In the world of dentistry we often want to know what other dental offices are doing to create an excellent customer experience, especially on the phone.
We start to believe that if other dental offices are doing it then it must be OK. The truth is that most of the time what others are doing is not OK.
Imagine if you have been speaking to your prospective patients and patients the wrong way.
Here are five things everyone else is doing that they should not be doing:
1. Letting patients know that you will confirm their appointment
Confirming appointments is so important. No one wants to turn up to work and then patients don’t come to appointments because they have forgotten. We want our patients to be fully informed and ready for their appointment day and time.
When we make a patient’s appointment we more often say to them, “Mr Jones I will call you two days before your appointment to confirm everything is still ok.” Mr Jones is happy that you will now remind him and if something else comes up, he can cancel at that time, because he is expecting your call.
I know you didn’t really say that to Mr Jones but the message you sent him was exactly this.
Why not confirm Mr Jones’ appointment at the time of making it? Mr Jones is paying attention and has confirmed this time with you. Use language like, “ Mr Jones I have now confirmed that time for you and have booked it in the appointment book. I will let Dr Smith know he will be seeing you on this day.”
Don’t mention anything about a confirmation call two days before, which of course you will be making anyway. By doing this one thing at the time of making the appointment you will increase the patient’s commitment to this appointment and eliminate the likelihood that they will forget or feel compelled to cancel their appointment.
2. When patients call to cancel we reschedule another appointment or follow up later
This one action in your Dental Office can cause so much disruption to your appointment book, to your daily production, and to the revenue keeping you in business. You want to prevent cancellation calls as much as possible and if you do get the calls then you want to give the patient the opportunity to change their mind.
I hear calls coming into Dental Offices so often and the call is immediately handled with, “that’s OK Mr Jones.” It is not OK but I do understand there are some very good reasons that dental appointments need to be cancelled. Don’t be so quick to accept a patient’s cancellation call. Discuss their reason and look to see if there is a reasonable solution that allows the patient to still keep their appointment. If you start to do this with the cancellation calls, you will be so surprised at how many patients actually will keep their appointments.
3. We let patients choose a convenient appointment time
Yes, you do want to always give your patients a choice with their appointment times but there is no need to give them a shopping list of appointment times. Your patient will become confused and are likely to say, “Look I will just check those times and get back to you.”
Only give your patient the choice of morning or afternoon then a choice of two appointment times. That is it. Nice and easy and quick for an appointment to be made. The beauty of doing it this way is it will fit perfectly into your appointment book template and the patient will be happy.
4. We let our patients know everything there is to know
Overkill does kill us eventually. Never ever presume what your patient wants and needs to know.
Ask your patient questions and find out first what they want to know. You can then decide what else they need to know. Again keep it simple and easy for your patients.
I listen to front office teams on the phone and I often feel exhausted listening to the monolog that the caller receives. Most Dental Offices do this. “Less is more” works well on the phone. Let your caller do all the talking. Just listen and ask more questions.
5. We send out reminder cards and letters for their overdue appointment
Ideally you want to have a very low number of patients that have no ongoing appointments. Every patient of the practice should have a future appointment with your practice, be it for restorative treatment or for future hygiene. Throw out the reminder cards. Most reminder cards I see are generic and not specific to the needs of each individual patient. Most Dental Offices send these cards.
What happened to simply calling your patient? “Dr Smith has asked me to give you a call regarding your appointment.” The call then becomes interesting because the caller lets you know they have no appointment and you explain that’s why you are calling. Calling your patient gives you an opportunity to talk specifically about the treatment they still need and if anything has popped up that Dr Smith needs to know about. Questions can be asked both personally and dentally that just can’t happen in a reminder card.
There are so many other things we are doing that we think are right just because everyone else is doing them. These are five of the big ones.
This blog features 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 four 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