A poorly answered phone is almost as bad as an unanswered phone……….. With that being said, just who is answering YOUR phones and HOW are they answering your phone? Do you have someone who is crabby, curt, cranky, quick, and only answers the phone to get it to quit ringing and hang up as fast as they can? No opportunity to build a connection or leave a great impression. Or do you have sunshine welcoming your callers? Soft, friendly, WELCOMING voice, speaking clearly and never seeming to be in a rush? Building a connection from call one – priceless.
The phone is your first connection to the outside world. Your front line. How it’s answered it a direct reflection of YOU and your practice. The tone of conversations will make or break scheduling opportunities.
We all know that you should be answering your phones (willingly and friendly) and available to connect with your patients at least 40 hours a week. If you aren’t answering your phones when a patient, or new patient reaches out to make that connection, chances are they will make that connection with someone, somewhere else.
A missed call is a missed opportunity – Show me a full schedule and I’ll show you a practice who works their schedule consistently 40 hours a week. I’ll show you a practice that goes the extra mile – calling to check insurance benefits for the “iffy” patient – calling to obtain x-rays from their prior office – calling to follow up on a potential new patient who called to ask questions but didn’t appoint.
Some practices have an office cell phone that they dole out to employees on a rotating basis. But who are the employees you are trusting with the front lines of your practice? Do they have the knowledge, the skills, the personality and dedication to make this effort worth the while? Just handing someone a phone and expecting them to answer it because it rings, thinking that alone makes you feel better just because it was answered, is NOT the solution here. Have they been trained on phone skills, etiquette and scheduling specifics? Or are they just supposed to wing it, and winging it against their will because they are FORCED to take the cell home? Are they answering it when a child is crying, a dog is barking or when they are at the store? They do deserve complete time off and being chained to the office phone, for some, is a real drag.
I cannot encourage you enough to call your own practice. If you were a new patient, would the greeting make you feel WELCOME, comfortable, and good, that you chose your office?
Or was the phone answered in a hurried manner, unfriendly, unwelcoming like you are a bother?Now call other practices. What is the vibe you get from their office? I encourage our clients to create their own unique greeting for their practices. Why not set yourself apart from the rest on that first phone call? My greeting is always “Its a great day at Dental Support Specialties, this is Mary Beth, how may I support you?”. I heard a fantastic greeting a few weeks back from a dental practice of “It’s a great day at Dr. Smiths office, how may we make you smile today? Whatever the greeting, make it unique, welcoming and something they will remember. At the end of each call be sure that the caller is being asked “What other questions do you have for me” and to THANK them for calling.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting quite a few administrative superstars who answer the phone with such gusto you can’t wait to meet them! And here’s a bonus – People with these wonderful attitudes are more likely to exceed your expectations in other areas of their jobs too! They care about your practice, are excited to welcome new patients and take the job of keeping that schedule full serious!
Scheduling is based on emotion.Patients are calling your office for a reason. Even if it’s to adjust an appointment, with the right person, with the right personality on the phone, that appointment just might be saved. On the other hand, with the wrong person who either berates the patient, or sighs, or acts like this is the biggest inconvenience ever, well, chances are they are not going to reschedule; they will choose this time to say “I’ll call back after I look at my calendar”.
Think about a time when you’ve placed a phone call to a business – you’ve reached out because at that moment you’ve needed something – and your call gets answered by the most detached, uninvolved, could care-a-less nasty person ever. Makes you wish you didn’t make that call………. or maybe makes you wish you would have called the “other” place……. They weren’t not only NOT welcoming, but couldn’t help you right THEN, obviously didn’t know their job and told you to call back………. or said they would have someone call you back and no one ever did. Leaves a really bad impression of that place and chances are slim that you’ll ever call again and you will obviously never refer them to anyone – as a matter of fact quite the opposite; if anyone ever brings up that company name you will share your negative experience.
With this being said, 40 hours a week phone coverage is a must. (and I mean 40 hours every single week of the year) I personally don’t think you need after hours or weekend phone coverage – lets face it, the majority of new patients are NOT calling during those hours and existing patients only call during those hours for one of two things – an emergency or to leave a message to cancel their upcoming appointment.
Don’t focus on covering your phones during off hours, INVEST your money into covering the regular 40 hours a week WELL.
Make it a great day and THANK YOU for reading! 🙂
It’s time to replace that boring, non-productive answering service with a relationship building, appointment scheduling, productive AWESOME service!