The One Tool that Will Make or Break You
It’s the most important piece of technology in your practice. Everyone uses it. It’s the gateway to a full schedule. It’s the central nervous system of your profitability. It is your most valuable marketing tool. So why do so few of your employees know how to use it effectively? Because it’s “just the phone.” And that attitude is catastrophic to practice growth. According to Google, more than 60% of customer searches that result in a contact to the business will be via phone, and that percentage is increasing not decreasing.
Thus, as current and prospective patients Google your office specifically or search online for dental practices near them, it’s often because they are ready to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment and/or gather additional information about your services and your schedule. That phone call, that interaction with your staff, will be a defining moment in their decision to schedule the appointment or put if off a little longer. It will be the point at which they decide to make your practice their dental home or skip to the next one on the Google search page.
So what happens when current and prospective patients call your practice? Do you know? After all, it’s way up there at the front desk, and you are busy in the treatment rooms building relationships with your patients, recommending treatment, delivering superior care. But what about the patients you’ll never meet or never see again because those who verbally convey your brand day after day are telling patients that you don’t have time, you are not flexible, you are not helpful, nor are you patient, kind, or compassionate. Not directly, of course, but the message is still clear. Don’t believe me? Consider these oh-so-common telephone scenarios that are taking place right now in practice after practice.
The phone rings, the business employees are busy. They don’t have time for the distraction because they are taking care of more pressing concerns, like the patient in front of them. The result: “Doctor’s office. Please hold.” Click. In a mere four words, the employee told the caller that this office is too busy to extend the simple courtesy of politely asking if they could be placed on hold. At least the patient knows immediately that this practice doesn’t have time for them.
In other cases, the prospect is reeled in a bit more slowly. For example, this office’s inflexible policies do little to encourage patients to schedule: “Dr. Boyd’s office. This is Mary. How may I help you?” Things start out beautifully. Caller: “Yes, I am new to town and I would like to schedule an appointment for my two daughters. They will be starting school next month, so I wanted to get them in before that.”
A family of new patients, now that is exciting! The staff member should be enthusiastic, welcoming, and prepared to make it as easy as possible for the parent to get her children in to the practice. Instead, the mother is told, “Just so you know, Dr. Boyd does not take dental insurance, so you will be expected to pay at the time of the visit.” Well now, how’s that for rolling out the welcome wagon!
Oftentimes, employees simply don’t realize how they come across over the phone. They believe they are doing their job and making sure that callers know the rules and the requirements of the office. It never occurs to them that their job is to make people want to come in for an appointment. Their responsibility is to reassure callers that they have made the right choice and the doctor and dental team will take excellent care of them.
Take a few simple steps to improve phone communication immediately:
Effective telephone skills among your team are absolutely critical in communicating your brand and conveying your practice philosophy to current and prospective patients from the very start and in every interaction thereafter. If you don’t know how patient phone calls are handled, it’s likely that they are not handled well. Find out. Then train your employees to ensure that the primary gateway to your practice profitability isn’t a concrete wall.
McKenzie Management offers Telephone Skill Training to help improve your business team’s communication skills and secure new patient appointments. Details can be found HERE or call us at 877-777-6151.
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