Smiling woman on headset.

One of the key channels of communication between a dental practice and any potential new patient is through the telephone. In fact, to the new patient the person who answers the phone IS the practice. Yet, oftentimes, these folks are trained to use the technology and greet patients, but they aren't trained to effectively handle new inquiries, objections and how to work for the new patient appointment.

Many prospects who might be interested in looking for a new dental practice to visit for regular checkups begin their relationship with your practice through the mail, by receiving dental newsletters, which drives them to the internet. However, following that, a potential new patient will be looking to take the next step, by either calling the practice directly to receive further information or to go ahead and schedule an appointment. To that end, it is essential that the dental practice employee on the other end of the phone line is not just competent at their job, but highly persuasive and effective in closing the deal.

Serving as an effective point-of-contact between the patient and the dental practice requires much more than just being polite and being able to accurately discern what services the patient is looking for. There are a host of unique and underrated tips that go into effective telephone etiquette. Training your staff in any of these tactics can not only serve as a way of improving the efficiency of your practice's operations but also serve as an effective form of dental practice marketing.

That's why Patient News offers team training, Phone Power, which complements our call scoring methodology. We support your team to be their best, and track their progress month over month. With roughly 50% of new patient bookings being lost at the front desk, this is a critical area for business review for the typical dentist. 

The first and most important step is to convey to the potential new patient who has just called your practice that this dentist is the one to visit. This means ensuring that the person picking up the phone at your practice is positive, effusive, gregarious and charming. They must know the attributes of the practice and the credentials of the dentist. Study, train and know your stuff when you answer the phone - and be ready to answer. One method of conveying further confidence to the new patient caller is through a simple little exercise known as phone yoga. This simply means going through a process of breathing and smiling to yourself before picking up the phone. This tactic has nothing to do with the content of the phone call or the professionalism required in taking the call. Instead, this first step is all about preparing your mind and attitude for the task at end. Breathing and smiling to yourself, similar to yoga techniques practiced at the studio, are good practices for cleansing your mind and welcoming in positive energy. The potential new patient will be able to feel across the phone this positivity - and subsequently, any negative energy that may be conveyed will be gone - so ensure the right mindset.

The next step is to set up a system of protocols and procedures for what you want the point person on calls at your practice to shoot for in answering these telephone queries. According to Dental Risk, establishing written and set procedures can ensure quality and consistency of care, lest a potential new patient is put off by his or her phone experience and spreads this negative word of mouth. If you want your patients to write down appointments on Post-It notes to be handed to dental professionals at your practice, then set up such a system. If you want all appointments input into the computer system right away, then do so.

One of the final steps to ensuring a well-trained telephone staff is to train your telephone staff to the nuances of your practice. Knowledge is power, and potential new patients will be able to immediately sense if your practice appears underprepared. Make sure that the telephone answerer is versed in all facets of your dental practice's services, delineate clear marketing objectives in terms of how forceful they should be on the phone, and set up a system whereby patients can talk directly to specialists should they require more information than a receptionist would be able to provide.

Call our team for more information about Phone Power and our Marketing Performance Dashboard. See how your practice can maximize efficiency and book more new patients.