I’ve phoned a lot of dental practices.
One of the dumbest things I hear when I phone a practice in 2023 is the dental office answering phone message.
Let me begin by saying this:
I believe that all dental offices should have enough staff available and enough phone lines available to ensure that every caller to a dental office gets a live person answering their call.
Sadly, this doesn’t always happen.
I will phone a dental office in the middle of the morning and hear this:
“Thank you for calling XYZ Dental. We’re either on another call, or we’re busy helping a patient, or you’ve phoned outside of our regular business hours. Our regular business hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday. And 8:30am to 12:30pm on Saturdays. Please leave us a message, or alternatively, please call back during regular business hours and we will be more than happy to help you.”
This message fails on so many levels:
Firstly, who at the practice assumes that a single recorded message can cover three or four service failures, and recover from those failures, without any collateral damage?
Firstly, the message says:
“Our dental staff are not skilled enough to answer two phone calls at once.”
Secondly, the message says:
“There aren’t enough staff working at this office, to be able to have someone available to answer the phone whenever it rings.”
Thirdly, the message says:
“At this dental practice, our staff don’t reset the answer service at the start and the end of the day, for people calling outside of working hours…we just have a three-in-one message that covers a bit of everything…”
And fourthly, the message says:
“If you do happen to phone our practice after hours, you get told to call our practice back during business hours, despite the fact that when you do phone during business hours, you could still receive this [first listed] message… [that doesn’t mean to offend, but it actually does a lot of damage]”
Here’s what needs to happen:
- If you want callers to your dental practice to make appointments, you need to make sure that during business hours, their call is always answered by a real live person, who knows what they are doing, knows what they have been hired to do, and delivers an empathetic [live] message to the caller that solves the caller’s problem and gives the caller real hope of receiving that solution.
- Everyone answering the phone at your dental practice should make the caller feel that the person answering has been looking forward to the caller’s call all day, and nothing will ever be a problem.
- All recorded messages at a dental practice should only be played on after hours calls, and should provide solutions for the callers.
An answering phone or a message service is not a safety net.
So many times I hear dental practices [and other businesses] using their answering phone or a message service during business hours as a safety net.
And for some really stupid reason, the business owner is of the belief that all missed calls will go through to the answer service and will all leave a message and a number to phone.
When in reality, nearly every person who calls a dental practice and goes through to a service NEVER LEAVES A MESSAGE, and will become a lost lead even, to that business.
If they are a new patient enquiry, these callers just pick up the phone and dial another dental practice.
It’s a sad truth…
Customer service on your dental office phones is so easy.
If you work in a dental practice, you need to know that your practice NEEDS new patients that require restorative dentistry to replace existing patients of the practice who drift across into hygiene maintenance and who rarely need any more restorative treatment.
And so when the phone rings, we want to jump to attention and assist the caller on how to comfortably make an appointment and become a patient at our practice.
And the best way to do that is have every call answered by a live caring person.
And not let incoming phone calls be flick-passed to an answering machine with a long convoluted message trying to make three to four different excuses at the same time…
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