You might assume that your number one concern is getting more prospective patients to call you. And while this may be true for some dental practices, the real challenge begins when your prospects start calling. How do you get these prospects into your office? Are you thoroughly equipped to convert these prospects into appointments?
Up To 50% Of All New Patients Are Lost At The Front Desk
The first contact most new patients will have with your dental practice after reading your direct mail newsletter is with the person answering your phones. If this doesn’t go well, odds are that prospect won’t call back or even think your dental practice again, or worse, if your name comes up in conversation that dissatisfied prospect may even tell other prospects about their experience and you lose your next opportunity to convert a call because that call never happens. You need to make sure that the person answering your phones is properly equipped and has the requisite knowledge to both inform the prospect and book the appointment.
Unfortunately, many dentists have this problem and often wonder why they aren’t able to appoint more than 2 out of every 10 people who call. If you’re getting abundant phone calls with few booked appointments, it’s time to find out why and switch it up by doing the right things.
Invest In Your Staff With Training To Answer Phones Correctly
Telephone training needs to be a part of your new staff orientation. You can have the best marketing campaign with plenty of calls to action that prompt phone calls, but if your team doesn’t have the training to convert those calls to appointments, you’ve essentially wasted those hard-earned marketing dollars.
The language to convert calls in a professional office is entirely different from the informal settings of everyday life. Unfortunately, many dentists don’t think about this, so when they hire new front desk staff, they have them answer the phones saying something like “Dr. John Doe’s Dental Office” or something similar. Now, that sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it? Let’s see if you think so after this quick exercise.
Have someone in your office – preferably the person who answers your phones regularly – say, “Smith Family Dentistry” without energy in their voice and almost inaudibly. How did that sound? Not very welcoming? What other message do you think that’ll convey to the prospect? Chances are the prospect will probably talk a bit, drop the call, and find another dentist.
Now, ask him/her to breathe in and out a few times, sit up straight, smile, and say “Good morning! Smith Family Dentistry. This is Susan. How may I help you?” with energy and vigor, all while still smiling. What did you notice? There’s a tremendous difference, isn’t there? See how the first time sounded like “go away” and the second time sounded like “Welcome! I’m glad you called”?
This is why superior phone training is necessary for your front-line team. Even if they are naturals, training will influence their new-patient closing rate.
Schedule Your Best Closer Over The Lunch Hour
Your prospective patients are working too, and use their free time during their lunch hour to make personal appointments. If you don’t have someone answering your phones at this time, those people call only to reach your voicemail. Put yourself in their shoes. Do you think they’ll leave all their details, let you know what they need, and wait for you to call back? They may, but it’s unlikely. Once your voicemail clicks in, they are already disappointed in your practice and are moving on to the next dentist on their list.
To stop missing those all-important lunchtime calls, have your best “closer” answer the phones from 12:00 - 1:30 pm and take a late lunch. You will increase the number of booked appointments and walk-in traffic to your dental practice.
Sell Benefits, Not Services
Your phone team needs to use benefit-driven statements that prospects will understand and that will lead them to want your services and ask for an appointment.
One of the most effective telephone training tips for your dental practice to teach your phone team how to sell benefits and not services. It is not unusual to call a dental office and listen to the voice at the other end reel out a list of services you aren’t interested in. Not only is it counterproductive, it may drive a prospect away. Your phone team needs to use benefit-driven statements that prospects will understand, and that will lead them to want those benefits and ask for an appointment.
Imagine that a prospect calls your office and asks what the difference is between dental implants and dentures. While explaining, your staff member tells the prospect that one implant costs $1200 and if they have 32 teeth, it’ll cost a total of $38,400. Yikes! What do you think would happen to the prospect?
Now imagine instead that your team member asks that caller what their personal smile goals are, and then goes on to explain that there are a number of ways your practice can help achieve those goals. They go on to offer a free no-obligation consultation tomorrow or in 3 days’ time … and asks what time of day is best for the caller to come in – “Would you prefer morning or afternoon, Mr. Jones?” Wow!
Most people are not thrilled about going to the dentist, even if they are among the 35% who regularly attend dental appointments, and it won’t take much to push that 65% who don’t receive regular dental care away from your practice. Providing prospective patients with a reason to come in for their own benefit will go a long way towards filling up your dental schedule.
Achieving The Main Goal: Getting Quality New Patients Into Your Practice
In addition to having excellently trained staff answering your phones, they need to be armed with the information prospective patients will ask for when calling your practice. This helps the prospective patient feel comfortable with the level of care and concern they will receive at their visit and over the course of your newly forming relationship. It also ensures that your frontline team is in line with your practice goals and vision.
Ensure your phone staff…
- knows your practice mission, services, and doctor credentials inside and out;
- understands your practice’s competitive advantages (what you offer that your competition doesn’t);
- are motivated to perform;
- have been given the training needed to achieve superior telephone skills required to book the appointment.
Phone power training is included with every patient acquisition program. Call today to find out how Patient News can help you attract and close those quality new patients for your dental practice.