canal too?
- Small, Little – “Mrs. Jones you have a small crack in your tooth.” “Mrs. Jones you have a little cavity.” This gives the impression that if it is small or little, then why bother with doing anything right now? Why not just wait until it is a real problem and fix it then?
- Consider – “Mrs. Jones you should consider getting a crown on that tooth.” This implies that she can also consider not getting a crown on that tooth. This leads the patient to think that this procedure must not be very important since the dentist is only asking me to consider having it done.
- Might, Maybe – “Mrs. Jones we might be able to do a root canal and post on that tooth, or maybe an implant would be better.” As you well know, there are a lot of clinical parameters to consider when treatment planning a case. Most patients don’t understand this. They believe everything is “black and white”, so you should communicate in a way that matches their belief. As in above example, if you “think out loud” the treatment plan you are considering in your mind, it can sound indecisive. This often leaves the patient wondering if they should proceed with the treatment since you sound unsure of yourself.
- Teaching Dentistry – “Mrs. Jones, see those dark spots between your teeth on the radiograph? We call that interproximal caries. We restore this with a dental material called composite that is bonded chemically and mechanically to the tooth structure.” Do you think Mrs. Jones really cares what you call the cavity between her teeth, or how the filling material works? Do you think she will remember what you just taught her 5 minutes later?
Don’t you think this would make more sense? “You have some cavities between your teeth that need fillings.” If you confuse your patient by trying to teach them dentistry, they will often make no decision. There is an old saying in sales…”Confused people don’t buy.”
You and your team communicating effectively to your patients will go a long way to increasing your case acceptance rate.