Telephone Skill and Customer Service - Do You Need Training?
In a dental office it is often thought that the people working at the front desk are solely responsible for customer service on the telephone. But customer service is everyone’s responsibility, from the CEO to the sterilization technician. Everyone on the dental team contributes to the organization’s reputation within the community.
Most dental offices use not only the telephone but email, fax, voicemail and social media to communicate with patients and other business representatives. Even with all those forms of communication, the telephone has not been replaced as a direct line to your practice. Think for a minute about what percentage of all customer/patient service is handled on the telephone. What percentage is handled face-to-face? Who on the team has more responsibility to satisfy patients and other callers such as referring dentists, laboratory technicians, sales people, dental supply representatives, insurance companies, IT support, etc.?
If your Scheduling Coordinator connects immediately with the caller, builds rapport and secures an appointment, but the patient is angered by the abrupt telephone manner of the Insurance/Financial Coordinator, would you say you had great customer service? If you are almost out of an item necessary for patient care that day and the dental assistant calls the dental supply representative demanding that the item be delivered today, is that good customer service? Do you think either of these people will refer patients to your practice?
If the largest percentage of your business comes through per the telephone, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure everyone answers the phone the same way, listens to the patient/customer or vendor the same way and provides the most excellent service possible?
Take Dr. Techy; he spent thousands of dollars on his website to attract new patients and to serve his existing patient base. Patients can send an appointment request, fill out forms and get all the information they need about the practice without picking up the phone – except of course for information that cannot be provided without a telephone conversation, such as individual insurance eligibility information and individual financial options. Websites have general information such as “We are in network for the following insurance plans” or “We accept almost all dental insurance PPO plans.” Information to file a claim properly is seldom received correctly over an online form because the patient does not know what the correct answer is to most insurance questions.
A new patient calls Dr. Techy’s practice after visiting the website and downloading the forms. He wants to know if they take his insurance. Dr. Techy has employed an Insurance Coordinator to answer these questions, however she is out sick and Mary the Hygienist is helping the Scheduling Coordinator. Mary takes the call: “Dr. Techy’s dental office, how can I help you? I am sorry I don’t know anything about the insurance, I don’t usually answer the phone, and I am just helping. I will take your name and number and our insurance person can call you back. I think she will be back in tomorrow but I am not sure.”
The following scripted responses should help give better customer service:
Or: “Thank you for calling Dr. Techy’s dental practice. This is Mary. How may I direct your call?”
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