The average dental practice in America misses 20% of their new patient inbound calls. Of those calls that are answered, less than half are converted into new patient appointments. Although missing calls could be due to a staffing problem, with an intuitive phone system, this number could be improved. The question still remains, why are less than half of dental office calls not converting into new patient appointments?
The reason behind this lies in the way your dental team members communicate with patients and the amount of missed opportunities. With tools and practices like Call Pop, digital forms, and online scheduling you can start to create better interactions in and out of the office. What about when patients call your office? A simple way to convert more phone calls into new patient appointments and improve patient interactions is through dental office telephone scripts.
Benefits to preparing call scripts
Telephone call scripts are not a new practice and have been used in sales and business management since cold-calling began. Today, small practices are using telephone scripts to make their phone calls more efficient with their patients and deliver a better experience.
Increases Efficiency & Saves Time
Every business wants to be efficient. This is especially true for a small practice with a limited number of employees to assist with day-to-day operations. Efficiency is also the name of the game when it comes to earning more money and increasing sales. When your front-desk workers have a dental office telephone call script prepared ahead of time, it builds their confidence and lets them take control of the conversation.
Nobody can plan for every response and situation they encounter on the phone, but having a script to go off of will save time and help control the phone call. Imagine saving a minute or more on each call and multiplying that by each phone call during the week. That time savings is valuable for any business but is amplified for a small dental practice with limited employees. If your team can free up more time during the week, that means other tasks that have been put on the back burner can now be given attention during the week.
Improves the Patient Experience
The feedback and overall opinion of your patients will directly predict how successful you are as a provider. Dental office telephone scripts will give your patients convenience and efficiency during their phone calls. If you can make your patients happy, they are more likely to come back and refer their friends.
Using a telephone script, you can navigate the conversation and give patients what they need in a timely manner. For dental practices looking for more, you can invest in software that can track call analytics and show you when call-time is highest as well as missed calls and voicemails. These tools improve the patient experience even further and keep your patients happy. Check out this blog for a comprehensive list of the best dental practice management software.
Keeps Schedules Full
Although a full schedule means your practice sees more patients, sales, and growth. If a new patient walks in and sees a full office, they might think that the quality of service you provide is better than the competition and is worth waiting for. Keeping a full schedule also helps your dental practice become more efficient because you are seeing more patients per day and maximizing the work your team does during the day. To learn some simple strategies to keep schedules full, click here.
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Best Practices and tips for phone scripts
Personalize your interactions
According to Weave’s podcast, The Happy Practice Playbook, “80% of respondents in a study indicated that they are more likely to do business with a company that offered personalized experiences and 90% indicated that they find personalization appealing”. It’s clear from this insight that patients want to have personalized interactions with your practice and that starts with the way you address them. One way to personalize your phone calls and make a dental office telephone script less robotic is to address patients by their names.
To do this, your dental practice needs to keep track of patients who call and then recall that data when they call back. Weave offers a tool called Call Pop that is designed to do this very thing and will help your patients feel that personalized touch every time they call. Call Pop also works so patients don’t have to repeat their information every time they call and your conversations can be a step ahead.
Keep it Brief
After your greeting, manage the flow of the conversation by keeping responses and dialogue pertinent to the ultimate goal. If the person calling in wants to schedule an appointment, don’t ask them questions that don’t pertain to getting them scheduled.
If you need to confirm insurance with them before making an appointment do so in a timely way. Your practice should use insurance verification software to speed this process along and make it easier for both parties. The right software will keep the information in one central program so you don’t have to access a different system to verify.
Mention the next steps & Wrap up the call
After scheduling the appointment, confirm the scheduled day and mention any details that would help them prepare for the appointment. Wrap up the call by asking the patient if they have any additional questions or concerns. Thank them for choosing your dental practice and give a friendly goodbye.
Scripts for each Situation
Every phone call with a patient varies and will require a different dental office phone script depending on the situation. This is also important when training new hires because you can teach them from the same script as the rest of the team and they can start to learn the call types.
Begin by breaking down the types of calls your dental practice receives during the week and make a note of them. Write down what the caller wants and what questions they ask. Organize this data and start to write down how these conversations will typically flow, accounting for possible positive and negative answers. Once you have your scripts ready to go, train each person who handles phone calls and help them feel comfortable going through the conversation.
Pickup & Greeting
This is a basic part of every script and should be friendly, without sounding robotic or rehearsed. The greeting can go different ways depending on how much information you know about the person when they call in. Using Call Pop, you can know basic information ahead of time so you can greet them with a personal touch. Here is an example of a basic greeting:
“Thank you for calling __(practice name)__, my name is ______.
- Phone number recognized: I see you’re calling in from a phone number we have on file. Am I speaking with ______?”
- If yes: “Thank you ___(patient name)___, how can I help you today?”
- If no: “No problem, how can I help you today?”
- Phone number not recognized: “Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today?”
- “Great! How can I help you?”
Your patients aren’t just another data point or drop in the bucket, but real people with real dental concerns. Every time you answer the phone, it presents a new opportunity to begin a potential relationship with a patient.
New patients represent a large chunk of the calls you get during the day. New patients might be calling to book an appointment, inquire about your hours of operation/location, or ask about the cost of your services.
Even if a patient is only calling in to check your hours of operation, it can be gathered that they are looking to visit the dentist sometime soon. You can ask them if they have ever visited your practice or if they would like to make an appointment. You might be surprised how many new patients you can schedule when you ask the right questions.
When it comes to dental care, affordability is a common concern and there are many options for patients to choose from. The ultimate goal when handling a price shopper is for them to get in front of the dentist so they can see your practice, meet your team and hear what service they need from the dentist. Here are some tips for handling these types of calls:
- Before you go over the price, ask them if you can grab some basic information.
- Go over the service they are asking about and what it would entail. Train your staff to be knowledgeable about dental services so they can explain what that specific service would consist of.
- Give them a cost range and explain why the price can vary.
- Remind them that it’s always better if the dentist can see their teeth in person so he/she can give them an accurate evaluation.
- Encourage them to come in for a free consultation so they can speak with the dentist and get an idea of what the cost will be.
When handled correctly, price-shopping patients can offer an incredible opportunity to book appointments and build your patient base.
Another type of call you will receive is patients calling and asking to book, modify, or cancel their appointment. Here are the different types of appointment calls and how you can handle them:
Maybe a patient is calling in to book an appointment or ask if you have availability for a specific day/time. Give the caller options for when they can book or ask them what day works best for them. Try and work with the caller and find a time that works for both parties. If nothing else, offer to put them on a backup list if you have a cancellation.
A patient could call in to confirm their appointment. Patient management software is a game-changer for dental practices because it offers appointment confirmations and reminders via text. You can automate text messages to go out to your patients and help them stay on top of their appointments. According to a recent survey, Weave found that 73% of dental patients prefer appointment reminders via text.
Is a patient calling in because they missed their appointment? Let the patient know that these things happen and you can get them back on the schedule. Appointment reminders via text are a great way to remind patients in a casual way and it doesn’t require much effort.
Recall for retaining patients
Recall visits are regularly-scheduled checkup appointments to give dentists ongoing knowledge of the status of their patients. These visits are vital to both practice and patient and the more times a dentist can visit a patient, the better care they can provide.
These visits are also opportunities to build loyalty with a patient and encourage them to come back. Recall visits also allow your practice to keep a steady flow of patients and keep schedules full. Parts of a dental recall system can include text and email reminders as well as regular check-ups via phone calls. You can read more information and see examples of dental recall scripts here.
The success of your practice hinges on the relationships you nurture with your patients. Every phone call is an opportunity for a new patient and a chance to grow your practice. Weave helps small dental practices with tools to automate and simplify communication all on one platform. If you’re curious about how Weave can help you manage your practice, book a free demo and see for yourself.