Tips For Making Your Dental Practice Stand Out When Answering The Phone
Even though we are firmly established in the digital age, you most likely still see your analog telephone as an important communication tool for your dental practice. However, what you may be overlooking is that telephone conversations are vital opportunities for you to add value to the patient experience. In order to succeed in this your staff has to be properly trained to effectively engage your patients over the phone, and to deliver consistent and clear communication touchpoints that emphasize the value proposition of your practice.
Answer the phone quickly, and answer the phone for every call during business hours
Let’s start with the most basic things that you can do to set yourself apart over the telephone, because you might be surprised how many practices routinely neglect the basics. When the phone rings, it immediately becomes your first priority, and you must answer it as quickly as possible. Answer it with two rings whenever you can, because patients will make mental notes of even small annoyances that impact their experience.
Secondly, don’t let your callers go to your voicemail during business hours. This is your only opportunity to make a first impression, and many people will simply hang up and move onto the next office on their list rather than leave a message.
Maintain positive body language
We all have bad days where we want to just slouch in our desk chairs and zone out while doing rote work, but you have to remember that your body language when answering patient phone calls will translate across the medium and make an impression on the caller. If you’re scowling, slouching, or barely holding your eyes open, the person on the other end of the line will pick up on your feelings no matter what words come out of your mouth. On the other hand, smiling, upright, and enthusiastic employees will radiate positivity, helpfulness, and confidence that will leave the patient feeling in good hands.
Avoid putting callers on hold whenever possible
You’ve no doubt experienced the frustration of calling a customer service number and being placed on hold immediately, with no known end in sight. Don’t make this same mistake with your patients. Try and resolve all of their queries without putting them on hold at all. If you do have to place them on hold, make sure it isn’t the first thing you say to them. Explain what you need time to resolve and give them a reasonable estimation of the delay.
Embrace every opportunity to build the relationship
Prospective and current patients aren’t typically just calling your office because they need a piece of information; these days they can solve many of those problems without leaving the Google search page. They are calling because they want to establish or reinforce a relationship with the practice. As representatives of the practice, the most important role for you and your employees when answering the phone is to nurture these relationships. You need to answer their basic questions, of course, but don’t treat the interaction as merely transactional.
Use the patient’s name frequently. Ask about how your practice can help them specifically. Not only will this help you gather important information about them, but most people appreciate opportunities to talk about their situations. Finally offer to schedule an appointment for them, because you don’t have to wait for them to ask.
Use the promise of value to overcome pricing objections
Whether you accept insurance plans or not, and regardless of the average income level of your patient base: you’re going to face pricing objections. It’s an inevitable fact of the business, and you have to effectively train your staff to respectfully address these objections over the phone and affirm the patient’s trust in your offering.
This is one reason it helps to learn as much about a patient as possible, because you can then tailor your value to their unique needs. Assuming you believe that your services are worth their cost—and you shouldn’t be in business if you don’t!—then you should be able to articulate the reasons why to callers. This is a technique that salespeople use to overcome objections with regularity, and it can help you practice as well. Frame the conversation around value, not price, and the patient will internalize why the exchange of value is warranted and beneficial.
Don’t wait to get started utilizing these techniques, because every time a patient calls you have an important opportunity for engagement!