There are hundreds of phone training systems available in dentistry, and you may have been through many of those yourself. No doubt, if you work in any industry where the telephone is the first point of contact, you understand the importance of handing that initial greeting in the right way.
Most likely, you have learned to “smile” while you answer the phone, put a mirror in front to the phone, and/or develop an original greeting to capture the attention of the caller. All of these are great suggestions and probably helped you improve your phone skills as you become more experienced in your administrative role.
There are key aspects of any phone training system that the Academy would agree with. For instance, your initial greeting should be warm and informative, and include an added pertinent statement, whether it be “Good morning” or simply “Thank you for calling.” The greeting must be enthusiastic and welcoming, should include the name of the practice as well as the name of the administrative person answering the phone. It’s important for the caller to know where they called and to whom they are speaking. Here is one very simple example: “Good afternoon, thank you for calling ABC Dental. This is Kelly…… etc.”
With the many phone training systems available to us, dental offices often use a greeting similar to this: “Hello. Thank you for calling ABC Dental. This is Kelly, how may I help you?” That sounds pleasant, and with the correct vocal tone could sound enthusiastic, warm and welcoming. If one were to run this greeting through a common checklist for great phone skills, it would most likely pass the test. However, there is one particular change the Academy would recommend that will automatically increase the engagement of the caller. But first, let’s look at the ending of the greeting mentioned above.
One of the most important things you want to achieve is to take control of the call and begin building rapport with the caller, who is a potential long-term patient! What is the life-long value of a new patient? Just how important is it that we engage the caller, build a relationship and schedule the patient? In asking these questions, we realize the importance of the first few minutes of the call. So, in order to do all of those things, is very simply to know to whom we are speaking, right?
So let us make one very small, but extremely important change in the earlier mentioned greeting. It should sound like this: “Good afternoon, thank you for calling ABC Dental. This is Kelly.” Most likely, the caller will greet you back with something like this, “Hi Kelly, I was wondering if you take new patients?” So, obviously now is the opportunity to collect their name and a phone number in case you get disconnected.
Another example might be, “Hello, this is ABC Dental and we welcome smiles of all ages! This is Kelly, to whom am I speaking?” Either way, we have started building the relationship by gathering the caller’s name and we have maintained control of the call, allowing us to find out the true reason for the patient’s call and schedule accordingly. This is the first and most important step in creating a valuable, but yet efficient, new patient phone call.