At All-Star Dental Academy, we have very specific processes and verbiage for Banishing Broken Appointments and Cancellations, even with respect to friends or family that cancel appointments. One of our dentists recently asked us a question on how to address patients who are friends or family members and frequently cancel their appointments.

Doctor’s Question – Handling Friends or Family that Cancel Appointments:

“What do you do when you have people you know on a social level (friends or even family) who take advantage of the personal relationship and cancel appointments on a whim? Then when you do not want to reschedule them, because of their rampant cancellations, they use the friendship as a bartering tool or crutch.”

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Our Head Instructor, Larry Guzzardo, answered this question:  Very simply, all patients are treated the same way regardless of their relationship with the doctor. Some patients require extra effort. However, patients only act the way they do because they think it is okay. Friends and family need to have the Broken Appointment/Canceled Appointment (BA/CA) policy explained to them just like any other patient. Often, because of the close relationship, these patients need some additional explanation. Try using this verbiage after a broken or changed appointment incident: “We didn’t say something sooner and we should have…”

The bottom line is, all patients, regardless of their status (friend, family member, etc.) should have a clear understanding of office policies from the beginning.  Often we try to be nice and it just ends up backfiring.  People only treat you the way you expect to be treated.  That doesn’t mean we are rude or disrespectful to patients.  It just means that we are kind and firm.

The most important aspect of having this all work is that the dentist/owner/leader needs to be on board with the policies and not have any breaks in the chain.  If the patient hears one thing from the staff and then they go to the dentist and hear something different, the patient is only going to learn to not honor what the staff says.

At All-Star, we teach a systematic approach to phone verbiage and scheduling practices, including having a consistent experience from everyone on the team.

If you do not know how to train your 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 designed 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.

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

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

Finally, you are invited to attend a free training webinar: Dental Practice Excellence, where we examine some of the weaknesses in the way dental practices are run, and how to overcome them.

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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.