As you know we listen to real live phone calls coming in to dental practices.
And you would not believe some of the dumb questions we hear being asked by dental receptionists answering the dental practice phones.
Remember, the purpose of answering the dental practice phone is threefold:
1- You need to become the caller’s friend.
And become their friend quickly.
The caller must identify the fact that you are there to help them as quickly as possible, and that you are on their side.
2. You need to solve their problem.
Every caller to a dental practice has a problem that they are looking to find a solution for.
And your job is to help them find that solution.
You need to assume the role of PROBLEM SOLVER for the caller.
Remember, as Jayne Bandy says:
“They haven’t phoned for a pizza.”
Nobody phones a dental practice because they have a spare thirty minutes to kill.
Every caller to a dental practice has a dental problem , that they want you to solve.
3. You need to give the caller hope.
The caller needs to feel that they have called the right place, and that your dental practice will solve their dental problem.
They need to feel that when they hang up that phone, that they are so looking forward to coming to your dental practice to meet you, and they are actually hoping that there may be a change in your dental schedule, and that you are going to phone them and bring their appointment forward.
So here are some of the things that I’ve been hearing on the dental office phones, that need to be eliminated.
With the above three points in mind, the only information we really need to be collecting from new patients calling our practice is their name, their best phone number, and their email address.
Other than these three things, we don’t need to turn the new patient phone enquiry call from being a PROBLEM SOLVING EXPERIENCE into a data collecting phone call.
Yet that’s what I often hear.
There’s plenty of time to do data collection before the new patient attends our practice, either by mail, or by virtual means.
Or we could simply ask the new patient to come to our practice seventeen minutes early so that we can show them around our office and go through any documentation.
Turning a new patient phone enquiry from being a solution of the caller’s problem into a bland Q&A data collection call kind of pours cold water over the warm caring experience that we want that caller to feel when the call has ended.
So here are some of the things that I hear…
“Is that Mrs? Miss? Or Ms?”
What the heck does the marital status of the female caller have to do with their making of an appointment?
Do we say:
“Oh I’m sorry. Dr Brown, she only sees married patients on Wednesdays. You’re a Ms. You’ll have to wait until Thursday.”
Of course we don’t.
So if it doesn’t matter to the appointment, then why ask it?
How about D.O.B.?
Apart from the fact that the manner that I hear people asking the date of birth question is usually so very impersonal, the actual date that a person is born rarely has any relevance to the scheduling of dental appointments, does it?
I’ve heard dental receptionists just fire out the date of birth question like a machine gun:
“DATE OF BIRTH!?”
A little bit too matters of fact, in my opinion.
I’d prefer to hear it being asked more courteously:
“Could I have your date of birth please?”
But in reality, I really don’t see why are we asking this question at all on a New Patient Enquiry Call?
Do we then say:
“Oh I’m sorry. Dr Brown, she only sees baby boomers on Wednesdays. You’re a senior. You’ll have to wait until Friday.”
“Oh I’m sorry. Dr Brown, she doesn’t see Sagittarians on Thursdays. You’ll have to wait until Monday. Monday is the day she sees Sagittarians.”
Of course we don’t.
So why are we wasting breath asking it on the caller’s first point of connection with our office?
Which side is the sore tooth on?
Again, does this really matter?
Do we say:
“Oh I’m sorry. Dr Brown, she doesn’t treat left side teeth on Mondays and Tuesdays. You’ll have to wait until Wednesday.”
Of course we don’t. It doesn’t matter to Dr Brown which side the sore tooth is on. She’s going to fix the tooth regardless…
So there’s really no need to ask the caller this question, or any other questions that take away from the three key purposes we need to perform when answering the dental office phone.
And that is:
- Be their friend
- Solve their problem
- Give them hope
When we consider the purpose of answering the phone, and when we consider the desired outcome that we are wanting to achieve from each and every new patient enquiry call, then we need to ensure that every word we utter is because we are attempting to fulfil those three essential requirements each and every time.
Our questions need to be purposeful, and not dumb.
The thing is….
The thing is, that while we drag on a new patient phone call asking dumb questions that are better asked at another time, in reality we really should have finished up with that call. Instead of wasting time asking dumb questions, we really should be answering other incoming calls into the dental office, and be spending time helping those other new patient enquiries with their concerns and problems….
Dr. David Moffet BDS FPFA CSP is a certified CX Experience coach. David works with his wife Jayne Bandy to help SME businesses improve their Customer Service Systems to create memorable World Class experiences for their valued clients and customers. Click here to find out how David and Jayne can help your business