The Dental Experience Podcast

Hosted ByRyan Vet

A Dental Podcast All About Creating Experiences Worth Sharing
No matter your role, as dental professionals, it is our responsibility to provide exemplary patient experience and care. In each episode of this dental podcast we will hear from experts on how to create a positive patient experience while simultaneously growing your practice.

Episode 309: Finding and Keeping Your Patients, with Weave’s Mike Buckner

Millennials make up 55% of the workforce today, which means they are the majority of your patients as well.  And yet, many practices are using outdated phone systems that don’t connect to millennials at all and drive them to another practice.  How can you change that? Mike Bucker from Weave gives you actionable tips in today’s episode.

Voiceover: Today on The Dental Experience podcast.

Mike Buckner: How are we going to break through and really even just win their attention for even 10 seconds?

Ryan Vet: I have stolen something from Mike that I use in all my presentations, and I don’t always give him credit.

Mike Buckner: I’m sorry, Sarah, are you a patient of record?

Ryan Vet: If you’re a millennial, rewind is a reference to tapes when tapes actually were in a cassette player, VHS.

Mike Buckner: The phone app on the iPhone is actually the fifth most used app.

Ryan Vet: It was very alluring because you do get to make a bigger impact in the community that you work.

Mike Buckner: The number of new patients that will actually leave a voicemail? It was shocking to us.

Voiceover: This is The Dental Experience podcast. Here’s your host, Ryan Vet.

Ryan Vet: Welcome to another episode of The Dental Experience podcast.

I’m so excited to have with me today a very good friend, a friend I’ve known many years in the dental industry, Mike Buckner, the director of business development at Weave. Mike, how are you today?

Mike Buckner: I’m doing good, thank you. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Vet: Of course. And so, today we’re going to tackle a fun topic: the topic of millennials.

Now, you, yourself, we’ve talked about, are borderline millennial. How does that make you feel? Are you happy to be borderline maybe? Or, you know, you wish you weren’t?

Mike Buckner: You know, it’s, it’s kind of funny because millennials, for a while, millennials have almost kind of had like a, a negative connotation around it, but, but I think there’s a lot of great things about millennials. You know, millennials, they, they want to be engaged in a purpose. I think that’s really commendable. Though, there are dramatically shifting trends in how millennials communicate and how they go about the day-to-day and really what engages the millennial in the office.

Ryan Vet: Could you hold that, hold that thought? I have a text, hold on. I’m just kidding.

Mike Buckner: Yeah, exactly, right?

Ryan Vet: But, I’m a millennial, and I am a little past the borderline mark. And so, I definitely own that, but you said really looking for a company with a purpose or a job with a purpose. Could you talk a little bit about that more, especially when it relates to dentistry. Dentistry could really have an incredible purpose if practices positioned it in such a way.

Mike Buckner: Yeah. You know, it’s, it’s interesting because I think gone are the days where someone would go, they work for a company, they’d worked their whole lives for a company and then, you know, retire, get their, their pension. You know, those days are kind of past us. And now, on average, I think four to five years is even kind of a long time at some companies because people are just bouncing around so much.

And especially with the millennial generation, I would say that people don’t quit a job, they quit their employer. I mean, millennials will go somewhere that are, it’s even paying less. It’s not necessarily about the money if they feel like they are truly making a difference, and if they enjoy their work environment. And that’s why you see, you see places like Google or Adobe, or, you know, some fun office spaces that just have a, a unique culture about them.

It’s because they want to make sure that it’s a great environment to come to work. And the same thing can apply, you know, or should apply in dental practices.

Ryan Vet: What are some practical tips that you’ve seen, maybe some, the practices you’ve worked with or observed. How do they make their job worth a purpose?

I mean, dentistry in and of itself is something that you’re investing in other people’s lives and helping them gain confidence from a better smile. But what are some ways that you’ve seen employers be successful in really encouraging their team members to, to join in and feel like they’re part of something bigger?

Mike Buckner: Yeah. You know, I think, I think more often we’re seeing offices, you know, offices that, that really are retaining their, their team. They’re, they’re doing more than just coming into the office, you know, going about the day to days and then going home. We’re, we’re seeing more and more offices participate in charities and making a difference in the community.

And also, you know, it’s, like I said, it’s not necessarily always about the pay. Those offices that I’ve seen, that have done a great job at retaining their team, their hygienists, their assistants,   front office team. The ones that I’ve seen do a great job at that, they know how to, how to praise. How to make them feel special, and how to make them feel like they’re making a difference.

You, you can keep someone happy if, and sometimes it’s not necessarily the raise because you give someone, you give someone a raise, you know, 50 cents a dollar. Well, you know what? That excitement, and that gratification, lasts only a small amount of time. But if you continually, kind of, you know, give them praise and let them know that they’re doing a good job and, and encourage them. You can keep them happy for forever.

Ryan Vet: Yeah, you’re exactly right. And I’ll even say my wife, who is a dentist, she’s an associate and looking for a new opportunity or when a new opportunity was presented to her, one of the things that was so fascinating about this practice that approached her was the fact that they do all sorts of charity and outreach and team building things that just were a little different.

And while some of the other benefits might not have been the same as other opportunities, it was a very, it was very alluring because you do get to make a bigger impact in the community that you work, not just punch a clock and go home. So I think that’s a really valid point and I appreciate you sharing that.

Mike Buckner: Absolutely.

Ryan Vet: Now, you mentioned something about attention span, and I made a joke earlier. And I do have to say to all the listeners, I have stolen something from Mike that I use in all my presentations and I don’t always give him credit. So I’m going to give him credit now, Mike, you probably know where I’m going with this, but I put a goldfish up on the screen.

And if you have not sat in one of my presentations, I’m about to ruin the punchline for you. So just act surprised so I still have energy from stage,  but basically I put a goldfish up on the screen and I talk about how he’s got a nine second attention span. But the reality is, Mike, and again, this is your statistic that I’ve stolen, which is really from Harvard, I believe.

But you know, the average human adult has an eight second attention span. So, a goldfish can pay attention longer than we can, and there’s a lot of implications to that in practice marketing and messaging, but tell me a little bit more about where you have seen this come into play most and why this one second – it’s not even the one second difference, but it’s the fact that we have eight seconds to capture someone’s attention before they’re bored and do another lap around the fishbowl. So tell me, what are some of the areas in which you have seen a practice understand that this is the problem and really address that to get in front of it?

Mike Buckner: Great points. It’s almost as if we have been conditioned to have that short attention span. I want you to think about social media, how social media is designed. You think of Instagram, you think of Facebook, and if you have it on your phone, you kind of get in the habit of just scrolling through. You’ll scroll and you’ll stop at a picture, you won’t even read all the comments, and you’ll just keep scrolling. Right? So our attention span is almost conditioned to just kind of move on to the next. Think about the articles that you might read, any article that, that might offer some, you know, the top five tricks to do XYZ. What most people will do is they’ll pull up that article online, and they’ll just go to the bullet points and they just, they just want to read the bullet points. They want to kind of take the main, the main points and then move on to the next thing. Our attention span, we are actually – and I think that part of the reason is we are being inundated with notifications, with messages, with emails and texts. In fact, from 1970 until today, we are actually processing three times the amount of information on a daily basis.

And so, with that constant stimulus, our brain is almost programmed to hurry, onto the next, onto the next, onto the next. And I think that that to really understand that, in order to take that into our practices and know that, we have to find ways to engage with our patients and to break through the noise of the constant notifications, of the constant text messages and emails.

How are we going to break through and really even just, just when their attention for even 10 seconds to, to talk to them about, you know, what procedures our office is offering or when their next appointment is or even just to connect with them and let them know that you appreciate them for choosing your practice as, as their care provider?

Ryan Vet: That’s so good.

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You said something interesting, I want to rewind for a minute. And if you’re a millennial, rewind is a reference to tapes when tapes actually were in a cassette player, VHS.  But, just rewinding to something you said, you talked about scrolling so fast through social media, like on Instagram, you’re flying through.

I actually just wrote an article for Forbes on marketing and talking about how powerful the orange tile was. And if you know about the orange tile, it was from the Fyre Festival when a media company – whose name I won’t say, ’cause this is a clean podcast and the media company does not have a clean name – but, this media company created an orange tile to stop people and they had all these influencers post it at the same exact time.

So as you’re scrolling, all of a sudden, you say “What’s this orange tile?” And you get this fear of missing out, or FOMO as millennials have coined it, and it goes exactly to what you’re saying. You’re talking about, if you can capture someone for just 10 seconds, how do you make them feel valuable? How you make them feel like they’re special, they’re worth it? Again, the joke is all millennials got trophies, even if they lost – there is some truth to that growing up. And so they do need to feel special, it is a, a by-product of the culture that they grew up in. So, I think that’s a really fascinating fact that, you know, as you’re scrolling, how do you catch them for 10 seconds?

The phone is a big way to do that. So, talk a little bit about how important it is to really capture someone on the phone?

Mike Buckner: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s a good point. I – our ability to connect with someone in a short amount of time is, is key and is essential. With the, the constant social media, what that’s done for, especially the millennial generation – think about it. It’s a Friday night, you’re home, you got nothing going on. You hop online, you kind of start scrolling. And what did you see? You see all of the fun and exciting things that everyone else is out doing on a Friday night or for their vacation. Like you said, Ryan, it’s, it’s almost that feeling of FOMO.

Well, what that’s done – and because we have such an artificial way to communicate today, and because most of our communication is done behind a screen – what that’s done is that’s actually created a deep desire and need for us as a society to connect. I mean, anytime that we see a like on Facebook or, or Instagram, there is actually a dopamine release in the brain when we see that, and Simon Sinek talks about that, it’s a drug. And so, we actually have a need to connect. So think about that, when a patient calls in, they have an innate desire to connect, to feel special. So the first few seconds, the first 10 seconds on a call even, that – it’s crucial to make sure that we help them feel connected.

You know, coming from Weave, one of the things that I love about about the Weave system is that it’s designed to really help the office connect with the patient. You know, when a patient calls in, and their information pops up on the screen. So no longer are you asking the questions of “I’m sorry, Sarah, are you a patient of record?”

And “When was the last time that you were in our practice?” And “I’m sorry, can you spell your last name again for me?” No, that first few seconds is actually spent saying, “Hey, by the way, I see that your, your daughter’s birthday is coming up. Wish her happy birthday for us.” And with the other notes that’s in there, you can actually spend the time truly connecting with that individual on the phone rather than digging for information to verify that they’re actually a patient.

Ryan Vet: Right. That’s so good. And I guess having that birthday wish when you’re on the phone scheduling an appointment is a lot more powerful than the handwritten postcard that you’re supposed to write your own address on and slap it in the mail, right?

Mike Buckner: Oh, it is. And, and it’s, it’s, it’s kinda funny because it’s kind of brings me to my second point. And the second point really is the need for personalization. We like to know that any conversation or interaction with us is, is personalized. Like it’s, it’s tailored specifically to us. I’m not sure if you remember, but back when, when the birthday emails, it was a big thing of sending, sending an automated birthday email out to, to clients, to patients.

And it wasn’t just a dental, it was automotive. It was everywhere where on your birthday, you’d get an email. And if you remember in the beginning, it was like, “Wow, this is actually kind of cool.” And I come in, someone thought of me, I get to come in for, you know, 10% off this or that. Times have changed. And because we want that personalization, now you get something like that and it’s almost, you see that as spam and it’s almost deleted immediately because we know that there is absolutely zero thought in putting that together. And, and instead of something like that, instead of of the constant, just automation of everything, even if it’s a text message, right?

Like, I, I highly recommend offices if they’re using any sort of texting tools to make sure that the text message looks like it comes from your practice, not a five digit short code because people see that five digit short code and they tune out. They don’t even open the message because they probably think it’s a coupon from –

A sales pitch.

It’s a sales pitch, right?

Ryan Vet: Yeah.

Mike Buckner: But, but being able to, to customize even a birthday wish by text, if you can set up automated text messages that go out from your practice, it doesn’t have to be a video. It doesn’t have to be a picture, but even just a text message that calls that individual by name and says, “We just wanted to wish you a happy birthday from all of us here. We hope your day is great.”

Do you know that I have seen more responses from texts like that, that don’t have the flashy videos that don’t have the flashy, you know, emails because it looks personalized. And just from that, that aspect right there of looking like it’s personalized, it will go miles to, to the impression that it leaves on your patients.

Ryan Vet: That’s so good. We were just talking a little bit about phones. We have an iPhone, literally phone is in the name. And so you’d think that the phone app on the iPhone would be among the most used apps, but in reality, it’s not used that much at all. Could you talk a little bit about really what our phones are to us and they’re, they’re more of a utility to us, and then we’ll talk about how they’re not a utility to your practice.

Mike Buckner: Yes. This, this iPhone, the smartphones, have changed how we communicate, you know, the biggest thing with the phones that I remember when somebody would call in, and when iPhone first released that feature that would allow you to quickly press the button on the side and send an automated message that says, “Sorry, can’t talk right now,” or “Talk later.” That was amazing. That was huge because it at least, you know, connected with that individual. And the iPhone itself, you know, we talk about the millennials a little bit, but the iPhone itself, this is really interesting.

But in, at the end of 2017, Harvard conducted a study around, around how millennials are communicating with the iPhone or with, with just technology today. And when they surveyed millennials, they actually found out that the phone app on the iPhone is actually the fifth, most used app. So, it’s not even considered a phone anymore.

They’re carrying around a computer. And it’s how to connect with that individual, knowing that, you know, if we’re trying to connect with them by just calling them, that’s not working anymore because especially with millennials, the voicemail response rate is at an all time low of 4.8%. In fact, it’s so low, people are not listening to voice messages anymore, that Apple had to redesign how their voicemail works. They had to transcribe it so you could actually read it because time is of the essence. People just don’t have time anymore. And so, they want to be able to, to see the message. They don’t have time to listen to it, and so it really comes down to how to connect with them using, using the phone.

Ryan Vet: That’s wonderful. And I know one of the things I talk about a lot is your phone is not a utility, talking from the practice’s perspective. Your phone is not a utility, it’s your profit center. And that’s still true, even though there are more and more calls that aren’t calls, but are texts or other ways of communication.

The phone systems are no longer just a, a little line that plugs into the wall. The phone systems have become so much more robust and can offer other features, but it’s critical that your practices and all practices realize your phone is a profit center, not a utility. Could you talk a little bit about that and how you’ve solved and helped overcome some of those problems to make the phone more versatile?

Mike Buckner: Absolutely. As we conducted some studies to try to really find out, you know, where is technology going and how are the trends shifting and how do we keep up on the constant shifting trends? Technology has such a short shelf life. And what we were able to determine was that when new patients, when they’re looking for a dentist, the majority of them do what? They, they go online, right?

They go onto Google, and they search for a dentist in the area or cosmetic dentist in the area, and Google will actually give them a listing as to which ones are the most relevant to their search. So, it might be because they’ve got, you know, the most reviews or five star reviews, or it might be because it’s closest to the area or it has the word implants or cosmetic dentistry or the most relevant search to it, and it pops it up.

And so you have, you know, the first line and then it goes on second, third, fourth, fifth, you know? So when someone is actually calling in, they found a dentist and they’re calling in, we stress so much that it’s important to be present with your patients. And so, I know that, you know, my, my wife worked in a dental practice and her, one of her biggest stresses was if she was talking with a patient and the phone ring, she knows that there’s a responsibility to answer that call because that could be dollars calling in.

But at the same time, she knows that she has to try to be present with the person that she’s talking with and, and not be rude to say, “I’m sorry, hold on. I need to get this, this phone call.” So inevitably, phone calls are missed. Inevitably, sometimes they go through to a voicemail. And what we found is that when a call – a new patient calls in, and if that call is not answered and it goes to voicemail, the number of new patients that will actually leave a voicemail, it was shocking to us.

In fact, 93% of new patients, when they call in, if it goes to voicemail, they hang up. They don’t have the time, they don’t have the patience, they go right onto the next line, and you’ve missed out on that opportunity. You know, one of the things that, that Weave has done to, to kind of look ahead and see how to overcome that is they have created a, a missed call text – similar to the iPhone that we talked about.

So when a patient calls in, if they hang up or if they leave a voicemail, Weave will actually send out an automated text message and the automated text message can be as customized as you’d like. So you can put someone’s name in there and say, “Hi, this is Sarah with Dr. Buckner’s office. I’m currently helping another patient right now, but I can call you back in three to five minutes, or you can text me here and I’ll respond as soon as possible. How can I help you?”

What we found there is that we actually re-engage up to 78% more of those new patients, they will actually re-engage and text back and we’ve even gotten responses. You know, I have a good friend, Josh Austin, who, you know, he does this in his office and he sent me a screenshot before saying, “This is, this is awesome,” because there’s a patient that actually said, “Thank you so much for the text. I’m actually looking for more information on, on a full mouth reconstruction or on implants.” And so that one, that one text right there. Oh my gosh! Imagine if, if that would never have had been caught or if that patient just lost –

Ryan Vet: Tens of thousands of dollars.

Mike Buckner: Absolutely.

Ryan Vet: Wow. That’s absolutely incredible.

So, I would love to chat just briefly as we wrap up here, when I talk to practices and say, “Hey, you’re missing 33% of your calls or 93% of your patients, new patients that call in are not calling back.” They say, “Yeah, right. Not at my practice.” And so, my next question is “How do you know?” And they kind of look at me funny, like “What, like I just know?” And I’m always like, “No, you don’t because you’re not actually looking at the data.”

So could you talk a little bit about some of the features that you added to actually help a practice analyze how they’re doing, and how they’re performing, beyond just their phone, but some overall metrics, because I think practices often fail to look at the metrics, but that’s the one thing that shows you how you’re performing overall.

So could you talk a little bit about Weave, what Weave has done to help in that regard?

Mike Buckner: Yes. So, I love the way that you put this, that the phone really becomes a profit center for the practice. And sometimes we argue that it is the most valuable piece of equipment in an office because everything generally starts or ends with the phone. Whether you’re collecting, whether you’re talking with a new patient, everything happens on the phone, and it’s crucial to know what truly is going on in the practice. In fact, I remember speaking with an office before we, we installed Weave in their practice. And I just, I was talking with the office manager and I said, I said, “Linda, on average, do you guys miss a lot of phone calls?”

She said, “No, we, we, honestly we answer the phone all the time.” She says, “I’d probably say up to 95 to 99% of all of our calls are answered.” And she goes, “If we can’t get it, then you know, our, our team in the back will get it, or the doctor will get it, but we always know to answer the phone.” Well, we, we installed Weave in their practice and, after the first couple of weeks, we went back and we looked and they were missing a lot more.

We have built in reporting and analytics to show how many patients are calling in versus non-patients, what time of day do you have the most calls? What time of day do you have the most calls that are missed? And what lines, what phone lines are they coming in on? So if you have a marketing line or if you have a line specific for Invisalign on an ad that you’ve put up, you know exactly how many are coming through on there.

And then I would also say that that one of the most important things, too, is to have the ability to have your calls recorded. Now, I know that there’s, there’s about 10 or 11 States that require two way notification and, and that is possible. But the, the ability to, to have the calls recorded not only helps for training purposes, but also just to – I’ve seen many legal cases or legal instances where we have helped doctors that have been in any sort of, you know, a legal battle to say, “Hey, I need to pull up, you know, this phone call,” and well, it’s all recorded, and they have that backup so they can go in, or they can just verify what that patient was talking about and go back and listen to any call that’s either come in or been placed in the practice.

Ryan Vet: Yeah, that is so good and so important. And I think if you’re not currently recording your calls, and then also more importantly, measuring your metrics, you’re, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. You don’t know how much you’re missing until you actually look, and then you’ll probably have a little panic attack and wonder how much money you could have made if you would have installed it.

But, I highly recommend getting metrics on, on your phone and obviously metrics in your practice and treating your phone really like the profit center that it is and treating the people who answer your phone like they are extremely valuable because they help you make that, that money, and I think a lot of times we under invest in our front office teams who work so hard and answering those calls a couple changes of a word, or how you ask a question can totally transform the way in which a patient ultimately accepts treatment or ultimately schedules that appointment.

So, that’s another huge opportunity to invest.

Mike Buckner: Absolutely.

Ryan Vet: Well, Mike, do you have any closing words where we’re at about the 25 minute mark, meaning we probably lost some millennials along the way, but everyone else is good and I, I thank them for listening, but do you have any other closing thoughts or remarks that you’d like to share?

Mike Buckner: No, I would just – the encouragement that I would give is to make sure that you have adapted. You know, the technology that you use in the practice, especially to communicate, that you’ve adapted that and that you’re up to speed. You know, millennials now make up 55% of the workforce. They are our moneymakers out there now.

And so knowing how to connect with them, and how they prefer to connect is, is crucial for the success of your practice.

Ryan Vet: That’s so good. Well, Mike, I really appreciate your time. How can the audience get in touch with you or learn more information about anything you’ve shared today?

Mike Buckner: Yes. Feel free to shoot me an email at mike dot buckner, B U C K N E R  at and that’s G E T W E A V E  dot com, or shoot me a text, (801) 310-7664.

Ryan Vet: Wow. You just gave out your number. That’s awesome.

Mike Buckner: I sure did.

Ryan Vet: He’s serious. He will respond to respond to your texts, but Mike, I really appreciate your time on the podcast today.

Mike Buckner: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Ryan Vet: Anytime.

Well, thank you everyone for listening to The Dental Experience podcast. Until next time.

Voiceover: Thank you for listening to The Dental Experience podcast. For show notes, to ask a question or for more information, visit The ideas discussed during this episode are the opinions of the participants and do not serve as legal, financial, or clinical advice.

Until next time, this is The Dental Experience podcast.

Full Episode Transcript

This episode of The Dental Experience Podcast is sponsored by Trident Lab. Dental Experience podcast listeners – that’s you – you can write the code Dental Experience on your first case, and you can save up to $50. Simply visit for more details.

The Dental Experience Podcast is hosted by Ryan Vet and is edited by Earfluence.

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