How Patients Want You to Answer the Phone in the Dental Office

This week’s guest blog is by dental consultant Dr. Mayer Levitt of Jodena Consulting. A former dentist himself, Mayer has helped tons of dental practices to achieve better profits, retention, and publicity since 1989. In this blog, he discusses some ideas for phone etiquette in the dental office. You can learn more ways to improve your practice by subscribing to Mayer’s blog.

When a potential patient calls your office, they have specific questions. Do you take their insurance? Are you accepting new patients? Does the doctor offer veneers? That potential patient expects you to answer questions quickly, fully, and with a friendly attitude. Try your very best never to say “no” or “I don’t know.” Memorize this line… “The best way that I can help you is…”

For instance: “The best way that I can help you is to check with our insurance coordinator and get back to you promptly.” Or: “The best way that I can help you is to speak with the doctor and return your call later today.”

Also, listen intently to the caller’s requests and comments. You might even make listening noises so that the patient knows you are engaged: “Tell me more,” or “uh –huh,” or “certainly.”

Always, always, always welcome customer complaints. Research tells us that if you can resolve a customer’s problem quickly and courteously, that patient will continue to do business with you and continue to refer patients. Never feel personally attacked or become confrontational. The patient is always right!

Quick Tips for Answering the Phone

  1. Say, “Thanks for calling Dr. Levitt’s office. This is Susan.” Saying it with an upbeat inflection sends the message you sincerely want to help the caller. The last word the caller should hear is your name.
  2. Smile! How you look on the telephone is how you sound on the telephone. Put a mirror on your desk and take a quick peek at yourself before you pick up the phone.
  3. Refer to the caller by name. You may have to request the name before you can do this. Using a person’s name sounds friendly, and if people like you, they’ll be more likely to do business with you. British Airways and Westin Hotels conducted a survey that tells us that bookings dramatically increased when a potential customer was referred to by name three to four times in a conversation.

Now I want to zero in on the person who answers the phone in your office. If that person isn’t reading this blog, go get them right now. Dear phone answerer, Your Job is Extremely Important! Your Job is Extremely Important.

You may not be improving oral health and changing lives with smile makeovers, but Your Job is Extremely Important. The telephone in a dental office is the conduit for patients to enter the practice. It is the first unavoidable step in the key process of relationship building.

Each new patient has an enormous lifetime dollar value– both from direct dental treatment and referrals. If potential patients do not like the way their first call is handled, you can lose them for good. Don’t let it happen to you!

Each new patient has an enormous lifetime dollar value– both from direct dental treatment and referrals. If potential patients do not like the way their first call is handled, you can lose them for good. Don’t let it happen to you!