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  04.21.05 Issue #163



Belle M. DuCharme,

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"Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it." Peter Drucker

What does it take to get higher patient treatment plan acceptance percentages? There are always obstacles that need to be addressed: fear of pain, value perception or cost, time away from work, fear of not liking the end result, trust that the doctor knows what he is doing etc. There are many key factors in communicating with patients that insures a higher treatment acceptance. One of these essential tools in communication is being a good listener.

When a new patient phones in to make the initial appointment it is important that 100% of your time is devoted to listening to that patient. That first impression is what stays with the patient and begins the bond of trust that will be a determining factor to how much treatment the patient will accept from your practice. Noise in the background, placing the patient on hold to answer other calls, sounding rushed or stressed over the phone, communicate a climate of anxiety for the patient making them uncomfortable before they have set foot in the office. A signal for other team members to answer incoming calls needs to be in place in anticipation of new patient calls. New patients always have a story and an expectation of what they will receive from your practice. Being in the moment with that patient will help set the tone for their first experience in your office. If the time is taken to listen to that patient without other interruptions and gather all necessary information including their “chief concern” the patient will be more receptive and relaxed when entering your office for the first time.

When speaking to the patient give “listening checks” such as paraphrasing, “Mrs. Brown, if I understand you correctly, you said that your previous dentist would not give you copies of your records.” Then pause for an affirmation from the caller.

Demonstrate empathy when a patient tells you something that was unpleasant for them. “Mrs. Brown that must have been very uncomfortable for you.”

Keep an open mind with the caller. “Mrs. Brown, even though I do not know the answer to all of your concerns, I am sure that we can help you make the right decision for your care when we have had the opportunity to do a complete examination.”

Sometimes patients have a difficult time communicating the symptoms of their dental problem over the phone and become frustrated that you don't “hear” what they are saying. Listen for intent as well as content. Explore the feelings of the caller while you are gathering facts. Listen for what isn't being said by the tone of the words and the mood of the speaker. Saying, “I understand that it is a challenge to explain your problem. We are excellent at solving dental problems and I am sure that we will be able to give you a clear understanding of your dental procedures.”

Guide the patient into an appointment by keeping the focus on the appointment. Consider every opportunity to listen as an opportunity to learn from the patient and to instill confidence in them that this is the right office for their dental care.

Remember that listening goes both ways. As you are listening to the patient, the patient is listening to your every word. A caring, engaged listening skill is one of the most important tools for success in patient treatment acceptance.

If you would like to learn how to develop your listening skills and improve your treatment acceptance, call The Center for Dental Career Development at 1-877-777-6151 and we'll help you take your business skills to the next level.

The McKenzie Company Upcoming Events
Date Location Sponsor Speaker
Apr. 29 Roanoke, VA Roanoke Valley Dental Society Sally McKenzie
May 12 Anaheim, CA California Dental Association Sally McKenzie
May 13 Rapid City, SD South Dakota Dental Assoc. Sally McKenzie
May 18 Westlake, CA
Conejo Academy of Dentistry Sally McKenzie

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