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Natalie Meeks
by Natalie Meeks Published Apr 14, '20

Guide to Engagement - How to Boost Virtual Consultation Usage


As we enter the fourth week of a nationwide COVID-19 shut down, nearly everyone we know has been forced to figure out how to use digital means to stay connected with friends, families, employers, colleagues, and providers. But within this struggle lies a silver lining.

More than ever, prospective patients find themselves with time on their hands to research your practice and with a distinct need for engagement. At the same time, the demand for dental and orthodontic work is growing into a backlog. 

So far, we’ve brought you strategies for staying engaged with patients through social media and communications tools as well as tips for preparing your practice for re-opening from one of the country’s leading orthodontists. Now, let’s talk about how you can best utilize your virtual consultation tool in this unique window of time to revolutionize your practice – both before and after the Coronavirus Pandemic passes:

Tell People About Your Virtual Consultation Option

The first step to conducting virtual consultations is getting the word out. 

Here are a few of the most successful approaches we’ve seen from practices:

  • Put a powerful call-to-action on your homepage (more about that below). This way, leads who come to your website know exactly where to go to get started with their care.

  • When leads call or email your practice, offer them the option and then walk them through doing a virtual consult or visit on your website. This is an extremely effective technique that can be used now as well as after offices reopen. To learn more, sign up for one of our webinars teaching Treatment Coordinators how to give patients a white glove treatment and leverage virtual consultations at the same time.

  • Tell your social media audience about your virtual consultations and visits option! These days, social media is where people go to engage with businesses and do their research.

Creating a Powerful Call to Action

First and foremost, it’s critical that you promote your virtual tool throughout your website or mobile app, including a clear call to action on your primary landing page. If you want online users to take action, you’ve got to interest, engage, and relate.

Here’s what you can do to make that happen:

  • Use action words. Remember, the COVID-19 crisis has forced a sense of “inaction” in so many lives. Virtual consultations provide the opportunity for tangible, actionable steps. Use phrases like “Schedule My Free Virtual Consult” instead of just saying “Virtual Consult.” Using the first person and words like ‘free” have both been shown to increase clicks.

  • Create urgency. This crisis will come to an end and offices will find themselves with a backlog of patients chomping at the bit (pun intended) to have their orthodontic needs met. Create urgency for leads by offering priority scheduling or even promotions like entering them in to win free teeth whitening. 

  • Get personal. Share your own experiences using technology to make real “human” connections with your patients. This isn’t just a form to file. It’s a way for you to get in front of the patient and build trust before they set foot in your office. One way to do this is to include a link to a welcome video that you’ve published to YouTube or Vimeo.

Personalizing Your Virtual Consultation Tool 

Your branding and expertise are what makes your practice stand out, and there are several ways you can customize your widget to maintain consistency with your practice’s identity. Incorporate your logo, brand colors, personal messaging, and slogans into the platform. You can even add a photo of the practitioner!

Once you’ve personalized the tool to fit with your practice, it’s time to collect data:

  • Begin the form with a non-invasive question like: ‘what’s your goal?’. This engages the potential patient in a positive mindset, immediately considering the benefit of your practice’s care.

  • Use image buttons to reduce typing. Traditional forms often force users to submit information exclusively by typing. Manually filling out forms is time consuming and increases the likelihood of user error, greatly reducing conversion.

  • What about contact information? Save this for the last step. This is where you’ll add fields for details like phone numbers and email addresses. (More on this in a few moments.)

Using Multi-Step Forms to Convert Up to 300% More 

Why? It’s a matter of psychology. When an online visitor is confronted with a long form they often say, “I’ll come back to this later” or decide that it’s simply too much work. On the other hand, when offered a short form, their first impression is less overwhelming. According to Venture Harbour, multi-step forms have the potential to convert, on average, 300% more than standard long-forms. When experimenting with transitioning from a basic WordPress contact to a multi-step consulting enquiry form, the Venture Harbour site witnessed a shocking 743% increase in leads (from 0.96% to 8.1% conversation rate.)

A multi-step form is exactly what it sounds like: a long form that’s been broken down into multiple steps to make an otherwise intimidating process undaunting. The remaining fields only appear after the prospective patient has filled in their preliminary information and selects an option like “submit” or “next.”. 

The primary advantage to multi-step forms is that you can begin your form with low friction, engaging questions. Once the user is invested in the process, you have the freedom to ask ‘sensitive questions’ (e.g. email address, phone number) on the final step.

Following Up Your Virtual Consultation

It may seem like this crisis will go on forever, but the truth is that life will resume normalcy and your office doors will reopen. In the meantime, implementing an efficient process to respond and follow-up is key to converting online visitors into new patients. Speed is key.

Here are a few ways to get ahead of the curve:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Your virtual tool will store user’s information so that you can immediately reach out to them. Timeliness is critical to getting patients in the door once your office reopens. The Northridge Group’s State of Customer Service Experience Report found that 40% of millennials (today’s decision makers) wait 60 minutes before they try to contact you in another channel.

  • Ensure someone is responding to emails and text messaging, even on weekends. The SmileSnap platform supports both email and two-way text messaging to ensure you are reaching both prospective and current patients effectively.

  • Add a page on your website that communicates what is happening in your office. If you have editing access to this page, add dated updates to this page about your practice’s status and the ongoing benefits of your virtual consult tool.

  • Invite users to follow you on social media. From there you can deepen your engagement.

In Closing

“Telehealth” is no longer just an emerging side-component to modern health care practices. Likewise, virtual consultations aren’t simply an optional “add-on” to your office’s contact options. A virtual consultation tool like SmileSnap holds the key to offering quality care and connecting with new patients both now, in the midst of crisis, and later, when normalcy has been restored to everyday life.

Need additional help maximizing the impact of SmileSnap for your practice? Click here to contact us and we’ll connect you immediately with your Client Success Specialist! And if you haven’t started using SmileSnap at your practice, click here to register!

Curious to see our platform in action? Click here to get a live 1-on-1 demo of SmileSnap and learn how it can be a game-changing solution for your dental practice.

Natalie Meeks
Natalie Meeks
Content Contributor