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Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: Phone skills in your dental practice – would you make an appointment?

May 19, 2015
Make sure that those who answer the phone in your dental practice are able to connect with patients and turn inquiries into new patients. Do not let the treat callers like you've been treated with those frustrating calls where you're put on endless hold.
How does your front desk sound when someone calls? Like a computer? Like a telemarketer, or worse yet, like a physician’s office?

You know how frustrated you can get when you call a manufacturer or company and get tied up in a computerized routing system or get placed on a silent hold. You end up just dialing one of the myriads of options just hoping to get to a person. Then you reach an operator in a distant part of the world who doesn’t speak the same language. You state your request and the operator, reading from a script, picks up on a couple of your words and sends you off down a blind alley.

Your office is not likely to be that bad, but you do need to make sure that you “connect” with your callers as quickly as you can. By “connect,” I mean not only getting a real person to talk with each caller, but also to speak directly to each caller’s concerns in a language (not dental jargon) they understand. As today’s smartphone users are discovering, dialogue is more than texting and a few emoticons, and they’re increasingly turning back to real conversations.

Dialogue is more than texting and a few emoticons, and people are increasingly turning back to real conversations.

The same is true of your callers. They have issues, concerns, questions, and feelings. Your front desk personnel – and I hope you have enough coverage so that other team members can pick up the phone quickly when your primary appointment coordinator is busy with another call – need to be able to tune into callers right away. That not only takes language skills, but also empathy and the ability to guide the conversation toward a successful outcome.

It means being on the front line of marketing the practice, and reassuring new callers that they have made the right decision by calling your office. In essence, it means developing a relationship with each caller. Using a phone template assists your front office team members in gathering information that is then passed on to the clinical team, which prevents patients from having to tell their story over again, thus demonstrating seamless coordination in your practice.

Your front desk must have not only enough language skills, dental skills, and financial skills to understand the questions and come up with correct answers, but also the people skills to get the answers across and keep the conversation moving forward – ultimately resulting in the successful conversion of callers into new patients in your practice.

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Tuesday Tips from Pride Institute are provided weekly on their Facebook page as well as in this column in DentistryIQ. To ensure you don’t miss any of Pride Institute’s proven methods to take your practice to the next level, visit, and like them on Facebook.