I have spoken about this many times before. The phone is one of the most important Dental Instruments in your Practice.
A good test would be to disconnect your phone for a day. Yes you will still receive emails, probably asking why your phone is not working.
Talking to a person in the Dental Office directly on the phone, is still the best way to communicate with our patients.
If the phone is so important, why do we not treat it with the respect it deserves and make sure the operators of the phone know what to say and do when they pick it up?
To check if your Dental Office phones are being used effectively, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Is the phone being used to call patients?
I see many practices only pick up the phone when it rings. The phone is a way to communicate with our patients when they are not at the Dental Office. The phone is one of the most important and effective instruments in the dental office.
Each day there needs to be a goal set to call and reactivate or follow up patients. You do want to keep the number of patients that need to contacted to a minimum by making sure all your patients have ongoing appointments.
There are also other fabulous reasons to contact patients such as letting your patients know you are looking forward to seeing them the next day for their appointment (confirmation calls), calls to celebrate special occasions and to check if they are feeling alright after their treatment.
2. Are patients making their next appointment before they leave?
When a patient leaves your Dental Office, you want them to make their next appointment and pay for their treatment.
Saying to a patient “would you like to make an appointment?” is not making an appointment for a patient.
It is the best way not to make an appointment.
The patient’s answer is usually, “Let me think about it.” or “I need to go home and check my diary.” This now involves following up with the patient as they will now put off making a decision or often forget to call and make the appointment.
Making the appointment for your patient before they leave is so much easier and helpful for your patient and the dental office.
It is also alright to make appointments 3-6 months down the track. Getting your patients into a rhythm of making appointments when they leave is the key to running a successful appointment book that you are in control of.
When the appointments are made you want the patient to take their appointment seriously and know this time has now been “confirmed”. Always avoid language like “I will call you if you need to change this time”. If your patients believe this time has been reserved for them they are very likely to keep this appointment even if it is 3-6 months away.
3. Is the phone being answered correctly?
As business owners of your Dental Practice I would always suggest paying attention on a regular basis and listening to calls coming in to the Practice and how they are answered.
The front office only knows what they know.
Ensure that everyone who answers the phone in the Dental Office, answers it the same.
“Thank you for calling ABC Dental, this is Jenny. How may I help you?”
Your phone greeting should have three parts. The name of your business, the name of the person taking the call and always making sure the caller is asked how you can help them.
4. Are appointments being made over the phone?
The people answering your phone are doing their best most of the time but you need to make sure the phone is being answered effectively and the outcome of most calls is an appointment is being made.
If your phone is ringing and the rate of appointments being made is low, then it is a good indicator that the people answering the phones do not have the skills needed to make appointments over the phone.
Developing skills to answer the phone is vital to your business.
I have given you a few questions to start thinking about. Stay tuned for next week’s blog when I look at other ways to check if your phone is being answered effectively.
This blog will feature simple practical ideas that are easy to implement tomorrow in your Dental Office, impacting immediately on your Patients’ Dental Phone Experiences, and ultimately, improving your practice profitability.
At present I have availability for two new private clients. For more information on how I can improve your Dental Office’s Phone Numbers contact me, Jayne Bandy at jayne@theDPE.com