Dentists spend a lot of money marketing their practices to attract new dental patients. And in spite of the rise of the internet, the vast majority of new patients still use the phone to schedule their first appointment with your practice. That first contact is where new patients are won or lost.
Ideally, you’d appoint every new patient caller. The reality is that not all new patient callers are ready to book an appointment. They may be after more information about your practice. They may be sounding out your staff and what they can expect from their visit. They may be looking for reassurance. But even if those callers aren’t ready in their own minds to be an appointed, a skilled phone answerer can appoint many if not most of them.
Every new patient caller, regardless of their state of readiness to commit, is a potential appointment. Every new caller not appointed the first time is money out of your pocket, and a waste of your marketing dollars.
Where Phone Answerers Go Wrong
There are some naturally gifted people answering the phones in dentists offices. Those people naturally understand how to convey warmth and welcomeness with their greeting, how to deal with objections, how to move the conversation along, and when and how to set the appointment. Those people are pretty rare. Consider yourself fortunate if you have one or more in your practice.
It’s likely that most of your phone answerers do an okay job. They appoint the truly motivated patients, and manage to talk some of the “iffy” prospects into appointment slots. But they’re still leaving money on the table.
Some practices motivate their phone answerers by incentivizing them for new appointments. That’s a double-edged strategy that can pay dividends or backfire, depending on the personality and personal situation of each individual. Confident, comfortable staff will be motivated to appoint more callers. Staff members who really need the commission can wind up seeming pushy and possibly even desperate to callers.
In addition to losing new patients, this is not the impression you want your staff to leave with prospects, who may well talk to other prospects.
Give Your Phone Answerers “Sticky” Fingers
There are any number of phone skills training programs available. These are generally oriented toward general customer service. The programs don’t take into account the special fears, anxieties, and uncertainties of dental patients. And those programs usually don’t provide a mechanism to monitor your phone answerers’ performance on every call
Effective dental practice phone answerers have to be ready to deal with objections on price, availability, pain, embarrassment, and a host of other real or manufactured issues. They have to understand the true motivations behind those objections, deal with them efficiently, and move the call inexorably toward setting an appointment.
Don’t waste money on a generic phone skills training program. In the upcoming months, SmartBox Web Marketing will offer several phone training packages that will turn dentists’ phone answerers into appointing dynamos! Not only that, but the packages will offer our Zetetics® phone tracking system to track the marketing source of each incoming new patient call and record all calls for review by our dedicated Call Quality Analyst team. You’ll know when there’s an issue to be addressed before it becomes a serious problem.
You don’t have to let new patients slip through your phone answerers’ fingers. Watch this blog for future announcements regarding our dentist-specific phone training packages.