Walking On Dental Sunshine

Focused stand-out zebra with black, white, and red stripes looks directly into the camera

Writing a dental marketing blog week after week, month after month, year after year is hard! What do we know or what have we learned that will share insight? What will provide value to our clients and industry colleagues? And be entertaining! Today I was blank, so I went back in my archives to look at what I was writing about 10 years ago. Low and behold, my September 1, 2011 blog is very relevant – maybe even more relevant on September 1, 2021.

And this story will help you get more new patients for your dental office. Want more new patients for your dental practice? Schedule a free consultation today.

That September 2011 blog was all about how to say things on the phone. As a dental professional, you’ve probably had reams of training and know it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Isn’t that message even more important as we live through this current pandemic where people are craving positive connection and can’t be in person very often?

A UCLA study revealed that when speaking, gestures account for 55% of impact, tone of voice 38%, and words … a tiny 7%. So, since a smile can be heard on the phone and gestures can’t be seen … imagine how important tone is for every new-patient phone call.

When I wrote that blog 10 years ago, we had just conducted a training session with our sales team on how to deliver an effective online presentation (can you imagine, we were just implementing PowerPoint in our sales process) and I was sharing the tips from that training session related to new-dental-patient call handling.

At Patient NEWS, we have always only been face-to-face with clients at events and tradeshows, and otherwise we only interact personally by phone (and now by Zoom), so the importance of voice inflection, being present, and focusing on the call and smiling while we’re on the phone were and are central to our training and relate 100% to handling a new-patient call at a dental office. These factors are a big part of our Phone Power call coaching program that supports new-patient direct mail and website campaigns.

The thing is, when you do something day in and day out, like answer the phone or giving another PowerPoint presentation, and you’re very busy with other tasks, being present, energetic, and happy can slip into not paying complete attention and coming off as indifferent.

At that training session, we were given an exercise that was fun, and it worked. It’s sure to make your team smile, maybe even laugh out loud. The trainer asked us to say a statement in a few different ways – as if we were bored, flirtatious, angry, sexy, excited – you get the idea!

At your next team huddle try this. You’ll need a volunteer to get your started!

First, as if you’re BORED and busy elsewhere say (out loud):

“Good morning, Dr. Smith’s office. Yes, we have one-hour whitening. We can fit you in at 2.”

Then, think of something that makes you FEEL GOOD. What makes you happy? Your child? Your favorite sports team winning? Taking the dog for a walk? Dancing? Take that feeling and, as if you’re really happy and excited, say (out loud):

“Good morning, Dr. Smith’s office. Yes, we have one-hour whitening. We can fit you in at 2.”

The point is the words don’t change, but the “feeling” you give the listener completely changes.

Every dental office wants to make sure that they have the right welcome script for a new dental patient that everyone who answers the phone follows – but then, beyond those words, apply a welcoming happy feeling and tone into the words. Be present. You want every new patient to feel like they’ve called the right place, that it’s safe, happy, and welcoming, and that their business is valued and appreciated. When you sound confident, happy to represent the practice, and welcoming, you build patient trust.

After scoring and coaching thousands of dental offices on call handling, we can confirm that these basics really do make a huge difference in new-patient bookings.

  • Smile
  • Answer live – don’t let a call go to voicemail
  • Be enthusiastic about your doctor and your practice
  • Be present, caring, and helpful
  • Have energy throughout the call and say thank you.

I know it’s hard to stay in your happy zone all day long and for every interaction. Especially when you’re dealing with a myriad of patients, colleagues and their moods, the pressure of your to-do list, and everything else going on behind the scenes at home and at work – but just remember, it’s a choice. We can all choose our attitudes. We can’t control others and what they do, only ourselves. It’s your choice. Focus on positive.

When wanting to attract and convert more new patients to your dental office, paying attention to tone, enthusiasm, and sincerity will affect the number of patients that trust you, trust your practice, and schedule with you. Dental office managers and receptionists have a tough job. They’re busy keeping everything humming, which means that calls aren’t always top priority. We’ve heard our fair share of poor call handlers. Make sure everyone on your team knows that new patients are critical (to practice success, job security, new opportunities, new technologies, giving all patients better care, etc.,), and ensure your call handling team is equipped with best-practice call coaching (like Phone Power from Patient NEWS), with scripts ready that support your brand message and help overcome objections.

There is a lot to that tone on the phone! Speed of speech can indicate tedium or impatience. Pitch can be perceived as disengaged or annoyance, even untrustworthy. Energy reflects attitude. Pulling it all together takes skill, and that’s very important when you want to build trust and confidence in your dental practice. How a new-patient call is handled is part of your dental marketing program, it’s part of the patient journey and patient experience, and will help you maximize every new-patient opportunity. We’ve always said that the person who answers the phone IS the practice to the new patient.

What’s the big deal over one more new patient? One new patient, on average, contributes $1800 in production in year one, so it’s a very big deal when you add up what you could be losing or winning on the daily. A coaching and bonus structure for the team that’s responsible for answering calls and scheduling new patients at your practice could and does mean mega dollars and mega-competitive advantage. You don’t want one new patient to slip away from your practice and choose another. If training and incentives could add just 3 more new patients per week, conservatively, for 48 weeks per year, that would add over $250,000 in topline revenue. Just three more!

Here’s a final little interesting tidbit from my blog 10 years ago. It starts with a question about Walking On Sunshine (Katrina & The Waves) and whether it creates happy feelings because I was heading into the conversation about using something to bring out your happy. It’s one song that always gets me smiling. When I searched feel-good songs today, I found that Walking On Sunshine has since been identified, based on neuroscience research, as one of the top 10 feel-good songs! The list also includes a few that might make you smile … including Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen), Dancing Queen (Abba), Good Vibrations (Beach Boys), Uptown Girl (Billy Joel), Eye of the Tiger (Survivor), I’m A Believer (Monkeys), Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper), Livin’ On A Prayer (Bon Jovi), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) … any of those make you smile? You might want to look up the Walking On Sunshine playlist for your practice (it’s a thing)! Whatever tune puts a grin on your face, enjoy and bring that feeling to others!

So SMILE. It will make you and those around you smile too! Want more information on how to get more new patients for your dental office – schedule a free consultation!