Dental Front Office Team: How do patients FEEL when they call your dental office?

First, I want to tell you how Patients should feel when they speak with your dental front office team. They should feel welcomed, cared-for, and heard. They should feel like they are calling a friend, or just made a new one. They should feel sure that your office cares about them and that the doctor is the best and does exactly what the patient wants or needs. They should feel that they are making an excellent choice and have confidence in their decision to give your office their business.

However, many clinicians and dental front office team would not necessarily state this as their mission when answering the phone. The general objectives are often simply to be “professional” or “competent,” or often, to “educate.” Worse, some practices have no specific intention at all. Even more catastrophic, is when the objective is to get a caller to make an appointment at any cost, as quickly as possible.

Think about your dental front office team for a moment.

Have you ever given them specific direction about how you want patients to feel when they call your office? If so, have you listened to see if the calls in your office are achieving that objective? Sadly, I find that despite good intentions most offices are not good at making patients feel special. It takes more than “being nice” to build meaningful rapport with callers. What it takes is turning your current phone call process on its head.

Let’s break this down a bit. Why do we care how patients feel? Furthermore, how do we answer the phone to get the BEST results?

The answer to the first question is more important than you might imagine. Of course as humans, we want people to feel good about their interactions with us. But do you realize the impact building rapport with patients has on your practice? The process begins before your patients even meet you and your staff; it starts on the phone.

Many doctors focus on the patient experience and case presentation for their time with the patient but don’t give appropriate weight to the critical role played by their dental front office team. If your patients feel connected to a person on the phone, they are far more likely to show up and to trust and like you. Conversely, if they feel no connection, or don’t like the person on the phone, they are more likely to fail in honoring their appointment. Worse, they may resist treatment until they feel more connected.

Another thing to consider is that I often hear dentists say that their dental front office team member who answers the phone is “pretty good.” However, should you be satisfied with your business success hinging on “pretty good” performance? Is that how you market your clinical skills? The phones are the lifeblood of the practice, and you absolutely need an “all-star” building rapport with patients.

Your dental front office team has the power to create great patients, and they also have the power to destroy opportunities.

So how do we do things differently?

First, your team must understand the “why” and change the entire intention of the new patient phone call (and patient calls in general). Their mission needs to be less about collecting insurance information and more about understanding the patient’s wants and needs. They should be empowered in how they can bring in new patients so that the first appointment meets the patient’s requirements, not just filling an open spot in the schedule. You need to make rapport-building the primary goal of each call, followed by providing assurance that you understand the patient’s needs, and they have called exactly the right office. The dental front office team need training and feedback, and to be held accountable for their results. Consider recording your calls, and if you already record calls listen to them.

If you do not know how to train your dental front office teams in this skillset, or don’t have the time, consider an outside consultant or training program. All-Star Dental Academy offers a unique online training program specifically for customer-service-based phone and scheduling training and is great as a self-learning program. It can also be paired with coaching services to enhance practical implementation and facilitate mastery of new skills.

If you are spending your hard earned money on marketing your practice for growth, please don’t waste another penny until you are certain your phones are representing your practice and building patient relationships.

If you are unsure about the skill of your dental front office team, please contact us for a free phone skills consultation.

Or, visit this free webinar: Dental Practice Excellence


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"The five-star reviews are rolling in and the phones are ringing off the hook!" - Dr. Jennifer Wayer

1. Get QUALITY patients without selling

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3. Reduce turnover by 25%

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