Evaluating new dental office phone systems can be daunting, thanks to advancements in technology. Here are some terms and features to look for when your practice is in the market for a new phone.
If you’re in the market for a new phone system for your dental office, odds are things are a little different than the last time you were on the purchasing circuit.
Like our own personal phones, dental practice phones are now smart. Like, really smart — as in, you can have all of a patient’s information at your fingertips before even answering!
But, like with all things tech related, with more features come more terminology. And, unfortunately, it’s not always easy to see how such things help your practice.
Sure, phones still have call waiting, hold music, and multiple lines. When researching new phones, these are the things you likely already know and/or use.
But how about auto-attendants, dial plan editors, and custom greetings?
These features can all make life easier for your team, give an enjoyable experience to patients, and even help you schedule more treatment. This, despite sounding like little more than techie jargon.
Below, we’ve listed 10 features to keep an eye on when researching new dental office phone systems. Beyond that, we’ve cut through the fat to explain exactly what they are, and how they will assist you in your day-to-day.
Terms to Know for Today’s Dental Office Phone
What is it: A prerecorded message and menu that automatically answer every phone call
How it applies to a dental practice: Are you manually transferring calls? Probably not the best use of you or your team’s time. Auto-attendants, though, eliminate that distraction.
These nifty messages and menus are a win-win for your office and your patients. They can handle a ton of callers (win for you!), and they help callers quickly reach the team member or access the information they called for (win for your patients!).
What is it: The ability to record phone calls and play them back later
How it applies to a dental practice: Tracking your team’s phone skills is a big part of an office’s professional development. But it gets tough when you can’t hear the other person on the line; you lose all the context.
All that changes, though, with call recording. With this tool, you always have access to the entire audio of calls that your office picked up — you can hear both your team’s voice and the caller’s, giving you the context you need to truly assess your team’s phone skills and to ramp up training.
What are they: Customizable messages that automatically greet patients when they call your practice
How it applies to a dental practice: Whether you’ve formally defined it or not, your dental practice has a unique brand. And ideally, each patient touchpoint, like your Facebook page, your emails, your waiting area entertainment, and, yes, your phone greetings, reflects it.
Why is something seemingly so minor like a branded phone greeting so important? A call from a patient signals they want to engage with you — which means it’s an opportunity for you to make a meaningful, long-lasting impression.
With the custom greetings available on new dental office phone systems, you can get to show off your personality to make them smile and never forget you!
What are they: A customizable feature that provides dental teams the ability to route calls to voicemail or on-call team members on an as-needed basis
How it applies to a dental practice: Your office may be closed, but, the practice and the business inside it never do. They’re always operating.
Current patients will need to reach you outside of business hours, and prospective patients will search for you outside of business hours.
This feature ensures both kinds of patients have a way to reach your team. No matter the holiday or the time of day, custom schedules make that possible!
What is it: A phone-to-computer connection that enables you to call and text from your computer, and import call lists directly into Microsoft Outlook
How it applies to a dental practice: This life-saver solves a couple of goals dental teams have — get more done and build closer relationships with patients.
With the desktop integration, you can text quickly and easily with patients (which stats say patients are looking for from their doctors).
This feature simplifies making calls, too. Gone are the days searching for the patient’s number and mistyping it into the phone’s keypad. With desktop integration, you can call anyone in your contact list with one click!
Dial Plan Editor
What is it: A master call plan that you create to dictate where calls go, who answers them, and what information or options callers hear
How it applies to a dental practice: By mapping out all your call flows, like you would with a call tree, callers are automatically guided to the information they are looking for — sometimes without having to have a team member stop what they’re doing to pick up the phone. (Even better, you don’t need to rely on a pricey tech administrator to do it for you.)
For example, you can plan for callers to hear a wait-time estimate, meet the auto-attendant, reach the team’s voicemail boxes, or even hear sound clips — it’s up to you!
With the dial plan editor, you’re in charge, not your phone system or an outside IT team.
Fax to Email
What is it: An update that enables you to receive faxes as email attachments
How it helps your practice
How it applies to a dental practice: This space- and sanity-saver helps keep your office tidy and joyful, Marie Kondo style.
You no longer need to worry if your fax got picked up by the wrong person in the office or if it was misdelivered — because your faxes now arrive right in your email inbox.
Even better, you’ll no longer spend precious time scouring piles of old faxes, like maybe you do when you’re working with an insurance company. Just pull it up on your email in a snap!
What is it: An automatic back-up that routes calls to the line of your choice when you can’t answer the phone in time
How it applies to a dental practice: Imagine your office is short a team member or two, so you’re pulling double duty — you have to greet and intake patients as they arrive, manage the office phone, and keep an eye on your own office phone (on the other side of the office) for an important call you’re expecting.
Fortunately, you’ve set up line failover so that the call you’re expecting goes to the office phone that you’re closer to so you don’t miss it.
In other words, the line failover option saves your office from missing calls your team is unable to reach because they’re helping patients live their best life!
Voicemail to Email
What is it: A feature that sends voicemails to your email inbox so you can listen to them from your computer or even read their transcript
How it applies to a dental practice: How often are you able to check your voicemail manually these days? It’s tough, right? Checking voicemail can take you or your team out of their workflow, and it can be tough to remember to do without a notification, like we get on our smartphones.
With the voicemail-to-email feature, that’s no longer an issue: it eliminates the need to constantly remember to check for new messages.
And that means you’re less likely to miss important voicemails, like when a caller leaves a message like “Hi! I was wondering whether you’re accepting new patients. My family and I just moved here and need a dentist pronto!”
What is it: A capability that lets you speak to a team member on the phone without having the caller hear it
How it applies to a dental practice: Whispering is a tried-and-true tactic for training team members.
Unlike call monitoring or call recordings, where you listen to the calls, the whisper feature empowers you to deliver to your team member information in real time, like if you need to steer a conversation with a prospective patient in the right direction.
How about that for performance feedback?!
Focus on the Essential Few
Exploring the ins and outs of new dental office phone systems may seem intimidating — so much new lingo to know and new technology to master.
But starting slowly and focusing on only the essential new features, like we covered here and in our glossary, you’ll be a fluent expert in no time!
Built specifically for dental practices, RevenueWell Phone is a smarter phone system for your office. Learn more.