Tuesday Tip from Pride Institute: Phone skills in your dental practice: Would YOU make an appointment?

Phone skills are an extremely important part of dental patient engagement. If the wrong person answers the phone at your dental practice, patients will move on to the next office. Make sure your phones are being answered right!

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How does your front desk sound when someone calls your dental practice? Like a computer? Like a telemarketer? Or worse yet, like a physician’s office?

You know how frustrated you get when you call a company and get tied up in a computerized routing system, or get placed on silent hold. You end up just dialing one of the myriad of options in the hopes you’ll get to a person who can direct you to who you want to talk to. Then you reach an operator in a distant part of the world who doesn’t speak English well. You state your requirement and the operator, reading off a script, picks up on a couple of your words and sends you off down a blind alley.

Now, your office is unlikely to be that bad, but you do need to be sure to “connect” with your callers as soon as you can. And by “connect” I mean not only a real live person talks to the caller, but also speaks directly to the caller’s concerns in a language (not dental jargon) the caller understands. As today’s smartphone users are learning, dialogue is more than text and a few emoticons, and they’re increasingly turning to real conversations.

So it is with your callers. They have issues, concerns, questions, and feelings. Your front desk personnel—and I hope you have enough coverage so that another team member can pick up the phone quickly when your primary appointment coordinator is busy—need to be able to tune into each caller right away. This not only takes language skills, it takes empathy and skill to guide the conversation toward a successful outcome. It means being the front line of marketing the practice and reassuring new callers that they made the right decision calling your office.

In essence, a good phone presence means developing a relationship with the caller. Using a phone template assists your front office team members in gathering information that is then passed on to the clinical team. This means means patients don’t have 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 questions and come up with correct answers, but also the people skills to get the answers across and keep the conversation moving forward. This will ultimately result in successful conversion of inquiring callers to 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 prideinstitute.com, and like them on Facebook.

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