07.28.06 - Issue # 229 Forward This Article to a Friend

Say It “Right” and They Will Keep Coming

Jean Gallienne RDH BS
Hygiene Consultant
McKenzie Management
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The nicest, kindest, most giving employee in your office may be the one that affects your patient retention the most. It is not always what is said to a person that makes them like or dislike a particular practice or person, but many times it is how something is said. Whether it is on the phone, at the front desk, in the hygiene room, or the doctor’s room, voice intonations may make the difference of how accepting a patient is towards the treatment being recommended, keeping their appointments, and wanting to be a patient in your practice.

The tone in the senders voice can make the conversation become a negative or positive experience for both people just by a slight change in the pitch of the voice. Two people may say the exact same thing, but the tone that the message is sent will be what sets the attitude of the receiver.

When speaking on the phone, it is a well-known fact that speaking traits, barely noticeable when someone is standing in front of you, become more pronounced. Evaluation on the phone and in the office of the entire staff whose jobs require them to spend considerable time handling patients is very important. This may be done as easily as tape recording typical patient conversations and assessing their speaking delivery skills. In addition, team members should be given the opportunity to objectively critique recorded telephone presentations. (Most states require you to inform callers if you will be recording conversations.)

Evaluating conversations may be based on the following points:

  • Is the voice easy to hear, not too loud, not too soft?
  • Are the words clearly articulated?
  • Is the vocal tone pleasant, not condescending, gruff, shrill, nasally?
  • Is the rate of delivery comfortable, not too fast, not too slow?
  • Does the individual convey enthusiasm, confidence, helpfulness, and genuine desire to assist the patient?
  • Does the staff member show respect for the patient?

Many people have a tendency to mumble, speak too loudly, or consistently use incorrect grammar. Others speak so softly; they are virtually impossible to understand. Consequently, the patient has to work so hard that the interaction with the office becomes a chore, rather than an essential experience.
The office will typically benefit from having prepared presentations to ensure that staff members are ready to handle objections, cancellations, and many other patient scheduling obstacles that arise during routine patient care. The objective of the preparation is to control the conversation, and the goals are to schedule the patient and educate the patient. The presentation needs to be known so well that it comes off naturally to any staff member using it. This will help prevent the dental team from speaking off the top of their heads, and create consistent messages that are being relayed to patients.

Below are some questions you may want to ask yourselves while developing the presentation:

  • What action do you want the patient to take?
  • What is the current situation?
  • My focused objective is what?
  • My general objective is what?
  • What are the benefits for the patient?
  • What new services/practice features do you want to tell the patient about?
  • What specific information do you have about this patient?
  • What do you know about them personally?

Choose words, phrases, and questions that encourage patients to take the desired action and use words that express conviction, such as:

  • Definitely
  • Absolutely
  • Let me recommend
  • Certainly
  • I assure you

Patients buy the benefits of your services- not your services. They need to clearly understand how they will benefit from making and keeping their appointments.

However, no matter how great the script is, the tone of voice used while talking to the patient can make a difference. . Regularly record and assess the quality of your presentations and vocal delivery to ensure you do not fall back into old routines.

Interested in knowing more about how to improve your hygiene department? Email hygiene@mckenziemgmt.com.

Interested in having Jean speak to your dental society or study club Click Here.

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