The phone is the gateway into your practice. It’s almost always your first impression. A phone call is the first chance you have to “set the tone” – in terms of how your practice makes patients feel, how competent you and your team seem to be, and whether you’re going to be the right practice to do business with.
All of these opinions are forming in the initial moments of a phone call.
If the phone is so important to a practice’s success, we suggest you treat it that way!
A first phone call is perhaps the most important interaction your practice will EVER have with a new patient. It will probably determine whether or not you ever get the chance to see the patient in person and do your thing.
Build a system with intent
Have a fail-proof system in place – you need something that is written down, rehearsed and consistently followed by anyone picking up the phone. It starts far away and long before the phone call itself.
Begin with the goals you’ve set for your practice, and exactly how many patients have to be seen in order to hit them consistently.
Reverse engineer how many calls you need to take, and how many of those calls need to be successful in order to see enough of the right patients.
Involve your team in leading these planning discussions. You’ll gain insight into how things happen on the front lines – common questions they hear, challenges people face, and gaps in your existing processes that you may not have ever realized. Secondly, and just as importantly, you’ll get your team to buy into whatever solutions you come up with.
Your team answering the phone now has an understanding of the importance of their role. Their buy-in is critical to your success. Now comes the part about arming them with a clear way to do it!
What is a call sheet?
Make sure you have a structured written way to take and track phone calls. A call sheet brings guideposts to every phone call, consistency, and your best chance to bring new business into your practice. In developing your call sheet, begin by asking yourself:
- Are we tracking calls?
- What data are we collecting?
- How and where are our best patients finding us?
- For what reasons are people calling?
- How are we performing in terms of outcomes?
The phone is the best place to gather this information – all day, every day. Otherwise you’re likely missing big opportunities.
Make sure that you have a written form that is filled out with each new call. Your standard form should include fields for the date, how they heard of you, their reasons for calling, the name of the person taking the call, and the outcome of the call. This is crucial to keeping track of leads. If you don’t know what is or isn’t working, you cant build on it!
Hire like it matters
Phone strategy presents the single most important way that we see practices boost revenue, period. As you audit your own phone processes and procedures, know that this area is truly the “low hanging fruit” when it comes to bringing an immediate impact.
To that end, have a dedicated, skilled phone receptionist. Provide him/her with the training and the tools they need to stay on their game. It’s important…trust me. Have a backup person who can seamlessly take over if your primary receptionist is not there. Set up an efficient system for when your practice is closed. If you’re not available, patients are calling your competition.
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Jenni Moseley has been in the dental field for nearly 20 years, since she was in her mid 20s. She pioneers the core values of the Elevate Practice systems: offer dentistry that people truly want, provide the services people deserve, and find the people who genuinely value quality dentistry.