Phone Strategies for the Dental Office

We were pleased to chat with Chicago Smile Spa dentist, Dr. Gerilyn Alfe about her staff’s phone training. Jill and I have had the pleasure of calling Dr. Alfe’s office for years now, and we always feel better after placing a call than we did beforehand. It is truly a pleasure to call Dr. Alfe’s office. Why? Well, we asked her! And here’s what she recommends…

Most importantly, never let the least experienced team member answer the phone. Instead, put the most experience team member on the phones so calls are properly handled. Dr. Alfe learned a long time ago that having the lowest ranking person as the gatekeeper to the office sends the wrong message and will lose potential business.

Each call should be handled with a high level of customer care. Don’t rush or the caller will feel like she called a switchboard. Consider the call more of a consultation.

Train your staff not just to answer the phone, but to actually triage the call. Rather than just answering the questions, the staff should be trained to probe further and determine the patient’s real need, then make an appropriate recommendation. Many offices just answer the question and hang up.

The purpose of the triage is not just to make sure the patient’s needs are met, but also to whether the  patient is a good fit for the practice. Dr. Alfe says, her dental practice meets a specific type of need and will redirect callers when necessary.

Hold weekly meeting and periodic training sessions. Dr. Alfe encourages role play on how to handle certain types of calls so that the entire staff can grow and learn. All team members are expected to learn how to triage a call and get to that higher level of customer care.

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