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Your most important piece of technology—the phone


Key Takeaways

  • The most important tool for client communication is the phone

  • It’s crucial to train your front office staff on how to answer phone calls

  • The ultimate goal is to get the person on the other line to schedule an appointment


In today’s world, there are many ways we interact with guests. It’s not uncommon for practices to interact with their guests via text message for appointment reminders and confirmations, and of course, there are email communications. However, when it comes down to it, the most important piece of technology in your office is the phone.


How guests reach you


When people need to find a dentist in their area, they typically go to Google to begin their search unless they’ve been referred somewhere or heard about a practice by word of mouth. Once they decide which practice they’re interested in, that’s when they make the phone call. Of course, some practices offer online appointment scheduling, but this newer development will take people time to adjust.


As of now, people largely book their appointments by calling the office. Because the phone is still the primary communication tool, how your team answers and handles phone calls is critical. Most of the calls received at a dental practice are from new or existing guests. Whatever the case, front office staff must handle each call properly to ensure the best guest experience.


The call


A good call with a guest takes some customer service skills. The goal is to be as friendly, informative, and helpful as possible so you can help take care of the guests’ needs. Here are a few simple tips for answering the phone:


Your front office staff should always be trained to answer the phones and understand what it takes to provide good customer service over the phone. If you don’t currently have any training, it’s a good idea to put something together for your team.


The greeting


The most critical part is the greeting and the first 20 seconds of the phone call. Your front office staff needs to answer the phone with a welcoming voice. If they sound unenthusiastic, it gives people the wrong impression. Remember, the goal is always to provide the best experience, whether the guest is in front of you or on the phone.


If, for some reason, your staff are with other guests and need to put someone on hold, they need to ask politely if it’s okay to do so. Nothing says bad customer service like “Thanks for calling Big Smiles Dentistry, please hold” CLICK! You want the person on the other line to feel like their call is welcome and that they will be taken care of.


It’s essential to take down their name and number right away. Also, your schedulers should always be prepared and know when the next available appointments are.


It may seem obvious, but your schedulers should never chew gum or eat while on the phone with new or existing guests. They need to give their undivided attention.


The rest of the call


People call for several reasons. Some call knowing they want to schedule an appointment, while others call asking about the cost of services. The ultimate goal is to get the person on the other line to schedule an appointment, so schedulers need to control the flow of the conversation.


If a potential new guest calls inquiring about the cost of services, the goal should still be to get them in the office. Depending on the service, it’s typically difficult to quote someone a price over the phone without a doctor looking at their mouth first.


It’s a good idea to train your staff on what to say in these instances. For example, if someone calls asking about the price of a crown, your team can respond by saying,


“We can’t determine the cost of treatment over the phone, as many variables can impact the price. We would love to schedule a consultation for you to be seen by one of our doctors so we can determine a treatment plan and price for you.”


The same can be said for a procedure as simple as a cleaning. Yes, you can give the cost of a simple cleaning over the phone. However, what if that guest needs updated X Rays or SRPs? It’s essential to help the caller understand that there are too many unpredictable variables to provide costs over the phone.


Once a guest is seen in person, you can create a treatment plan and FA. Otherwise, you might quote someone an incorrect cost which leads to an upset guest.


Remember your goal


The ultimate goal of the phone call is to get the person on the other end of the line to schedule an appointment. You must equip your front office staff with every tool they need for success. They are the connection between you and potential guests. Besides that, good customer service over the phone is an extension of the service you provide to your guests. It’s important to always put your best foot forward.


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