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10.03.08 Issue #343 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Belle DuCharme CDPMA
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How to Make Great Impressions:
Telephone Skill Training

No this is not about alginate, silicon or any other dental impression material. This is about the memorable or not-so-memorable impressions you make on the telephone to potential patients seeking an appointment in your practice. Great impressions are not limited to the clinical arena. To achieve excellence in patient care they are important to the dental business arena as well.

The telephone is the potential dental patient’s first point of contact to your dental practice. How that call is handled will determine whether you have a new patient or not. If you are like me, you’ve had the experience of calling a doctor’s office only to hear the phone ring, ring and ring. Other times, you’ve had someone pick up the receiver, only to hear, “Please hold.” And then there is the situation when you are transferred so many times that you have no idea to whom you am speaking, and so get caught repeating the story over again. Fortunately, great phone skills are like any other communication behavior. They can be learned, practiced and polished to perfection.

Telephone Skill Training is one of the newest products offered by McKenzie Management. It was designed to improve customer service and attract and keep more new patients. The training consists of three 30-minute training sessions presented interactively online and on the phone with a McKenzie Management instructor. The training provides protocols and powerful scripts to secure new patient appointments while teaching your business team phone finesse to impress. The training also includes

  • 3 mystery patient calls with audio clips and detailed report follow-ups
  • progress feedback report via email at the end of the training
  • copy of training slide presentation after each session
  • scripts for new patients, insurance and patient retention
  • telephone call forms

The primary emphasis of receiving incoming calls is to make a connection to the patient and build rapport in just a few sentences by focusing on the caller, engaging in active listening, knowing the services and products the practice offers and being able to guide the patient to accept an appointment.

The mystery patient calls are placed at random to the offices to ensure that none of the team suspect what day or time the calls will come in. The report sent to the doctor afterward includes a write-up and audio clips of the phone calls. After listening to many of these audio clips, I have identified several reasons why patients may feel disenchanted about the service they are expecting in your practice. Some observations of how new patients are handled include:

  • being placed on hold for more than a minute without being asked
  • being placed on hold for more than a minute with no message or hold information---just dead silence
  • not being told how long the patient could expect to wait on hold
  • not receiving driving directions to the practice
  • not being informed of availability of parking or restrictions to parking
  • not being quoted a fee for the new patient visit or emergency visit
  • being asked for insurance information before being asked for names
  • having trouble understanding what is said because of poor grammar
  • not being asked about the previous dentist or about the existence of dental records
  • being told that appointments were not available and not being offered solutions
  • receiving answers to patient questions in a monotonous, blunt fashion without warmth
  • being asked to repeat information already provided
  • not being offered a patient packet with information about the practice and health history forms to fill out (with instructions) to bring to the appointment
  • not hearing, “We look forward to meeting you!” at the end of the call
  • being told that an appointment would not be available for several weeks
  • being told that, “We don’t do things like that in our office,” when inquiring about possible care at appointment
  • not being told of the existence of a website where they could get information about the practice

Dentists often ask why they are not busier and have “holes” in their schedules. They often seek out external marketing programs to make the phone ring with potential new patients only to have those patients call elsewhere because the poor customer service drives them away. Studies show that when a new patient calls they are ready to “buy” and want to secure an appointment within two weeks. If a dentist wants to capture this patient, he/she must not create barriers to getting in to the office. To improve your customer service and get more new patients, sign up your team today for Telephone Skill Training.

For more information about McKenzie Management’s Advanced Training courses, email, call 1-877-777-6151 or visit our website at

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