Recently, I have seen a great number of companies jumping on the “dental phone training” bandwagon. There are marketing companies, practice management software companies, and others posting blogs, writing articles, and even offering downloads of magical dental phone scripts and “fool-proof” formulas for training your team on phone skills.
So, why is this a problem?
Answering the phone and booking appointments is easy, right?
Training your team in phone skills is easy enough, right? And, anyway, how important is it that your team answers the phone professionally?
If you didn’t already guess, working with callers on the phone is the critical first interaction your potential patient will have with your dental practice.
It’s all about the patient
Indeed, imagine showing up to a first date with lettuce in your teeth. You can start to see how badly the evening may go. Your team answering the phone acts as a gateway representative for your whole office, so it is important that their teeth are lettuce free, so to speak.
To the uninformed caller, it doesn’t matter if the dentist has multiple degrees and certificates reflecting their accomplishments. It doesn’t mean a thing if the dentist sits on the board of well-known organizations or that they write articles in magazines or lecture around the world.
The team member answering the phone had better be able to help the caller understand how each of those accomplishments (enthusiastically expressed by the team member with a smile in their voice) can make the caller’s appointment the best it can be. Otherwise, the game is over with that caller. Even if the patient books an appointment, without an important connection with the patient (“rapport”), they will most likely cancel, no-show, or come in with a humdrum attitude about your practice that will hinder case acceptance.
This is why it’s imperative to choose a training program that is expert in equipping your team with these vital skills and not a company that happens to teach it as a side gig to their main business. You know what I mean… would you rather get your open-heart surgery from someone who is a general surgeon and occasionally does a special procedure on the side, or would you prefer to see an expert who specializes in your procedure? It’s an extreme example, but it’s the case in all kinds of industries. Take music… who is going to be better to teach you if you have aspirations to be a professional pianist? An amateur who dabbles with a range of instruments, or a professional teacher who focuses solely on piano? If you are smart, you would choose the expert!
Now back to those “other companies” we talked about before. How much do you think a marketing or software company knows about answering the phones in the dental office? Yes, many of them listen to call recordings so they may have a some insight on how well (or poorly) team members are performing, but that is where it ends.
Most of these “trainers” have never worked in a dental office or answered a dental office phone (let alone juggled multiple lines while checking patients in and out). Most of them do not have time-tested methods or specific systems for properly training your team on the best way to work with callers. They don’t emphasize techniques to not just convert callers to new patients, but to do so by using rapport and an emphasis on service and value. That rapport ensures the patient shows up for their appointment excited to work with your office, accepts treatment, and remains a lifelong patient while referring friends and family!
“Do’s and Don’ts”
Here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” when choosing a dental phone training program:
- Don’t do training that is “salesy.” That is a surefire way to send your potential patients running for the hills (or at least to Yelp to write nasty reviews). If a training company promises to turn your team into a “factory” for new patients or talks about how much money your team will be making you, run away.
- Do focus on customer-service-based training that your team members will feel good about and be excited to learn. This will facilitate lifelong patients for your practice and great reviews. Plus, you will see fewer turnovers from staff.
- Don’t use training that depends on call scripts. If someone promises you they have the perfect script to convert new patients, be wary. People are not robots and unless you want your team to sound like they are, avoid scripts at all costs. Words account for only 7% of what people communicate in a conversation. The more important aspects are human qualities such as the sound of your voice and the interaction with the person on the other end of the line – things a script cannot duplicate, and those trainers can’t teach.
- Do focus on using a system or process to guide team members who work with callers so there is consistency among all calls. Team members, though, should be encouraged to have their own personality shine through in the calls. A call system should provide verbiage suggestions and best practices for them to use. This will make for a much happier team than relying on scripts (which tend to “de-humanize” team members) and much happier patients.
- Don’t work with a company that does phone skills training as a side-gig to what they actually do such as marketing or software.
- Do work with a company that focuses specifically on dental phone training. Make sure they have an excellent reputation for training teams to work confidently and successfully with callers.
Get more details on how All-Star Dental Academy’s Phone Success training program can supercharge your phones by visiting our Services page. Alternatively, you can learn about how front office performance on the phones can lead to success: register for our free educational webinar Dental Practice Excellence: 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice. Finally, you can call our office at (844) 631.7575 to speak with an All-Star representative about our Training Program.
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.