Make a positive impression on dental patients with an excellent phone presence
The front office staff who answer initial phone calls and call to confirm dental appointments need to make excellent impressions in order to reassure patients and encourage new patients to make appointments
The first thing people do when they need to make a dental appointment is reach for the phone and call the dentist’s office. Because it is such an important part of any practice’s everyday business, the people who answer the phone should always be friendly and reliable. In the initial conversation, new patients in particular are looking for reassurance, clarity, and professionalism. They need to feel secure that their treatment will be in trustworthy hands.
The more personalized the phone conversation, the more positive a person’s first impression. Therefore, the challenge for front office staff is to answer calls as quickly as possible, and to be friendly and discreet, as well as support the patients who are in the office. A uniform reception process that is followed by all team members will make a good impression on patients, and serve as a kind of “audible business card” for practices.(1)
In many practices, the front office staff often contact patients two to three days beforehand to confirm their appointments. This helps the entire team prepare better for scheduled treatments. During this phone conversation, there is a danger that patients may feel pressured or even postpone or cancel their appointment. Therefore, this reminder call requires a great deal of sensitivity, especially in the case of rather unpleasant procedures such as implants or a root canal.
Instead of calling patients simply to confirm an appointment, a communication that prioritizes the patient’s healthis more appropriate. Before the appointment, staff should call patients and give them the opportunity to talk about their current dental health and any potential problems they may be having. This communication gives anxious patients the chance to ask questions about the procedure they’ll be undergoing. If a patient doesn’t confirm the appointment during the call, the front office manager can ask for confirmation at the end of conversation, without coming across as pushy.(2)
Courtesy calls offer many benefits – dentists, hygienists, and assistants can prepare for appointments on a more individual basis, while patients will feel more secure and reassured. This courtesy makes it more likely that patients will arrive for their appointment in a relaxed frame of mind.(3)
ALSO BY ANITA MAECK AND KATHARINA SCHMIDT:What patients expect from their dentist: The overall impression needs to be right
Anita Maeck, left, and Katharina Schmidt are editors at “dieleutefuerkommunikation,” a communication agency in Sindelfingen, Germany. They write for Sulzer Mixpac Ltd., a leading manufacturer and supplier of cartridge-based metering, mixing, and dispensing systems and disposable mixers for reactive multi-component materials. Find more information about Sulzer on sulzer.com/microsites/tips-for-dentists. If you have questions, email Katharina Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or Anita Maeck at email@example.com.
1. DZW: “Professional phone services in dental practices” (in German). http://www.dzw.de/artikel/professionelles-telefonieren-der-zahnarztpraxis-1. 25 February 2013. Last access: 26 June 2014.
2. Facebook: Pride Institute – Dental Practice Management. Sharyn Weiss: “Confirmation versus Courtesy Calls”. Posted: 25 February 2014. Last access: 26 March 2014.