In dentistry, opportunity doesn’t come knocking. It picks up the phone.
But when you hear that ringing, and a new patient might be on the other end, are you prepared?
It may seem like a common sense process to schedule a new patient, but most of the time that “simple” procedure gets botched, and the opportunity is lost forever.
Take a look through the steps below to make sure your team isn’t making any obvious mistakes and chasing away valuable new patients.
This might sound like a no-brainer, but incoming calls should be picked up as quickly as possible. More than 80% of your callers who get bounced to voicemail are guaranteed to hang up (and probably call another dentist). If it’s taking more than three rings for someone on your team to answer, then you should re-evaluate your telephone policy to be sure the phones are covered and answered right away, even during busy times and lunch breaks.
Anyone who is given the responsibility of answering calls should be properly trained to do so. Calls that are mishandled by inexperienced team members can create a terrible first impression, so make sure they know what they’re doing.
Before you even say hello, remember to put your smile on. Callers may not be able to actually see you smiling, but, believe it or not, they can hear it in your voice. Building friendly rapport can set a positive tone for the call and a favorable opinion toward your office.
Try to get to the purpose of the call quickly so you can focus on providing the solution the caller is looking for. Know what questions to ask and what your responses should be (even script them out if it helps).
Do make sure to collect the caller’s name and phone number early in the conversation in case you are disconnected, and also to follow up with them if you don’t get an appointment from the initial call.
It is surprising how many inbound calls to dental offices don’t result in a scheduled appointment. It’s even more surprising why — because the office team member answering the phone never even brings it up. Have the scheduling screen up and ready to go for every inbound call, and don’t end the conversation without offering an appointment. Minimize the number of options you provide to simplify their decision making. (“Is Tuesday or Wednesday better?” or “We have 9:30 and 1:00 available that day. Which would you prefer?”)
If you don’t get an appointment from your first conversation, make sure the lead is properly captured in your marketing pipeline. Then you can follow up according to the nature of their initial inquiry. If they are someone who is likely looking for an appointment in the near future, your follow up might include phone calls, text messages, and email drips. Someone who is more of a long-term prospect might instead go into a lead nurturing email campaign to keep them engaged until they are ready to make a decision about coming to your office.
It’s important to use call tracking software so you can keep tabs on the volume of calls you are receiving and your conversion percentage. It’s also useful to listen to recordings of your office’s inbound phone conversations so you can identify where you are losing new patient leads and how you can improve your team’s appointment setting skills.
Of course you can’t convert your new patient leads until you generate new patient leads. And that starts with effective landing pages with great promotional offers that will get people into your marketing funnel. Download our FREE Dental Promotional Offer Idea Guide to find the best incentives for your dental practice that will get those new patient leads pouring in.