Thousands & thousands of dollars … lost?

One of the most challenging areas for a dental office is missed calls or calls going to voice mail. On our monthly Telephone Performance Analysis reports, we notice that on average 20-30% of calls go to voicemail and this is just the calls we track – that means that countless additional new inquiry calls will be going to voicemail as well. And unfortunately, that’s during business hours when consumers reasonably expect to have their calls answered live.

Maybe you think you’re covered because you have 2 front desk team members. Problem is you may only have 2 phones physically in the office. So if Virginia is confirming insurance benefits while Connie is confirming tomorrow or the next day's appointments, guess what happens when a potential new patient calls? 

The call gets missed.

A call from a prospective patient might be the only chance you have to connect with them before they try reaching another dentist. You might think that new patients will leave a message in voicemail, but most do not. It’s estimated that 80% of callers hang up when they hear a voicemail message.

Start by analyzing your missed calls and look for opportunities. If you’re not currently engaged in call tracking, you might not have any idea how many hang-ups your practice has each day. Poll the folks that pick up messages from your voicemail to see how many are hang-ups? Only one or two a day … just ½ a dozen a week? What if that meant 52 more new patients per year? At ADA average patient value of $650, that’s $34k per year … over $250,000 in lifetime practice revenue. Gone. Ugh.

Business adjustments can sometimes reduce lost calls by up to 80%. If you’re not confident that you’re capturing every new-patient caller, here are a few tips to brainstorm for your practice:

  • Create a sense of urgency for new patients. We WANT them. Answer the phone live within 1-2 rings.
  • Communicate your new patient call goal: each call should result in a new patient appointment (not a hang up or voice mail message).
  • Train everyone on your team to be able to answer the phone when reception is busy. Everyone should be able to welcome new patients and know how to ask for and schedule an appointment.
  • Answer live between 8am & 6pm. Do not put voicemail on over the lunch hour. Cover the shift.
  • If some calls must go to voicemail, make sure the recorded message is effective.

Run the math for your practice. How much revenue are you losing to voicemail? Does it make sense to add another receptionist to your team (and professionally train them) if you could increase your conversion rates and add a significant number of additional new patients to your practice?

In addition to noting the number of calls that go to voicemail, our Telephone Performance Analysis scores all calls, including voicemail, so you can identify dates, times, and content of calls for quick and effective follow-up.

One of the most critical and challenging areas for a practice is effective phone handling and that includes team training and managing the use of voicemail. We all have it, we all need it, and if we can maneuver around it when our customers expect to connect with us, we can be much more effective in welcoming new customers to our business and keeping existing customers happy.

How many calls does your practice miss answering?