Too many dentists get hung up on the wrong marketing metrics. Ad clicks and impressions are nice, and necessary. Social media likes and shares are nice, and necessary. Having a high search engine results page (SERP) ranking is nice, and necessary. Lots of visits to your website are nice, and necessary.
However, none of those will make you any money. Not a dime. The ultimate goal of all your dental marketing (and the only way you make money) is to put more patients in chairs. That’s the single most important outcome.
It may be that your marketing needs some tweaks to make it perform better. But if you’re getting everything mentioned above—ad clicks, impressions, likes, shares, high SERP ranking, and website visits—your phone should be ringing. And if your phone is ringing, you should be getting lots of new, appointed patients.
If you’re not scheduling those new patients, it’s because your phone answerers are letting them drop through the cracks. Even worse, your staff may be driving them away. Those lost patient conversions are costing you a lot of potential income and represent a waste of your marketing dollars.
The front office dilemma
If you could move your operatory to the front office, you’d be able to keep at least half an ear on your phone answerers. As it is, you might overhear one or two new patient calls a week when you’re out of the treatment room—if you can identify them as new patients. That’s not enough to tell you whether your staff has the skills to consistently deal with new patient objections, manage the flow of the conversation, and appoint those new patients.
You could task another front office staff member to listen for mistakes. That would be an additional duty and still a hit-or-miss proposition. You might think that your staff is converting a very high percentage of new patients, and you may well be right. However, that would make you the exception. In my company’s work with more than 500 dentists, we discovered that dentists routinely overestimate their phone answerers’ success rate. Often, they overestimate by a wide margin.
There’s only one surefire answer to whether you’re getting all the new patients you possibly can from your marketing. You have to record and listen to each one of your calls. But there’s no way that you’d have time to do that.
That’s where a phone tracking system comes into play. There are dozens of such systems on the market varying in capabilities, reporting features, and ease of use. What most of them have in common, though, is that they record your incoming phone calls and store them for review.
The best systems live up to their name of “phone tracking.” Every aspect of your marketing is assigned a unique phone number that automatically forwards to your office phones. The system then notes the source of the call, so you know exactly what parts of your marketing are generating the most new patient calls.
My company, SmartBox, provides its dentists with the Zetetics phone tracking program. Every incoming call is recorded and saved in a database. The sources of new patient calls are automatically noted and stored. Zetetics can generate more than 120 reports for greater specificity, from geo-reports to the time of day of your highest call volume.
Dentists don’t have time to listen to their calls, so trained SmartBox employees listen to every phone call every month. Our dentists know when their phone answerers are succeeding or failing to appoint new prospects because we make it super easy for them.
There are very few people who are naturally gifted at putting prospects at ease, skillfully overcoming objections, and keeping callers on the line until they’re scheduled. For everyone else there’s phone training, which is available from numerous companies.
Phone training for your employees can get you more new patients—if there’s an existing problem with your staff. If there isn’t, you could be throwing money away. And phone training alone won’t tell you how many new patient callers aren’t being appointed. Nor will phone training tell you precisely which parts of your marketing are working to get you not only more patients, but more of the patients you want to treat.
Invest now, benefit for years
Stop letting your new patients fall through the cracks. Research and implement a full-featured phone-tracking program. If the call review demonstrates problems with your staff, it’s time to search and select a phone trainer. The effectiveness of that training will be demonstrated by later call review and the number of new patients you increase.
That may sound like a large expenditure, but it’s more appropriate to think of it as an investment. If you’re missing 20 new patients a month, even valuing them at $1,500, that’s $30,000 per month you could be producing without spending another dime on any marketing!
Your bottom line will thank you.
Colin Receveur, a nationally recognized dental marketing expert and speaker, is the author of a number of best-selling books on Internet marketing. His company, SmartBox Web Marketing, helps more than 500 dentists on three continents to get more patients, more profits, and more freedom. Reach him at [email protected].
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