Understanding Patient Psychology

 In Clinic Growth

What separates me from any other dental marketer in the entire world is my in depth understanding of consumer behavior and human psychology. In this post I’ll explain some of the basic principals surrounding dental consumer behavior.

To get the most out of this post, you need to understand the 5-step process that every consumer makes before making a purchase decision. Most of it seems obvious – hang in there, it’ll all come together by the end of this post! 

The 5 Stages of Making a Purchase

Need Recognition: “My tooth hurts” – In this stage the consumer acknowledges some kind of problem.

Information Search: “How can I get rid of my pain” – In this stage customers seek out information or methods that will eliminate their pain. Some people may talk to their friends or read up online about over the counter medications and toothpastes for sensitivity. Ultimately, most people with eventually decide to see a dentist.

Evaluation of Alternatives: “I should see a dentist” – In this phase of the buying process the customer knows that they are going to see a dentist and focuses on WHO to go see. The customer will have a set of buying criteria to determine who to go see. Subconsciously most people have a few criteria that are really important and others that aren’t so much. Buying criteria may include proximity to their home, ease of access, whether their insurance is accepted, perceived quality, etc. Often patients get information by asking their friends or researching nearby dentists online.

Purchase Decision: “I choose this office” – In this stage of the buying process the consumer decides which office they are going to go see. Typically this decision is made as a result of a direct referral, a conversion optimized website, or a rock-star receptionist who answered any questions (objections) and closed the deal (converted the call into an appointment).

Post Purchase Evaluation­: “Wow – what a visit!” – The last phase of the buying process is deciding if they made the right decision. If the customer is happy you should be able to leverage them with rebooking’s, referrals, and reviews. If they had a bad experience they may write a negative review or tell their friends not to visit you.

So now that you understand the consumer decision process. Let’s focus in on the BUYING CRITERIA – ultimately addressing these points will result in the consumer choosing you over someone else.

What are people looking for?

Let’s start by understanding that each individual may have a slightly different set of buying criteria and that what one individual really cares about another might not.

Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes. What are they really looking for?


CriteriaMeasurementEvaluationUsual Importance
Insurance AcceptedYes / NoCall or WebsiteVery
ProximityCommute timeWebsite / GPS10 – 15 mins alright
Perceived QualityRead Reviews Online, Visit WebsiteGoogle, Yelp, Other Review SitesVery
Service OfferingYes / NoWebsite or CallVery
Appointment AvailabilityCallDepends on Individual
ParkingYes / NoWebsite or CallNot Much
Value / PriceCall or SiteFairly

Exercise: Think about your target customer. What do they care about? Which of their buying criteria do you currently satisfy? Which of their criteria do you not satisfy? Why not? Is that specific criteria something your target audience cares a lot about? If so, you should improve your business by satisfying it. What about your competitors – do they satisfy that criteria? Ultimately you have to come up with OBJECTIVE reasons for why someone should pick you and effectively communicate that on your website and in phone calls.

Proof Points

I like to think of proof points as badges of honor. What are you proud of? What makes your different? Here are some sample proof points you might want to consider:

  • 25 years in business
  • Voted #1 Dentist in the city by…
  • 5 star rating across all major platforms, from over 100 reviews
  • Obtained an additional 50 CE credits
  • Professor at University

So now that you understand the consumer decision process and a bit more about proof points and buying criteria, let’s talk about SEQUENCE.

In what sequence should I focus my time and money?

When it comes to investing your money, it is really important to flip the funnel upside down and focus accordingly.

  1. Post Purchase Evaluation – Before you spend any money driving traffic to your website, you need to make sure your patients have an awesome experience. Otherwise they won’t refer their friends and rebook and we spent a bunch of money on a low value patient. Little things like greeting a patient when they walk in, hanging their coat, bringing them tea, etc. can go a long way. I always think about how much more I like flying first class compared to economy – As far as the treatment goes, pretend you are the consumer – you would want clear communication, honest feedback, and an emphasis on care. Don’t be afraid to invest in technology, equipment, and staff that can take your service experience to the next level.
  2. Purchase Decision – You need to make sure that your website is doing its job and converting clicks into calls and that your front end is doing their job converting calls into appointments. Make sure both emphasize why your office is better than your competitors. Address buying criteria and use proof points to clearly communicate WHY someone should choose you. Invest money into training your team and have a bonus structure in place so that they are motivated to do the best they can. As far as converting website traffic, look no further, that’s my job! Book a complimentary call with me and we can go over how to optimize your site.
  3. Evaluation of Alternatives – People research online, mostly on Google and often from a phone. Make sure you are coming up when people search for relevant keywords and that your site is optimized for mobile devices you’re your business provides a great experience, it’s time to give me a call and let me work my magic.

What are you waiting for?

I love action takers. Click on the button below to schedule a call with me. Let’s chat about your goals and come up with a plan to grow!

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search