Your patients have high expectations when it comes to customer service, so as you put telephone technique on your priority list, it is important for you to know that in general new patients calling your practice will decide within the first 30 SECONDS of their conversation whether or not they will schedule an appointment with you. No pressure!
To help you tackle the incredibly important task known as the New Patient Phone Call, here are 6 recommendations to work on in order to make sure you turn them from a potential patient into a scheduled patient.
1. Be Sincere
It may seem like such a small thing, but many people can tell how genuine you are in the shortest of conversations. Make a point to be friendly, smile when you answer the phone (it helps!) and be as authentic as possible. Press the “pause” button on whatever you are doing in order to give your full attention to the person on the other end of the phone. Believe me, they will notice.
2. Slow Speech (nice tempo)
When speaking with someone on the phone, there are many obstacles in your way for clear and effective communication. Catch yourself if you are a fast talker and slow … it … down. The last thing you want to do is have the new patient hang up and say “I didn’t catch a single word that person said.” Record yourself from time to time and listen back. An old technique that helps is to try saying your scripts while holding a pencil in your mouth. This practice forces you to slow down and enunciate your words.
3. Have a Script
The more prepared you are for what you need to say, how to appropriately answer frequently asked questions, etc., the more successful you will be in the conversation. Scripts give you and your team the opportunity to decide, as a group, how you would approach a conversation. This allows a unified front, so you can rest assured that everyone is on the same page on your team when speaking with a patient – or potential patient.
4. Listen (Active and Passive Listening)
Nothing is more important in relationship building than for your patient to feel ultimately listened to. It is also important for you to listen effectively in order to catch the pains and needs of your patients. All in all, once the new patient experience is said and done, you should be able to address the ultimate needs and wants of your patient and you will be providing the customer service they expect and a little bit more!
5. Speak in Layman Terms
When speaking dental professional to dental professional, conversations about dental services are completely different sounding than when it’s dental professional speaking to a dental patient. Yes, the dental patient in general is a much more educated patient when it comes to their dental care than ever before, but that does NOT mean they understand – or want to understand – the ins and outs and terminology of a root canal. Work together as a team to decide how best to describe your most common services in layman’s terms so that an 18-year-old or an 80-year-old would easily understand what to expect.
6. Monitor and Record your Conversations
It is important for tracking and for continued communication with each patient that you record in your practice management software the conversations you have with your patients so that you can make sure you follow up in an appropriate manner every time. This helps you both in the management of your schedule and patient base as well as in the management of your marketing efforts.
The more energy you put into your customer service efforts on the telephone, the better your results will be in bringing new patients into your practice from the initial phone call. Study other success stories, pay attention to businesses and companies that you and your team believe reflect the kind of service you want to provide and put those concepts into play in your practice. When you provide surprising and unexpected customer service, you not only gain a new patient, you gain a raving fan.