Why you should offer online scheduling

By Sally McKenzie, CEO Printer Friendly Version

Scheduling a dental appointment with your practice shouldn’t be a hassle. Patients shouldn’t have to worry about waiting on hold to talk with someone or if your office will be closed for lunch when they finally have the time to call. Both scenarios lead to frustration and may result in these patients not scheduling at all.

If patients have trouble making an appointment with your practice—especially new patients—they won’t hesitate to reach out to another office. This, of course, does nothing to help practice productivity or your bottom line. Offering online scheduling enables patients to schedule an appointment when it’s most convenient for them, whether that’s noon on a Tuesday or noon on a Sunday.

With online scheduling, patients can use their smartphone, tablet or home computer to make their appointment. It’s easy to fit this task into their busy day, and that makes them more likely to do it. And as more health care providers offer online scheduling, they’re also coming to expect it—and might be disappointed if it’s not an option at your practice.

Still not sure you really need to offer online scheduling to your patients? Here are three reasons you should.

1. Your team members will spend less time on the phone. Dental teams handle a lot of phone calls throughout the day, and many are related to scheduling. If more patients schedule online, team members will spend less time on the phone, allowing them to focus their energy on the patients who are actually in the practice or past due. They’ll be able to develop connections with patients and really excel at customer service. This will improve the patient experience, and that helps to foster loyalty. Loyal patients are more likely to accept treatment and to refer, leading to practice growth.

2. Patients never actually make an appointment, costing you money. When patients pick up the phone to call your dental practice, they usually don’t have a lot of time to spare. They might be in between work commitments, or on their lunchbreak when they finally find the time to fit in a call. So, if they’re put on a seemingly endless hold, or are greeted by a message that asks them to call back later, chances are they’re going to hang up feeling pretty irritated—and without an appointment. The worst part? They might be annoyed enough to try another practice. That certainly won’t do much to increase practice production or revenues.

You don’t have to worry about missing out on patients who are ready to schedule if they have the option to go online to secure an appointment. Patients can log on when it’s convenient for them, and easily find an appointment time that fits into their busy schedule. After just a few short minutes on their smartphone or tablet, they can cross making a dental appointment off their to-do list.

3. Your days always seem to be chaotic. Many dental practices have multiple team members scheduling appointments, which leads to a mess of names and random procedure times that don’t make much sense—and a pretty stressful day. The randomness can lead to a lot of confusion, frustration and even conflict among team members. To reduce your stress and keep your days streamlined, I suggest you put one person in charge of your schedule, ideally your Scheduling Coordinator, and train this team member to schedule your days to keep you productive, not busy.

What does this have to do with online scheduling, you ask? Adding online scheduling that syncs with your practice management software will reduce the time it takes to enter patient appointments. It will also help keep your days streamlined and productive. You just need to find a system that best fits your practice. The available systems have a variety of features, so I suggest you determine exactly what you’re looking for and then do some research to ensure you find something that addresses your needs.

Reduce your stress level and increase practice productivity
Your schedule shouldn’t be a source of stress for you and your team members. It should streamline your day and keep you on track to meeting daily production goals. Adding online scheduling will help do that. Patients can make an appointment whenever they have time, and the slot they choose will automatically sync with your practice management system. That means your team members spend less time on the phone and less time entering appointments into the practice management software, improving efficiencies. They’re freed up to focus on providing exceptional customer service and performing other revenue-boosting tasks. This will do wonders for your practice, helping you finally meet your full potential.

Need help implementing online scheduling into your practice, or fixing your schedule in general? Feel free to reach out. As always, I’m happy to help.

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Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
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