We all know how frustrating it is to have canceled, broken appointments, or no-shows on your schedule.
From speaking with hundreds of dentists and team members each year, we know that cancellations are one of the biggest, if not the biggest, issues practices face.
No-shows are not only a drag on revenue and productivity, they create a huge amount of stress in the office for the dentist and the team. I have worked in an administrative role in a dental practice and know firsthand how annoying it is to have a full schedule but then need to scramble to fill in last-minute holes.
To soothe my own aggravations from no-shows, I created a three-step process to address the issue. Front-office teams can use the process when scheduling an appointment to ensure that more patients will show up. I call this process the Confirmation Triad™.
A GREAT Call?
At All-Star, we teach the GREAT Call® Process that includes five steps to maximize the chances that every caller will schedule an appointment. The GREAT Call® Process uses rapport-building techniques and emphasizes the value of a patient’s appointment, and highlights what sets your practice apart from the competition. By listening carefully to the prospective new patient, you establish the practice as the best choice to become and remain a patient for years.
In the GREAT Call®, GREAT is an acronym for Greeting, Rapport, Engage, Ask, and Take Info. This article will focus on the “A” part of GREAT, which is Ask (for the Appointment).
The Confirmation Triad™ is used at the GREAT Call® Process point where you have built enough rapport with the patient, have a strong understanding of their needs, and feel confident in asking them to make an appointment.
Breaking it Down:
Here are the elements of the Confirmation Triad™, whether you are scheduling their appointment over the phone or in the office:
1. Create Urgency – Ensure the patient knows how popular your practice is and why it’s so important for them to keep their visit. If you give the impression that your office is the best practice in town and that you are always booked up, the patient will not be as likely to cancel or put off their dental treatment.
2. Set Expectations – Go over exactly what will happen during their visit with the dentist, hygienist, etc., to paint a vivid picture in their minds. Don’t discuss anything that could scare the patient, and importantly, give them an idea of how great they will FEEL coming to your practice. If they have fears or concerns, reassure them they will feel comfortable and taken care of.
3. Get a Commitment – Did the caller make an appointment? If so, get a commitment that they will show up. Did you know that when people give a verbal commitment to something, it increases their likelihood of sticking to it? All you have to do is ask, “Do I have your word that you will keep this appointment and that you will provide us more than 48 hour’s notice for any changes?” Wait for their affirmation and the word “Yes.” If their reply is weaker, using words such as “I will try,” or “I’ll do my best,” etc., this may be a situation where you return to building urgency and really emphasize how important their visit is to their health and how tough it may be for them to be seen if appointment changes are made. You can also note their status as unsure and have another patient on standby for their spot if you don’t think the first person will show up.
An Overriding Factor:
Of course, the biggest factor that is so vital that I didn’t include it in the three steps and supersedes all the Confirmation Triad’s™ other rules is Rapport. Rapport is your connection to the other person and is what will make or break your show-up rate.
Think of a great friend or family member you love. If you are looking forward to seeing them, you would not dare cancel or no-show unless it was a dire emergency. If you have a great rapport with your patients, you will surely increase the likelihood that they like you, enjoy coming to the practice, and will not break their appointment.
So be sure, above all, to build lots of rapport with your patients, make friendly conversation, and have them look forward to coming to their visits every time!
Download our FREE eBook – Dental Practice Excellence – 3 Steps to an All-Star Practice. We explore how minor changes in your approach to training on phone skills and scheduling, and the positive impact training has on your employees will help you take your practice productivity to pre-pandemic levels.