Dental Patient Communication: Live Chat vs. Chatbots

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The Connect the Doc Team

Many people depend on the internet as their preferred source of information and medium for communication. As a dentist, you can’t afford to be left behind. You need to find new and creative ways to digitize the way you communicate and share information with your dental patients. 

Dental Patient Communications is one of the most relevant topics in the dental industry right now. As younger generations get older, more dentists realize how important it is to be on the same page and platform with their new breed of patients. 

Millennials and Gen Z cohorts tend to spend a lot of time online, and if your patients belong to this cohort, you can be sure that they’ll visit your dental website first before scheduling an appointment with you or visiting your practice. In other words, your website is your opportunity to capture their attention and share as much relevant information as you can with them so you can earn their trust. 

Live Chat and Chatbots have become two key ways of engaging patients through dental websites in recent years. These tools are a great way to convert your website visitors to actual patients

However, many dentists struggle to decide which of these two tools works best for their dental practice. So, this article will differentiate between Live Chat and Chatbots for dental practices and share our suggestions on the best dental patient engagement and communication tool for you. 

What is a Live Chat?

Live Chat is a feature on your dental website that allows visitors, as well as your existing and prospective patients, to communicate with a member of your team in real-time right from your website. Simply put, live chat is an online communication and messaging channel that puts patients in touch with you or your dental team.

Using this feature, patients can ask questions about your dental services or practice or schedule appointments before stepping into your practice. This speeds up the process of patient acquisition and helps address any concerns prospective patients may have about your practice. It also improves your team’s productivity as they can attend to more patients in a short period. 

What is a Chatbot? 

A chatbot is a software application that conducts a conversation with your patients through your website or text messages without the participation of your team members. Chatbots are typically computer programs that simulate and understand human conversations to communicate fluently with patients. 

These tools use pre-programmed responses to attend to patients’ inquiries and requests. As such, they are created using an ‘if/then’ logic system to predetermine the best way to sway conversations and ensure that patients are led to desired outcomes. For example, depending on patients’ questions, they may be led to a blog post on your website to learn more about a topic and directed to contact your dental office. 

What is the Difference between Live Chat and Chatbot

As you can probably tell by now, Live Chats and Chatbots are fairly similar. Both tools work to engage patients, share relevant information with them and attend to their queries. They ensure that no patient communication falls through the cracks and as such, they are excellent lead conversion tools. 

However, how do you know which of these two tools is worth your investment? Before we get into that, let’s go over a couple of differences between Live chat and Chatbot. 

  1. Live Chat Requires Human Participation, Chatbot Doesn’t.

This is likely the most obvious difference between these two tools. If you have a Live Chat feature on your dental website, you’ll need to assign a team member or your administrative staff to it. This team member will be responsible for communicating through the online communication portal and would have to do so quickly otherwise patients might lose their patience and exit your website. 

On the other hand, Chatbots can communicate with patients without the participation of your team. These tools can start and end conversations naturally without the patient realizing that they haven’t been speaking with a human. 

With this in mind, if you opt for Live Chat, you should make sure there’s someone on your team who can be responsible for fielding requests coming through that channel. 

  1. Chatbots Can’t Respond to Specific Patients’ Requests.

Given that Chatbots require preprogrammed or prepopulated responses, you have to set them using best- or worst-case scenarios to predetermine how conversations will go. But there will always be those unique cases where patients have precise questions that you likely haven’t thought about. Your Chatbot may provide irrelevant responses in such situations, and this may be a turn-off for your prospective patients. 

Meanwhile, with Live Chat, the team member assigned to the tool can assess the situation at hand may respond accordingly. This response could be the difference between a patient being acquired or lost. So, keep this in mind as you choose your preferred tool. 

  1. Live Chats are Easier to Implement than Chatbots

Finally, you can integrate a Live Chat with your dental website in a matter of minutes. Setting up Live Chat can be as easy as copying and pasting codes. But Chatbots, on the other hand, require technical expertise to set up. 

Use a Live Chatbot

From the similarities and differences we’ve discussed, you probably have a preferred tool in mind right now. But while these two tools both have their merits, there’s a tool that combines their functionalities into one tool—a Live Chatbot. 

Live Chatbots, like Connect the Doc’s Walter, are tools that provide automated responses to patients’ requests and allow your dental team to join in on the conversation as needed. In this way, this tool will enable you to engage your patients through your dental website in real-time and ensure you provide them with relevant information and responses. 

Connect the Doc’s Live Chatbot is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning tools. As such, it can learn and adapt to unique scenarios and conversations with patients. It can pass on the conversation to your dental team for immediate participation or follow-up and move the conversation to text messages. This way, you and your patients can connect on the go. 

Improving your dental patient communication ought to be a priority for your dental practice. With tools, like Connect the Doc’s Walter, you can stay connected with your website visitors and patients even when your office is closed.