When patients call your dental office, the first point of contact they have is with the person who answers the phone, which is why dental front office training is so important. The dental phone greeting sets the tone for the call and will help make your company look organized, upscale, and well-put-together.

Watch a discussion with Heather Nottingham and Alex Nottingham JD MBA on the importance of an amazing greeting:

On the flip side, a poorly executed phone greeting can spell disaster and reflect poorly on your dental office image. Here are nine essential elements to use when answering your phone:

Dental Phone Greeting Tips:

1. Speak slowly and clearly. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to allow your pace and tone of voice get out of control if you are feeling rushed, nervous, or generally in a bad mood. Just keep this in mind when speaking with a patient, especially a new patient. Tip: take a deep breath before answering the phone.

2. Be happy, upbeat, and smile! Believe it or not, a caller can sense your physical “mood” over the phone. A smile helps you sound interested and genuine.

Click here to learn more about avoiding an easy-to-make mistake when working with callers on the phone: 6 Ways to Combat Awkward Phone Silences

3. Make sure everyone who answers the phone says the same thing. A consistent greeting establishes a professional tone right away. Try this verbiage: “Thank you for calling the office of XYZ! This is Heather, how may I assist you?” This will make your office more unified, organized, and is a great way to convey the atmosphere and attitude of your practice.

4. It’s important that the person who answers the phone says their name. This is one of the first steps to begin the process of building rapport with the patient on the line.

5. Use Active Listening techniques. Active listening techniques help both you and the patient as they ask their question(s), makes their request, or states the reason for their call.

6. If the patient does not state their name, kindly ask, “And who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” You can’t start building rapport with a complete stranger. As soon as you have their name, you are no longer a stranger!

7. If the patient does say their name, reply, “Hi, patient name!  How are you doing today?” This will literally stop the patient in their tracks, help you take friendly control over the conversation, and shows you care. Friendly conversation is the best way to build rapport and will help in your overall interaction with the patient.

8. Assess the needs of the patient and re-phrase what they said to make sure you have understood their request or question.

9. Carry out their request or give them a time-frame for when you will do it. Reinforce your professionalism by making sure that you complete a task (for instance, making an appointment or checking insurance coverage) and set a reasonable time frame to respond.

When you put these nine essential elements together, you are creating the beginnings of a beautiful relationship between you and your patient. A focus on the dental phone greeting ensures you are given every chance to land that appointment!

I’d like to invite you to attend a free online training session where we look at how to ensure your team is warm and professional on the phone. Sign up here for the complimentary webinar.

Listen to Heather Nottingham and Alex Nottingham JD MBA discuss the importance of an amazing greeting in this podcast:

Heather Nottingham

Heather is a former retail sales specialist and department trainer for Bloomingdale’s, where she had a million dollar clientele. She also took that luxury retail mentality and brought it into the dental world, where she leveraged her training and was able to make an extra million dollars for her dental office in less than 18 months. With over 16 years of retail sales & management experience, 7+ years as a phone skills coach & trainer, and thousands of hours in perfecting the art of rapport with dental patients, Heather helps improve dental practices’ profitability through phone skills success, promoting patient experience, and implementation of systems.

Heather is also an accomplished writer in the world of dentistry, having her articles, press releases, and blogs featured in various publications including Dental Practice Management, Dentistry Today, The Progressive Dentist Magazine, Dentistry IQ, and more.