Inside Dentistry
May 2008
Volume 4, Issue 5

Strategies That Convert new Patient Callers!

Angie Skinner and Penny Reed Limoli

Dental Genius™ Coaches, Memphis, Tennessee

Peas and carrots. Peanut butter and jelly. New patients and the telephone. Some things just naturally go together. If you have patients who e-mail in requests for appointments, you’re in the minority; 95% of prospective patients call to schedule a visit. Each initial phone call is a one-time event that either will—or won’t—create an impression that encourages callers to schedule. Think you’re doing a good job with call conversion? Judge yourself against these points to see how you’re doing.

  1. Put your most outgoing person on the phone. In his book Good To Great, Jim Collins says, “Put your best people on your best opportunities.” The phone is your best opportunity in new patient acquisition. Choose wisely when assigning phone duty to staff members; only the caring, friendly, and candid need apply. If you have solid (but unenthusiastic) employees, don’t be tempted to let them control your influx of new business. Hold out for an expert communicator.
  2. Greet with two seconds in mind. Your greeting doesn’t simply matter; it’s imperative. If you haven’t read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink; The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, you haven’t encountered the two-second rule. That’s the amount of time most people need to decide whether something is “for them” or not. If all you have is a few seconds, make them count. Greet callers like friends and be sure you’ve got warmth in your voice. Cold, impersonal offices will still get calls. They simply won’t be able to compete with your sense of humanity; being real still sells.
  3. Use your name...and the caller’s. There’s nothing more personal than a name, especially if it belongs to your caller. Use your prospect’s name at least once during the call. Like seasoning in food, the use of a name can be overdone. Our suggestion? Use your caller’s name no more than twice during the call. Be sure to tell them your name, repeating it at the end of the call. Because an exchange of names initiates relationships, your caller will be looking for you on their first visit. Enthusiastically greet them when they come in and introduce them to other team members, just as if you are welcoming them to your home.
  4. Go ahead; get the appointment (GTA). Let’s say prospects call with questions or concerns. Do you see children? Are you a provider on their insurance plan? Are you accepting new patients? Don’t be confused or misled—those callers are the prospects you’ve been hoping will call and are likely the ones not included in your marketing budget. Administrators, your job is to let callers know your dentist can help them with whatever it is they are most concerned about. Sell the office, sell the dentist, and ask for the appointment. Don’t let a caller off the phone after answering the question, never to be seen again; GTA!
  5. Stop closing the door to sales with your questions. Old hands at selling will tell you the fastest way to “unsell” a prospect is to talk too much. Instead of asking a caller their name, address, phone number, social security number and date of birth (and possibly more!), focus on getting the caller’s name and a best number to reach them for a confirmation or courtesy call before the appointment. Skip questions about insurance benefit plan providers, but do remind the new patient to bring their insurance card on the day of the appointment. In short, don’t exhaust a caller with questions. Get the information you must have to make an appointment and spend the rest of the call selling the office.

  6. Listen to yourself often. We Mystery Shop our client offices every 2 to 4 weeks. During these recorded calls, we’ve heard administrators sound harried, distracted, or confused to prospects—and many are unaware of the current offers listed in the practice’s local advertising! While it’s forgivable for new employees to not understand all dental terminology or to need help answering benefit plan questions, there is really no excuse for sounding annoyed with a caller or not offering to find the answers they seek. A recording of what actually happened changes everyone’s perspective—there’s nothing subjective about it. Whether you use an outside Mystery Shop service or record inbound calls on your own, listen and learn from the results. You’ll improve your customer service dramatically.

Interested in converting more callers? Visit www.dentalgenius.com for Mystery Shopping and Telephone Training services. Or call 866-332-6224 for more information.

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