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The 5 Secrets of the Reluctant Patient. What the people at 1-800-DENTIST® can tell you after handling 4 million dental referrals.

As you know, there are over 100 million Americans who don’t see a dentist regularly.

Dentaltown
June 2004

You may not be aware that when people finally do decide to go, they often call 1-800-DENTIST. While there are a wide variety of opinions about dental advertising in general and about the 1-800-DENTIST program in particular, there's no denying the company's impact on the dental industry. Since 1986, 1-800-DENTIST has spent over $150 million promoting the importance of regular dental office visits to consumers- more than any other single entity in the nation.

"We've processed more than 11 million telephone inquiries," says Fred Joyal, CEO and co-founder of Futuredontics, which owns and operates the 1-800-DENTIST brand. "These calls have taught us a lot about what people are really thinking and feeling when they decide to find a dentist. We've distilled our analysis down to five secrets about these ‘reluctant' patients."

1-800-DENTIST came to this conclusion after conducting a joint study with Harvard University on patient behavior. The study revealed consumers have very few resources available to help them make an educated decision when choosing a new dental professional. This makes the decision itself a stressful event for a number of reasons.

Fred explains that first of all, consumers have no way to make an assessment of a dentist's education or clinical skills. And that even if they did know what to ask, they would be hesitant to ask the dentist directly. Secondly, when people don't know someone who can recommend a dentist, they often turn to resources such as the phone book or an online dentist directory. But, Fred continues, randomly picking a dentist in this way tells consumers almost nothing about the doctor. "There is an overabundance of choices with little differentiation from one dentist to the next, dramatically increasing the chances that people will be skeptical about treatment plans and fees."

To provide consumers with an educated method of finding a dentist, 1-800-DENTIST compiles an extensive profile on each member. This provides callers with details of a practitioner's background, education and training, as well as special services and technology available at that practice. Fred is also quick to point out that unlike the Yellow Pages, 1-800-DENTIST can update each practice's information in real time. 1-800-DENTIST also regularly verifies the validity of its members' licenses, checks for clean malpractice records, and requires positive peer recommendations prior to acceptance into the program.

1-800-DENTIST further insures a positive experience for each caller by requiring its call center employees go through two weeks of training in dental terminology, the company's technology systems, and most importantly, its corporate philosophy.

"In the end, our primary goal is to gain the consumer's trust and to build confidence in their new dentist. Only when an operator can accomplish this on each call does he or she become a ‘referral specialist'," says Ron Joyal, chief marketing officer. "The reason why we train our operators the way we do is that we know how critical it is to project a positive image over the phone. It helps people feel more at ease about something we know they don't feel comfortable about."

About 1-800-DENTIST®

1-800-DENTIST has been the nation’s premier dental marketing company since 1986, helping thousands of successful dentists grow their business. Beginning as a lead generation company for dentists, the program has delivered over 7 million new patient leads to member dentists. Today, 1-800-DENTIST is a total marketing resource for dentists, offering multiple products to help dentists attract, retain and optimize patients. In addition to its flagship PatientProducer® program (new patient leads), the company also offers PatientActivator® (automated patient communications and online marketing), ReputationMonitor® (online reputation management), ReActivator® (dormant patient reactivation) and WebDirector® (websites and online identity).

Contact: Betsy Roddy, 1-800-DENTIST, 310-215-6535