Getting patients in through your doors is vital to your dental practice. Satisfied, returning patients are the life-blood of your dental office. You also need to regularly get new patients in for an appointment.
Getting and retaining patients have been a source of frustration and discouragement for many dentists. Hundreds and even thousands of marketing dollars are spent by dentists on marketing collateral as well as on online marketing strategies.
What if the key to building your patient base is more fundamental and cheaper than marketing and advertising? What if the way of getting patients in the door starts inside your office?
Your Receptionist: Your PR and Advertising Specialist
A patient’s first contact and interaction with your dental office is by a phone call answered by your receptionist.
The dental field is a highly competitive one. It is not uncommon to have multiple dentists in the same town. The patient has the ultimate power, being able to pick and choose which office they go to.
First impressions are therefore important. Your receptionist will get only one opportunity to get the caller into the door.
Many dental offices are busy, especially in the mornings. A ringing telephone can easily be an inconvenience.
This attitude leads to many missed opportunities to bring in new patients through the doors. Instead of ignoring the phone or putting callers on hold, here are some suggestions on what to do instead.
- Answer the phone within 3 rings
- Smile when answering
- Express helpfulness
- Be positive
- Show empathy
- Identify the office and yourself
- Use the hold button for no more than 10 seconds
Get patients to accept quality care.
How to Handle the Four Common Types of Calls
There are four basic types of phone calls that dental offices receive: the new patient exam call, the emergency patient call, the “shopper” call, and the call when a patient is cancelling their appointment.
New Patient Exam Call
When a prospective patient calls, the first thing the receptionist should do is write down the caller’s name and begin addressing him or her by their name.
After getting their name, ask them how long it has been since they have been in your practice and how long it has been since they last got a thorough dental exam.
Inform them of the different cleanings and exams your office does and identify which one would be best for them. After mentioning your suggestion, always ask if that is okay with them.
The goal of the new patient call is to get the caller to schedule an appointment.
The Emergency Call
A dental emergency is something no patient wants to deal with. It can be stressful and cause for patient concern. When a patient calls for an emergency, the receptionist should respond in a way that empathizes with what they’re experiencing and affirms that the situation is cause for concern.
Sometimes patients will call and not have an urgent dental emergency. Your receptionist should gather from the caller whether there is a legitimate emergency.
If it is an emergency, schedule them for an appointment as soon as possible, preferably that same day. The patient should know that you care and are willing to set aside time for their emergency.
The “Shopper” Call
Throughout the day, your receptionist will inevitably get calls from people shopping around for dental services. The goal of these callers is to find the best bargain. The goal of this kind of call is to provide the best outcome for the patient, not sell them anything. It is about getting a new patient in the door, not to make money.
When a “shopper” calls, the reception should do all he or she can to get the patient to make an appointment and come in the door. If possible, offer the caller a free examination or cleaning.
The Cancellation Call
Nobody likes the call from a patient who needs to cancel their appointment. There is the possibility that the patient won’t reschedule.
Many times, these calls are mishandled which gives the patient more reason to not reschedule.
When a patient chooses to cancel an appointment, it can be easy to make them out to be the “bad” guy. Your receptionist should never do this. Instead, try to be accommodating and get them to schedule at a time that works best for them.
The outcome goal of this type of phone call is to build up a relationship with the caller so that the caller would be compelled to reschedule.
At Arrowhead Dental Laboratory can help boost your patient satisfaction with quality, timely crowns and implants. If your office doesn’t have an in-house dental lab, our expert technicians use the latest technology and tools to made and deliver great dental products for your patients. Contact us today for more information.