We listen to a lot of dental practice phone call recordings.

Often the caller will ask the receptionist a question that the receptionist does not know the answer to.

Here’s what we hear when that happens:

1- Default to “You need to come in for a consultation”

This response often is a safety net used by the receptionist who has no idea of the correct answer they need to provide to the question being asked.

Sometimes, the answer needed is really a clarification for the caller rather than a detailed description.

If the practice defaults to a consultation in this situation it can frustrate the caller because it can appear to be wasting the caller’s time [having to come to an appointment] when the answer is actually available… its just that the receptionist needs to be able to access the required solution quickly and not default to the “consultation”.

2- The answer to the question is actually on the dental practice website….

Sometimes the question being asked of the receptionist is a clarification about something that the caller has read on the dental practice website, and they are looking for clarification or confirmation of this fact.

What is often disappointing is that treatment options and modalities that the practice offers [that are mentioned on the practice website] are not known by the person answering the phone, so the caller feels that they [the caller] are actually more knowledgeable than the person taking their call.

This should never happen.

Everybody empowered to answer the dental practice phone should know exactly what is listed on the practice website and be able to help every caller who asks about those treatments.

Ignorance is not an excuse for poor product knowledge and for this form of customer service fail being delivered.

Every business need to make sure that all staff dealing with customers needs to know their product knowledge.

3- Verbal diarrhea, vomiting information, and lecturing

Often the caller only wants to know that they have called the right place, and that your dental practice is kind, and can definitely help them….

The caller doesn’t need a ten minute lecture on the detailed procedural steps of drilling a tooth for a crown, along with gingival retraction and with the chemical composition of composite resin…

Yet sometimes that’s what we hear… an OVERSHARING of technical jargon that only puts the caller to sleep, or scares the caller.… and is rarely asked for, if ever.

The caller doesn’t care how much you know.

The caller needs to know how much you care.

4- Refer to a higher authority

Sometimes all that needs to be said to the caller is this:

“Mrs Smith, the best person here that can help you is Jodie. She’s just with another patient at the moment, is it OK if I have her call you back in 15 minutes when she’s finished, and she’ll be able to answer all your questions? Is that OK?”

If it’s just a short answer that you need to find out, and the person who has that answer is sitting right beside the team member answering the call, then it’s OK to ask the caller to hold for a moment, get the answer from the person nearby, and then go straight back to the caller.

Our role is to help. And to problem solve.


Interestingly, these areas of difficulty rarely arise on a dental office phone if the dental receptionist follows the Checklist of steps in order as outlined in Jayne Bandy’s Eight Steps Of The New Patient Phone Call…. You can download your free copy of the Checklist here.

This is because the process of taking a phone enquiry in your dental practice needs to be like a recipe, with the correct steps being followed in a specific order that achieves the desired outcome.

Every phone call coming in to a dental practice needs to be considered as an opportunity to solve the caller’s problem, and to give the caller the hope and surety that they have called the right place, and that we are here to help them.

When dental receptionists are trained well, and have clarity and confidence in their processes, they will be able to schedule nearly all callers into a confirmed appointment that is anticipated, and is kept.

Our goal with every phone call is that we need to be a friend, and we are here to help.


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