How I lost 1200 emails overnight

In my practice, we are working hard to gather email addresses for our patients. Since we work with DemandForce, every patient email address we enter into Dentrix turns into automatic marketing for the practice. DemandForce automatically sends the patient a Welcome email the day after we add the address, and sends an email recall notice every time they’re due – with zero effort on my part. Gotta love it.

A few months ago, I also created a Facebook Fan page for the practice, so we are trying to promote that as well. The more emails I have, the more I can contact the patients for free. So, I decided it was time to start tracking how many email addresses were opted-in to DemandForce and how many Fans liked us on Facebook. In excel, I simply looked at these two numbers at the beginning of each month & documented them.

The first of April, I logged into DemandForce to document these numbers – and found that the number of emails opted-in had dropped by 1200! I looked deeper into DemandForce, found a daily report – and saw that in fact, we had a drop of 1200 emails OVERNIGHT! I immediately called DemandForce and was told it was a Dentrix problem. So, I called Dentrix – talked to the nicest, most patient & calming guy on the planet (as you may imagine, I was a bit panicked!) who listened to my story, logged onto my PC so he could look around & see that I wasn’t crazy – and then gave me specific questions to ask DemandForce (DF). I called DF and talked with another great tech support guy who listened to my story, logged into our account and saw the problem.

DF changed the criteria on opting-in email addresses. In the past, the DF program never looked at the patient status (located in the Dentrix Family File) – and starting one day in March – now it does. If you have a patient status of “Non-Patient” then they will not be opted-in to DF. The “Active” and “Inactive” statuses will be opted-in. Apparently, DF has received numerous requests for this change – which I can understand, however, there wasn’t any memo or update sent out – they just made the change.

We have a pediatric dentist in our group – so we have several children that see this dentist, but their parents are not patients. We had been in the habit of setting their status “Non-patient” while their child was “Active”. However, we also were in the habit of putting the email address in for the parent – not the child! So, we were dead in the water for any email marketing to children through DemandForce.

Unfortunately for us, there was no way to get back all those people into our DF account. I was told that they had to have not only an acceptable status but also a charge on their personal ledger. DF was kind enough to create a database of these folks & send it to me in excel, so I didn’t completely lose these addresses – but now, I have to create a separate email in another software package to communicate with these folks – when before, I covered all my bases with DF only.

So – if you’re a DemandForce customer, you may want to review your policy on how you set patient status in Dentrix to make sure you’re not excluding patients you want to continue talking with online!

For more ideas to improve the business-side of your dental practice:

AUTHOR: Jill Nesbitt
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