Although a potential patient may discover your practice through the internet or personal contact, most prospective patients will get in touch with your dental office on the phone. Your receptionist will have to manage the appointments of existing patients through the phone as well. This means the way your front desk receptionist communicates on the phone will profoundly impact your practice’s success, so you can understand how important dental office phone training is.
From managing patient flow – both greeting a patient and checking them out – to sending an occasional email, your receptionist will likely be handling other administrative tasks as well as the phones. This juggling act can be quite tricky. That said, there are several concrete steps that can be taken to significantly improve a dental receptionist’s phone skills.
Here’s a handful of tips to help your front office staff make the most out of every phone call:
1. Take notes
Relying on your memory is the easiest way to lose important information. Dental office phone training for your receptionist should include building a habit of taking notes on every patient call. He or she must take down important details from patients, the reason for their call, and the next expected steps. And don’t forget that one of the receptionist’s core goals is to forge a strong connection with the patient. One of the easiest ways of doing that is to repeat their name while conversing with them.
2. Answer the Phone Quickly
With multiple responsibilities, the dental receptionist’s day can be pretty hectic. However, answering the phone must be kept at the top of the list. Ideally, the receptionist should endeavor to answer the phone by the third ring. If the receptionist is assisting with another task, she should politely excuse herself to take the call. Note the caller’s name and politely ask for their permission to call back once free.
3. Become a Good Listener
We hear this all the time but we rarely apply this fundamental principle of communication. With all the distractions competing for our attention, we can easily come across as poor listeners, or even rude. If patients have to repeat themselves, they will know in an instant that the receptionist isn’t attentive. So when the phone rings, the receptionist must put all other tasks “on hold” and give their entire attention to what the patient is saying. Not only does it leave a great impression but it makes the practice’s job a lot easier because the receptionist hasn’t missed any important details.
4. Show Genuine Interest
The easiest way to lose new patients is to put them on hold when they call in. Quite a lot of practices are guilty of this. Asking relevant questions about the purpose of the patient’s call goes a long way in cementing the relationship. From the initial greeting to answering patient questions, there should be a predefined greeting or salutation your dental receptionist uses when answering incoming calls. This ensures every call is started off with the right tone. And always smile while talking on the phone – you will be surprised at how much of an improvement this simple act can make in your dental receptionist’s tone.
5. Invite the Patient to Schedule
According to research, very few dental receptionists actively invite the patient to come in for an appointment. The underlying assumption is that since the patient is calling, they will automatically make an appointment with your office. However, that is not the case and the receptionist must ask patients to come in. Even if they aren’t yet ready to commit to treatment, asking them to come in and see the facility will help remove their doubts thereby giving the practice a chance to add new patients.
So there you go, an actionable plan to take your dental receptionist’s phone skills to the next level. I’d like to invite you to attend a no-cost online training event, Dental Practice Excellence, where we examine three fundamental issues – training your receptionist to work more effectively with prospective patients on the phone, techniques to reduce or eliminate broken appointments, and strategies for ensuring your team is engaged and working to their potential. And you can always give us a call at 954 323 2220 to talk about how we can specifically help your practice achieve success.