Imagine you take your car in for an oil change. Your mechanic, in addition to changing your oil, inspects your engine. When your car is ready, your mechanic explains his findings: “Your belts are just a little thin and I noticed something small with your engine.”
You ask a few questions and your mechanic reiterates that it’s just something small. After you pay for your oil change and walk out the door, your mechanic turns to his partner and says, “I can’t believe that customer didn’t schedule to get his belts replaced and have his car tuned up.”
If that was your mechanic’s recommendation, why didn’t he say it? Why did he qualify his findings with “just” and “small?” And why did the mechanic fail to put a timeframe around when he wanted you to schedule the repairs?
You would have responded differently if your mechanic had said, “Your belts are wearing thin and they need to be replaced. And your car needs a tune-up. I would get this done before your next oil change.”
A similar scenario plays out in dental practices. Dentists and teams often qualify their findings with “just” and “small.” And as front office teams will tell you, patients do not schedule for small decay, and patients are more apt to cancel appointments when they think it’s just a cleaning.
Patients appreciate precise language. They also expect dentists to communicate the need for treatment; if you leave the timeline open ended the sense of urgency is lost.
When you diagnose dental treatment and you want patients to schedule, please remember to communicate in the same clear manner that you appreciate from other professionals.