How to Improve the New Patient Phone Call
It’s safe to say most of your team members would rather not deal with new patient calls. Not only do they see them as a disruption, they’re just not comfortable answering the many questions patients have about your practice and the services you offer. So rather than focusing on the patient, they focus on hanging up the phone as quickly as possible – which means instead of scheduling that first appointment with you, these patients are likely turning to the practice down the street.
This, of course, hurts practice production and your bottom line. Just think about all the undiagnosed treatment and all the family and friends these potential new patients might have referred. The truth is, if you’re not properly handling new patient calls, you’re missing out on an opportunity to grow your practice. Remember these patients called you for a reason. Maybe someone referred them or they’re interested in a service you offer. No matter the reason, the goal should be to get these patients on the schedule, not to get them off the phone as soon as possible.
So how can you improve new patient calls? Train your team members. Make sure they see these calls as an opportunity, not a nuisance. Patients don’t want to feel like they’re bothering you when they call. They want to talk with someone who’s friendly and who can answer their questions about the practice.
Your team members should listen to these potential new patients and work with them to find solutions to their problems. Never say things like “no we can’t” or “we don’t do that.” This only puts up barriers to care and leaves patients feeling like your practice just isn’t the right fit. Instead, tell them how your practice can help.
Another tip? Train team members to smile when they talk to patients on the phone, just as they would when they greet patients in person. Speaking clearly and professionally is also key to making sure new patient calls are successful.
Making these adjustments will go a long way toward getting more new patient callers on the schedule, but it isn’t enough. I also suggest you develop detailed scripts that team members can turn to during these calls. Using scripts ensures your messaging remains consistent, while also making team members more comfortable answering the phone. They’ll never have to worry about stumbling over their words or being caught off guard. They’ll know exactly what to say, which makes them more confident.
So what should be part of the new patient phone call script? Here’s what I suggest you include:
• Start out by greeting the caller. “Thank you for calling Dr. Taylor’s office. This is Sarah. How may I help you?” If a clinical team member is covering the phones or if there’s more than one person working in the business area, then add this after the greeting: “How may I direct your call?”
• Find out the patient’s name and use it when appropriate.
• Ask “How did you hear about us?” This not only tells you which of your marketing efforts prompted the call, it also helps you start creating rapport with the patient. If he or she was referred, say something like “Larry is one of our favorite patients. We’ll certainly thank him for thinking of us.”
• Next, ask “How may we help you?” This gives the patient an opportunity to express any concerns and ask questions about the practice. It’s also another great way to continue building rapport.
• Educate patients about your practice by asking “May I take a moment to tell you about your first visit with us?” Tell patients how special your office is and explain the different services you offer. Let them know about the comprehensive exam they’ll receive and the exceptional care the dentist and the rest of the team provides.
• Tell them how long the appointment will take so they can make plans.
• Schedule the appointment and be sure to allow for uninterrupted time with the doctor.
• Before hanging up, thank the new patient for calling.
Your team is busy, but they shouldn’t be too busy to take new patient phone calls. Look at these calls as an opportunity for growth, and you’ll convert these potential new patients into loyal patients who entrust you with their dental care.Forward this article to a friend
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