Phone calls. The most important part of the day is when the phone rings. The healthcare industry is moving fast toward value-based patient care. A part of this initiative is to cherish patients from the first point of contact– the phone call. Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. As a patient, the most time-efficient and risk-less way to find a dental office is to make a few quick phone calls to offices in your area. If the employee behind the call fails to use the correct verbiage or ‘close the sale’, then your office is losing out on potentially thousands of dollars. Below are common questions from dental offices about developing an advantageous phone strategy to intrigue new patients. Read on to unlock techniques to leverage inbound and outbound phone calls to generate new patients and collections.
“The easiest way to lose new patients is a rude, unclear, or untrained employee answering the phone and steering them clear of your office.”
1. Which phone calls are important?
Your first inclination is, all of them. However, do not fall victim to the ‘all or none’ trap. There are no absolutes in the art of phone calls. Before discounting this argument, remember that in the business realm of your practice each patient’s lifetime worth is different. If a new patient calls your office, do not put them on hold. They are unfamiliar with your office and the likelihood that they will hang-up when put on hold the first time calling your office is high. Of course, there are also no absolutes, so if your office is flooded with new patients calls, either put the new patient on hold for a limited amount of time or enlist a staff member to answer phone calls. On the other hand, a returning patient understands the quality of your office and that phone lines may be busy. With an established relationship, existing patients are willing to wait while the staff assists patients.
2. What to do when you miss a phone call?
Do not call missed phone calls back… without a plan. The reason why you missed the phone call is not as important as promptly and professionally returning the call. The first tip here is do not apologize or give a reason why you missed the call. Next, reference your ‘missed calls’ script. If you do not have one, create a script specifically for missed calls. For example, the greeting and purpose of the call differ from answering an inbound call. Lastly, before making the call, check to see the office’s relationship with the caller. Is this an unknown number, a current patient, or could it possibly be a new patient? If they are a current patient, bring up their file for quick reference for recent visits and procedures.
3. Who should answer inbound phone calls?
Recall a time when you called a local business and it was a surprisingly pleasant conversation. Chances are, that the respondent on the other line was professional, personable, and persistent. Professionalism begins with a balanced confidence level and subject knowledge. If you or a staff member do not know the answer to a question, do not let doubt show. Consciously exude that your office is an expert in your field and if you need to follow-up with the patient to give them the correct information, then say so confidently.
Next, is the person that answers the phones at your office easy to talk to on the phone? If so, they are a diamond in the ruff and remember to congratulate them. The easiest way to lose new patients is a rude, unclear, or untrained employee answering the phone and steering them clear of your office. The final tip is persistence. The person that answers does not need to be a 1970s car salesman, but consistency will spread a more effective message. If your office’s specialty is Invisalign, then mention this to the caller. For example, “[Dental Office Name], [Town]’s leader in Invisalign treatment”. Remind the patient at the end of the call of your office’s advantage. The salience of your message will improve your office’s credibility and awareness in your area.
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What does your office do to stay relevant with new patients? Comment below!