Ring Up Your #1 Practice Builder
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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Take just a few steps to improve your practice’s telephone communication and you’ll ensure that every time the phone rings it will be music to your ears rather than alarm bells to your team. Step #1: Prepare before you pick up the phone. Prepared phone presentations ensure that when it comes to “managing the message” everyone is “singing the same hymn.”
Step #2: Identify your objective. What action do you want the patient to take? Do you want them to schedule an appointment, pay their bill, consider a new service that will benefit them, etc.? Use the following example to determine your communication objectives:
- What is the current situation?
The patient is due for their oral health exam and professional teeth cleaning.
- My focused objective is what?
To contact the patient and schedule an appointment.
- My general objective is what?
To reach a responsible party, to leave a message, or to call back at a specific time to schedule the appointment.
- What are the benefits for the patient?
Healthier mouth, maintain existing dental restoration, and overall better health and wellness.
- What new services/practice features do you want to tell the patient?
Whitening techniques, intra-oral camera, more convenient hours, doctor or staff recent certification in a particular specialty, patient financing options?
- What specific information do you have about this patient?
- Do they prefer a specific hygienist, a specific time of day?
- How do they want to be addressed –first name, Mr., Ms., Mrs.?
- Is the patient 10 years old or 30?
- Does the patient have insurance?
- Do they need to be pre-medicated?
- What do you know about them personally?
- Did they run a marathon?
- Was their child recognized in the newspaper recently?
- Did they just take a family vacation?
- The greater personal connection you can establish with patients the more committed they will be to your practice.
Using the communication objectives, develop telephone scripts that are tailored specifically for your practice. The examples below touch on a couple of scenarios and give a general idea of what a telephone script might include.
Contacting the busy executive – get to the point.
Hello Ms. Elliot, this is Michelle from Dr. Carey’s office. Our records show that you are due for your six-month exam and professional oral hygiene appointment. What time of day is best for you?
Ms. Elliot: This is a terrible time for me, Michelle. I’m under some really major deadlines at work, here. Can I just call you back when things free up for me?
Michelle: Let me give you one less thing to worry about, Ms. Elliot. I will give you a call back the week after next and we can see how your schedule looks. Also, let me drop in the mail to you some information about our evening and weekend hours, which we have recently expanded. You can get an idea of what times might work best for you. I assure you we will do everything we can to accommodate your busy schedule.
Following up on unscheduled treatment:
"Good morning, Mr. Jones? This is Ellen from Dr. Klein’s office. How are you? Great! Dr. Klein asked me to give you a call. She was reviewing the treatment she had recommended for you that had not been completed and was concerned about you. You had some areas that needed doctor’s attention last May. And Mr. Jones, we want to do everything possible to HELP patients, like you, get the care they need, so Dr. Klein asked me to let you know that we now have a relationship with CareCredit . It’s an excellent treatment financing company that allows you to get the necessary care you need right away, and it’s very affordable. In fact, the treatment doctor has recommended for you can be paid for in monthly installments of just $xxxx with no interest. We just need a little information to secure approval on those low monthly payments... (Walk patient through approval process) … Let me review doctor’s recommended treatment for you…
Now let’s get you on doctor’s schedule!
Step #3. Practice, practice, practice. The script provides a guide for the staff member and the patient should always feel they are having a normal conversation with the employee. Practicing, role playing, and preparing before you pick up the phone ensure that you make the most of every message you communicate to your patients.
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