You Had Me at Hello: The Vital Role of the New Patient Phone Call

The patient experience begins the moment they call your practice. Actually, it began when they made the decision to call your office to make the appointment. That is when they decided to choose you for their care. Once they connect with you, it is the responsibility of the team to validate the patient’s decision.

Studies indicate the patient accepts your care within the first 10 minutes of coming into contact with the office. Those few moments are critical in making the right impression and establishing a relationship with the patient. That is why the telephone is one of the most important tools in the practice! Managing that tool well is essential in setting the right tone going forward with patient care, treatment acceptance and office protocol compliance.

How are your phone conversations going? Are they relationship based, inspiring patients to seek your care? Or are they focused on asking questions found on a standard patient information form? Is too much emphasis placed on explaining office protocols and informing patients of the “office rules” prior to their visit?

Ask the right questions that will lead you into a conversation with the patient and provide an opportunity to tell them more about the practice, the doctor and the way they will be treated while in your care. And always ask permission before you begin asking personal questions. “So I may schedule the appropriate appointment for you, may I ask you a few questions?” or “So I can begin establishing your information in our system, may I ask you a few questions?”

When the patient asks a question, respond with “I’d be happy to tell you more about that.” Avoid following a rigid “automated” phone format, or quoting “office policy.” The telephone relationship should be a two-way conversation, allowing the patient to tell you everything they want you to know.

And don’t rush through this vital process. Give the patient all the time they need to feel they have chosen the right office that will take good care of them. An excellent way to begin the conversation is to ask “What inspired you to seek our care?” or “What inspired you to call our office?”

Use this opportunity to let the patient know what is special about your practice:

“May I tell you a little more about the doctor?” or “May I share some information about our office?” Give the new patient the kind of information that will make them enthusiastic about meeting you.

The 80/20 rule applies here. Eighty percent of the reason a patient chooses your care is based on relationship. Twenty percent is determined by other factors such as location and facility. The relationship begins with the phone call.

You will have them at “Hello” when you modify or shift the primary objective of the patient’s first phone call from information gathering to establishing relationship.   Give the “Good News” about your practice from the moment they call, and the patient will be sure to become a valued part of your dental family, and tell others about your exceptional care.

Interested in learning more about making great telephone introductions? Consider joining me for a webinar on Tuesday, October 28 at 11 a.m. CST – I’ll be covering topics like how to discuss fees with patients, introducing office protocols, and tips for leaving short, impactful messages. Space for this webinar is limited, so be sure to register today!

8 thoughts on “You Had Me at Hello: The Vital Role of the New Patient Phone Call

    1. Christina, you might go to Debra’s website at There you can learn a little more please there are links to the registration page. Hope this helps.

        1. Hi Debra, this webinar took place a couple of months ago, but if you’re interested in seeing a recording of it, you can get in touch with Janelle Eck at 800.294.8504. She’ll be able to help you with any questions. Thanks!

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