11.27.09 Issue #403 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague


Nancy Caudill
Senior Consultant
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The New Patient Phone Call… Does Yours Work For You?

Dr. Steve Conklin– Case Study #345

Dr. Conklin just invested in a direct mail marketing campaign for his practice. The number of new patients seeking professional cleanings and a comprehensive exam had dropped from 26 a month to only 18 a month.  As a result, his production had also been effected, since 50% of his treatment comes directly from the new patients that he has the opportunity to present a treatment plan to.

His reason for contacting McKenzie Management was a valid one. After he made the decision to market directly to potential patients in the area, he also wanted to make sure that his business coordinators were managing the incoming phone calls for maximum potential. Good for him! It doesn’t make any difference how many potential patients are calling if they are “turned off” by their initial contact to his office.

Dr. Conklin’s Practice Facts:

  • He participates only with Delta Dental Premier PPO.
  • His practice hours are 8:00 – 5:00, Monday – Thursday with lunch from 12:00 – 1:00.
  • He employs one hygienist who also works 4 days a week, the same hours.
  • All hygiene patients are pre-scheduled six months in advance.

Before we start to review the dialogue that is currently being used by his Practice Coordinator when she answers the phone, let’s take a closer look at his current facts:

PPO Participation: Depending on your location, the number of years your practice has been open and many, many other considerations, PPO participation is not uncommon.  Dr. Conklin has managed to grow his practice without signing with other PPO plans and would prefer to only maintain a relationship with one, if possible.

Office Hours: An attempt should be made to accommodate as many patients’ schedules as possible. Early morning appointments at 7:00am are the most sought-after appointments in most dental offices.  After hours and evening can be, but more for emergencies opposed to the established patient base. Patients are busy after work with personal errands and events, such as kids’ sports, workouts, etc.

Also, Dr. Conklin’s lunch hour was scheduled too early in the morning.  It is important to have as long a morning as possible for increased morning production. Many patients have their lunch break at noon; therefore, they would be available to visit Dr. Conklin’s office if he were open during their lunchtime.

Number of Hygiene Days: It was determined statistically that Dr. Conklin needed 2 additional days of hygiene per week. New Patients were waiting weeks before they could be seen.  The “no show” rate for his new patients was 40%.

Pre-scheduling: In addition to being short-staffed in hygiene, all hygiene patients were pre-scheduled in advance. There were NO openings available for past due patients, SRPs, and new patients. This is the kiss of death for the Hygiene Department! 

The New Patient Telephone Call should contain the following in this order:

  • The greeting: “Thank you for calling Dr. Conklin’s office. This is Mary. How may I help you?”  If a clinical person is helping cover the phones or there are more than one person working in the business area, the correct response after the greeting would be, “How may I direct your call?”
  • Obtain the patient’s name if they do not offer it. Refer to them by name when appropriate.
  • “How did you hear about us?” Not only is this information for marketing purposes but it also allows an outlet for some rapport-building. “Sandra is one of our favorite patients. We will be sure to thank her for thinking of us.”
  • “How may we help you?” Allow the patient to express their concerns and ask a couple of questions to continue the rapport-building.
  • “May I take a moment to tell you about your first visit with us?” Have a written script that expresses how special your office is. Tell the patient in terms they will understand about your digital records, intra-oral camera, laser cavity-detectors, thorough oral cancer and blood pressure screening, the comprehensive exam by the doctor followed with a complete treatment plan and a visit with the hygienist for the continuation of your visit. 
  • Tell the new patient how long they will be in the office so they can make plans.
  • If necessary, ask if you will be assisting them with a dental supplemental plan.
  • Schedule their appointment, allowing for uninterrupted time with the doctor.  Remember that you only have one chance to make a good first impression, so make it GREAT!
  • Invite the patient to visit the practice’s website for a map, downloadable forms and other interesting facts about their new practice.
  • Thank them for calling. Every new patient is a diamond and Dr. Conklin is making an investment in order to make the phone ring.

One last thing: don’t forget to SMILE!  A caller can’t see you but they can hear the smile in your voice. Speak slowly and clearly. The new patient doesn’t know that it is the end of the month and you still need to send out statements, call about unpaid insurance claims, confirm Mondays’ patients and file charts. Take a deep breath and remember that you are on stage from the time you walk in the office until the time you walk out…every day.

If you would like more information on how McKenzie's Practice Enrichment Programs can help you IMPLEMENT proven strategies, email info@mckenziemgmt.com.

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