Is Your Phone on Disconnect?
You may have the best interactive website in town, a beautiful facility with Cad cam technology and Cone beam but it doesn’t matter if patients are soured by the person(s) answering your phone.
Excellent phone skills require training to ensure that the person answering the phone understands the big picture of creating positive impressions and branding the practice.
Anyone who answers your phone is the practice ambassador and first point of contact for your practice and for you, the dentist.
The goal is to build immediate rapport and schedule an appointment with as little distraction and interruption as possible. Solo and small group practices it is time to optimize the phone to the power that it is in gaining and retaining patients.
Many a dentist has paid thousands of dollars in direct mail pieces or other types of advertising to make the phone ring only to have the business staff tell the patient that you are booked out for three months for a hygiene appointment. The patient is not impressed with your popularity. Or that the potential patient must have an hour and half exam with the dentist before a hygiene visit can be scheduled. Unless you are doing dentistry as a hobby or have unlimited resources for paying your overhead this is not the way to attract new patients to your practice. Statistics show the number one valued service in a dental office is a professional cleaning yet you are blocking access to what the patient wants. What if they have periodontal disease? You can still give them a prophy and then diagnose the services necessary on a treatment plan after the complete evaluation and necessary x-rays.
The fact that you want and need new patients but cannot offer them a timely appointment is contrary to customer satisfaction. Patients calling your office want an appointment not a dissertation about how you cannot accommodate them.
Don’t have an appointment for a new patient within a week unless you get a cancellation? Have you considered that maybe pre scheduling all patients is not working for you or perhaps your clinical hours are not convenient for the patient but convenient for the staff? Do you offer extended hours or lunch hour appointments? Have you prescheduled all the prime times to existing patients without offering them other times such as “Mr. Brown, I see you always like a 4:00.” (For the last twenty years though he retired 10 years ago and can come any time).
Have you considered blocking and holding prime times for new patients? If they aren’t filled 48 hours in advance you can offer them to existing patients.
Creating a positive impression of the dental practice with callers comes naturally on the days when everything is moving smoothly within the practice but the key is consistency of positive impression even when chaos has exploded around you. Even losing one new patient costs the practice thousands of dollars in potential services and referrals. Consistency takes focus on the caller and being able to separate yourself from what is happening in the office.