Improving staff phone habits can dramatically increase your new patient yield. Here’s where to start.
How do you get new patients in the door? You may try to attract them with ads and outreach, or with an excellent website. However, if prospective patients can’t book an appointment quickly and easily, you’ll never see them in the office. For many people who haven’t been to the dentist in a while, making an appointment is a spur-of-the-moment decision. If you don’t book them on the first phone call, their resolve will fade and you’ll never get them into the chair. Here are five phone habits that your staff needs to increase your new patient yield.
- Avoid putting new patients on hold. Industry sources have found that 15% people hang up after 40 seconds of hold time. These are most likely to be the people least invested in making an appointment- new patients. If you get a new patient call, give them priority, and get them booked for an appointment.
- Avoid transfers. Make sure your front-line staff can handle a new patient call from start to finish without pauses or hand-offs. You have a limited amount of time to persuade a new patient that it’s time to get treatment. Otherwise, he may decide the scheduling process is too much of a hassle, hang up, and forget about you until he has an abscess and can’t bear the pain any longer. Getting him in sooner is better for his oral health.
- Encourage staff to be friendly, but on task. You want your phone staff to be friendly, so that new patients see that your office is not an intimidating place. However, if they get too chatty, they’ll lose focus. Roleplay friendly-but-focused scheduling conversations with distracted, rambling patients. That way, your staff will be in practice when these situations crop up.
- If you have an in-house savings plan, offer it. You’ll get a number of new patient calls from people unsure about the cost and who lack standard dental insurance. If you have an in-house savings plan, give them a run-down. They’ll be more likely to book an appointment if they know they can afford it.
- Offer, don’t ask. Don’t ask the new patient if he’d like to book an appointment. That gives him a chance to hesitate, hang up, and forget about treatment until he’s in serious pain. Instead, offer him a choice of appointments: “Would you prefer Monday at 10 am, or Wednesday at 6pm?” Even if he’d prefer a third option, the phrasing gets him thinking about when he’ll be in, not if he’ll be in.
Remember, even in the internet era, the phone is still one of the main ways for new patients to contact you. Your staff needs to develop the habits that take new patients from the call to the appointment. If you need more insight into where you’re failing with new patient calls, my Call Tracker ROI service can help you pinpoint weaknesses and train your staff to book more new patients.
Originally published in Remin Media