How many times does the phone ring and you groan that you have to answer it? It amazes me how many times I hear “I can’t get any work done because the phone keeps ringing.” I say “hallelujah – keep it ringing!” That means we have a good shot at scheduling patients and meeting our goals. If it’s not ringing – you may be in some trouble. That’s why it’s important to remember that the phone ringing means that not only is business good, but each phone call is another opportunity to grow the practice, and form meaningful relationships with patients. Each time you pick up the phone, keep the following in mind:
Energy: Be engaged, and be engaging. A smile can go a long way, even over the phone! Your tone should be warm and inviting, and always helpful.
Empathy: Patients want to know that you are on their side. Make them feel like their voice has been heard, and that you will do everything in your power to help them.
Extend Invitation: Schedule an appointment. Always say, “Let’s get an appointment scheduled for you.” Don’t say, “Would you like to schedule an appointment?” “What day works better – Tuesday or Wednesday? Morning or afternoon? 2 or 3?”
Emails: Get all relevant contact information. Get the phone number where you can reach them. Tell them that you will be sending them some information and you need their email address. Then send your web address for paper work and information about the practice and the procedure they may have been asking about.
Ending: Wrap it up and hang up on a good note. “I’m so glad you called today. We are looking forward to meeting you on Thursday at 2. Please take a few minutes before your appointment to complete your paperwork. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to call. Again, I’m Patti and will be happy to help in any way I can. Have a great day.”
Answer within 3 rings: Patients like to know that someone is always there ready to help them.
Control the conversation: Take charge by asking great questions, and re-direct the conversation to where you want it to go. You can take charge without being rude, and guide them to a solution that fits for your office and their schedule.
Keep calls short: So you can get open for the next caller – or for any other work that needs to happen around the office.
Shoppers: No problem. They are shopping for a reason. They need to know what something costs before they can commit to it. Great customer service on the phone could make or break a potential new patient.
“Sounds like you are shopping for a dentist. We would be happy to have you come in for a free consultation – no strings attached. We will take a look and see what needs to be done and give you an accurate quote.” Quoting is best done in office after consultation, not a guess over the phone.
Patients ask what it will cost or ask if you do a procedure, because they don’t know what else to ask. Don’t make them feel badly for asking.
Don’t ever quote one fee – always quote a range if you must. We have no idea what’s involved without looking first – so be careful that you aren’t diagnosing and quoting over the phone.
Next time the phone rings, I hope you say “YES!” because it is an opportunity for you to get a new patient, schedule a treatment, or establish a trusting relationship with an existing patient.