Top Ten Tips for How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

Top Ten Tips for How to Effectively Answer the Dental Office Telephone

Hello Friends,

The phone is ringing, the calls are coming in, but appointments aren’t being made. In fact, it is quite possible potential new patients are unintentionally being turned away.

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.”

What kind of impression is your dental office team creating for you? Do you really know how effective they are in answering the office telephone? Are you tracking how many calls come in and how many of those callers schedule an appointment? Does it really matter? Absolutely!

All your marketing efforts lead people to the phone first. Don’t waste your money by losing the potential patient or aggravating current patients due to poor telephone skills and habits. Your entire team (clinical & admin) should be trained on how to properly answer the phone and effectively care for the caller.  

Answering the phone is a privilege and a great opportunity!

Here are 10 helpful telephone tips & ideas:

  1. Always Smile before you pick up the phone.
  2. Answer the phone within the first couple of rings.
  3. Answer the phone with a thank you for calling, identify the office and give your name. (ex: Thank you for calling Dr. Smiles, this is Betty. I can help you.)
  4. Do NOT let the caller go to voice mail (or a busy signal!) during business hours (including and especially lunch hours). People hate leaving messages. Oftentimes, they’ll hang up and call the next office on their list.
  5. Never, ever answer the phone with “hold please” or “can you hold?”! Take a quick second, find out who they are and what they need. People hate to be put on hold. If you are habitually needing to put callers on hold, you need more people answering the phones.
  6. For the few times when you do need to put a caller on hold – please, consider having a great message on hold service. Here’s why: Should I Use A Message On Hold Service?
  7. Get the caller’s name early on and use it often. BEFORE you answer their initial question, you should know who you are talking with. (ie: “Great question, I can help you that. Again, my name is Betty may I ask your name?”)
  8. Find out how they heard about your office (document the referral source in the software!).
  9. “What type of insurance do you have?” shouldn’t be the first thing you ask. In fact, let the caller bring that part up. Your goal is to build a relationship with the caller, to get to know them and their expectations.
  10. Offer an appointment. Sounds obvious right? You might be surprised to know how many offices miss this important step. Seriously, this one is so simple and yet it is shocking how many offices totally miss this opportunity. Remember, the goal should be to end the call with an appointment scheduled.

Set aside some time to meet as a team – everyone in the office should be trained on how to not only answer the phones but should know how to effectively handle the calls. At the very least, professionally & courteously direct the caller to someone who can help.

Practice, Practice, Practice how to effectively handle different types of calls and questions until you feel comfortable. (Yes, I am talking about role-play – I know we hate role-play  it’s uncomfortable (and embarrassing) to do but it’s necessary to be truly successful. Work through the discomfort. It’s worth it!)

As a team, create your Telephone Principles (scripting guidelines)which are your goals & expectations for each call.

Know how to respond to the following callers (not just answer their question but with the goal of welcoming them into the practice by scheduling a new patient appointment):

  • Shopper Callers – Great opportunity! Typically, the shopper caller has a need and is ready to “buy”, that’s why they are “shopping”.  Don’t blow it by refusing to quote fees over the phone or by failing to invite them to come in for a complimentary consultation.
  • Insurance Questions – Have a great response for: “Do you take XYZ ins?
  • Wrong Numbers – offer an appointment anyway.
  • Sales Calls – Be kind, they’re just doing their job. Maybe they need an appointment. Plus, you don’t know who they know. It’s simple – always be kind.
  • Organizations or local businesses requesting donations – Empower your team to fulfill their request. At the very least, offer them an appointment.

The telephone ringing should never be viewed as an interruption to your already too busy day. Certainly, handling the phones is a big responsibility but it’s an even bigger privilege. Don’t miss out on any opportunities to set your office apart from the others by always exceeding the caller’s expectations.

If you have questions about how to successfully handle telephone calls or need help training your team, don’t wait, ask for help. I’m ready to help you. Email:bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com

If you find the complimentary ideas that I share each month to be helpful for your practice, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review here on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOKThank you!!

Be sure to take a second and subscribe to receive in your email inbox each month, my FREE (no spam ever!) dental marketing, leadership, and practice management tips & ideas. Or if you prefer to email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow.

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty – Dental Coach

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Dental Office Leadership, Management, and Marketing Tips and Ideas for December 2020

Dental Office Leadership, Management, and Marketing Tips and Ideas for December 2020

Hello My Friends,

What does December typically look like for your dental practice? Schedules jammed with patients trying to use their remaining dental insurance benefits before they expire? Patients breaking their appointments same-day because they’re too stressed out, or financially strapped to think about going to the dentist?  Now, we can add patients breaking their appointment because they’re afraid to leave their homes and have been told that is unsafe to visit the dentist.  Or maybe your office needing to close due to a shut-down or COVID exposure.

Regardless of what December usually looks like in your office – we can expect December 2020 to look different (unusual) than years past because if there is one thing we’ve learned this year it is that things in life can change quickly and often.  

Many have become adaptability experts while looking forward to this year coming to an end. However, even with all the uncertainty and need to be adaptable, we can still plan to make the last month of the final quarter for this crazy year a HAPPY one.  We need it!

Here are a few dental leadership, marketing, and management tips and ideas to help you do just that.

Practice Management Tips & Ideas

Incomplete Treatment:

Do you have any patients with incomplete treatment or ones that are due/past due in hygiene with remaining insurance benefits that will expire at the end of this year? Do what you can to help them see the need and value in scheduling an appointment this month. Some offices invite their patients to take advantage of “today only” special offers that they share via their social media sites, emails, and telephone calls.

Do you know how many of your patients have unscheduled treatment plans and money remaining on their insurance for this year?

To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence  – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities.  I am happy to assist you with this at no charge and with absolutely no obligation to do anything further with me. 

Be alert to any patients that are coming in with the doctor or hygienist and have incomplete treatment or are due in hygiene. If the schedule allows, encourage them to take care of both at the same time. This means carefully reviewing all charts in advance of the appointment.

December is a great time for Special offers on Teeth Whitening, Electric Toothbrushes, and Invisalign.

Remind your patients that electric toothbrushes, teeth whitening, and dental treatment make excellent gifts!

Consider having a drawing for a gift basket or gift cards to local businesses that your patients can enter to win when they come in for their dental appointment before December 23rd.

Cosmetic Dentistry Opportunity:

Many of your patients will be attending/participating in end of year parties/events during the month of December. Now is a great time to help them see how they can easily get their smile ready for the camera (even if it is the Zoom camera) with teeth whitening and other cosmetic treatment/procedures.

Leadership Tips & Ideas 

“If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” —Andrew Carnegie

December is National Write a Business Plan Month – What does your business plan look like for 2021? Meet as a team to discuss marketing ideas, production, & collection goals, new patient goals, continuing education needs/wants, and office maintenance/repairs/remodel needs. Put your plans down on paper! Be sure to include a plan of action: The Who, What, Where, When & How’s!

Note: If you struggle with implementing your leadership, practice management & marketing goals – a dental coaching relationship may be the solution! Contact: Betty @bhaydenconsulting.gmail.com.

Marketing Tips & Ideas

Cookie Cutter Week: 1-7 – Purchase a variety of cookie cutters to individually package and seal with an office label that says: “Our Patients Are a CUT Above the Rest!” See more patient gift ideas here: Patient Appreciation Gift Ideas

betty hayden consulting dental office tips and ideas winter

National Hand Washing Awareness Week: 6-12 – Purchase small bottles of hand-sanitizer with your office information on the label.  Give away to your patients during this week or throughout the month.

Community Involvement: Donations – Open your office as a Drop-Off Location for donations of non-perishable food items or winter gear for families/individuals in need.

Oftentimes, local print & TV news will pick up these types of stories. (Especially around the holidays.)

Educational Opportunity: National 12-hour Fresh Breath Day: 12th –Create a few short videos for your social media platforms about the possible causes of bad breath as well as some tips and remedies to keep their breath smelling fresh.  

Social Media Post Ideas to Improve Engagement during the month of December

National Pear Month 

 Gluten-free Baking Week: 13-19 

National Sock Day: 4  

Toilet Paper Appreciation Day: 8 

National Chocolate-covered Anything Day: 16

Winter (Winter Solstice): 21 

Bacon Day: 30 

Look On The Bright Side Day: 31 

It may be that despite your best efforts the schedule will still fall apart. Don’t stress over it, instead use that available time to do some training, team building, office cleaning/organizing, or to catch your breath, and smile!

Did you enjoy these tips and ideas?   I would love and truly appreciate for you to please take a minute to leave a review/recommendation for me on GOOGLE and/or FACEBOOK

Don’t miss out on any of the ideas that I share each month! Are you receiving my complimentary Practice Management and Marketing Ideas in your email inbox each month? If not, please start following us today. If you prefer, send me your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow my blog. 

Yours for Greater Success,
~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

End of Year Dental Insurance Benefits Reminders, Tips, and Ideas (Use it or lose it)

End of Year Dental Insurance Benefits Reminders, Tips, and Ideas (Use it or lose it)

Hello Friends,

Have you had an opportunity to start reminding your patients to take advantage of any remaining dental insurance benefits before they expire at the end of year?

If not, this is a great time to get started on your “Use it or Lose it!” letters, calls, texts, and emails to your patients. This is for all of your patients that have dental benefits that renew on January 1st and/or patients with FSA or HSA dollars that expire at the end of the year.

Especially helpful for your patients that are /pastdue/due/or due this year for their hygiene visit and/or with treatment that is yet to be started or needs to be completed and their remaining dental insurance maximums are getting ready to expire.

Time to remind them to Use it or Lose it! – Get your letters, emails and text messages out to your patients reminding them to use any insurance benefits they have remaining for the year to complete any needed treatment or for their continuing care hygiene appointment before they lose them.

Remember, the closer it gets to the end of the year the more difficult it becomes to get them to schedule and you may not even have room in your schedule to accommodate them.

Your goal is to get them from the filing cabinet/computer to the schedule!

Personalize  – When mailing out remaining maximum letters, be sure to customize for each patient according to their treatment plan. This will help to re-create the urgency and value for treatment.  For some patients, it will take some type of additional incentive to get them to act. Perhaps, include a gift certificate for $ off of their treatment if it’s completed and paid for by December 31st. Not redeemable for cash. Or the opportunity to enter a raffle for a really great prize!

Need ideas for what to include in the reminder letter? Feel free to email me at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com and I will send you a sample letter that you can customize for your office. 

Take this opportunity to add a P.S. message to the end of your letter, telling your patients all about your specials on teeth whitening. Many people at this time of year are looking to whiten their teeth for their end of year celebration family photos, or to buy gifts for family and friends.

For example… 

P.S. Now is a great time to whiten & brighten your smile for your end of year celebration photos. We have some fantastic whitening specials! Teeth whitening gift cards also make a wonderful gift.

P.P.S. Did you know we are on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter? “Like” us on Facebook at … and “follow” us on Instagram, and Twitter at …  / This way you can stay up to date with all our office events & news plus have a chance at exclusive offers & contests.

Mailing Tip –  Use a bright-colored envelope and neatly hand-write the name and address. Use a “live” stamp. This will take a little more time to do but your patients are more likely to open an envelope that looks like it’s from a friend and not their dentist.

Phone Calls – About a week after you mail out your letters, go ahead and start calling them to see if they received the letter and to schedule them an appointment. Please don’t rely on electronic reminders or snail mail as your only method of communication – reach out to your patients with friendly telephone calls too.

Document – Be sure to document that a letter was mailed, phone calls were made and what type of response you received from each patient.

Important Reminder – Before sending out these letters and making calls to your patients be sure to review your upcoming appointment schedule… Where is your open chair time? Will pre-blocking some open time be helpful? Also, before scheduling last-minute appointments that require lab work at the end of the year be sure to communicate with your lab guy/gal that they can, in fact, get these cases back to you in time.

Friends, Do you know how many of your active patients have a future appointment and how many do not? Do you know how many new patients you are welcoming into the practice AND how many patients you’re losing each month?  To help you get that data quickly, like within minutes – if your PMS is either Dentrix, Eaglesoft, or Open Dental you can request a complimentary, no-obligation practice data snapshot here: Game-Changing Awareness from Dental Intelligence  – Within minutes we’ll identify your practice’s strengths and uncover hidden opportunities.  I am happy to assist you with this at no charge and with absolutely no obligation to do anything further with me

Social Media – Use your social media platforms to remind your patients to use their dental benefits before the end of the year.

Dental Office Insurance Renewal Reminders Betty Hayden Consulting

Wishing you all a full schedule for the end of the year!

If you enjoy the complimentary ideas that I share each month, I would love and truly appreciate for you to please leave a review/recommendation for me on Google or Facebook here are the links  GOOGLE and/orFACEBOOK

Have you signed up to receive my complimentary dental marketing and practice management ideas that are sent right to your email inbox each month? If not, take a second and sign up. Or send me your email address and I will send you an invite to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea!

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty

P.S. Please stop by and say hello to me on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn and Pinterest

Ten Steps to Create Healthy and Productive Fall Dental Hygiene Schedules

Ten Steps to Create Healthy and Productive Fall Dental Hygiene Schedules

Hello Friends,

Many dental offices are facing the potential for the weakest fall schedules they have ever experienced. For others, your schedules may look pretty good for September as you have been reappointing patients that had appts during the shutdown. It may even look better than ever. So, if you’re busy right now does it even matter what the schedule looks like for October and November? After all, there is still plenty of time to fill all those holes, right?

For numerous reasons, it matters greatly what your schedules look like for this fall and as for having plenty of time to fill those holes, well, we know what happens with time… it goes by very quickly, especially when we’re busy!

Typically, a full hygiene schedule today means a full doctor schedule tomorrow – why is that? Approximately, 75% of restorative needs are discovered during hygiene patient visits.

Unfortunately, when there is that open chair time with no production to collect on, your overhead expenses continue without letup.

This isn’t just about money though – our focus should always be on helping our patients smile healthier and happier. When Your Patients Are Healthy – The Practice Is Healthy. To help make our patients healthier we need them to schedule appointments.

how to fill holes in the dental hygiene schedule

Here are some tips and ideas that won’t require a lot of extra time or expense to help improve your schedules for this fall…

#1. Morning Huddle – At your morning huddle, review schedules for patients coming in without a future hygiene appointment scheduled, any family members due in hygiene, and patients with unscheduled treatment plans.  What is your plan to ensure that these patients leave with their next appointment scheduled.

#2. Broken Appointments – Who is tracking, and how are they tracking your broken appts? More importantly, what proactive steps are taken to reduce or eliminate broken appts in your office?  (One broken appt a day can cost a practice well over $30,000 a year in lost production. Imagine what that number looks like if you have more than one broken appt a day.)

If a patient cancels same-day be sure to get them reappointed while you’re on the phone with them. Unless of course, they are a habitual offender – poor appointment behavior doesn’t get rewarded with the privilege of reserving time on your schedule.  How to Reduce Same Day Dental Appointment Cancellations and No Shows

#3. Telephones – It is imperative that all team members are well-trained to effectively care for the patients and potential patients calling your office.  How many calls end with an appointment scheduled and how many do not? Are your office phones being answered during the times that patients and potential patients are most likely to call? How many times is the phone ringing before being answered? How often are callers being put on hold?

What about the “shopper” callers, the callers with insurance questions, the callers with questions about whether going to the dentist is safe or not, the callers asking if you’re accepting new patients, how do you know that these calls are being handled and cared for effectively? How do you know that your team members are not inadvertently keeping them from scheduling an appointment? Keeping you from welcoming them into the practice as new patients?

This may not seem like a big deal or related to what I am talking about today but how the telephone callers are cared for or not cared for has a big impact on your schedules and the growth of your practice.  Dental Office Telephone Principles

#4. Treatment Plan Presentations and Completions – Pull your unscheduled treatment plan reports. Even if you prefer to leave it to your patients to decide when they’re ready to schedule, you certainly can keep in touch with them and continue to gently plant some treatment reminder seeds of urgency, want, and need.

#5. Welcoming New Patients – What are your plans to successfully welcome more new patients into the practice? What are you willing to do differently in order to reach/exceed your monthly new patient goals?

#6. Community – What are some things you can do to get your name out there in the community?  If you’re not already, now is an awesome time to become the “go-to” dentist in your city/town.

What can you and your team do to give back to the community? Hint: I share ideas with you each month to do just that. Are you following my monthly emails? Dental Office Marketing, Leadership, and Management Tips and Ideas for September 2020

#7. Reviews & Recommendations – This one is super easy! Let your patients do some of the work, invite them to do the talking for you. Give them something good to talk about and spread to their friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. How? Consistently deliver excellent experiences via the telephone and in-person at their appointments. Make it easy for them to leave a review on Facebook and Google My Business.

Please do not underestimate the power of “fresh” online reviews and recommendations to grow your practice.

#8. Insured Patients – Mid September, early October start your end of year insurance “use it or lose it” reminders and campaigns.  Patients tend to wait until the last minute to try and squeeze in a dental appointment to use their remaining benefits – strongly encourage them to beat the end of the year rush.

#9. In-Office Savings Plan –   If your office offers an in-office savings plan, create some campaigns to let more uninsured people and local small businesses know about your awesome and affordable in-office savings plan.

This is especially important right now as many of your patients may have lost their dental insurance coverage – or they know someone that does not have insurance and can refer them to you.

#10. Continuing Education and Team Building – The fall season may be the perfect time to schedule some in-office continuing education and training. As well as some fun team building activities.

Bonus Tip: Celebrate your Success! –  This is going to require a team effort to enjoy productive and healthy schedules for the rest of this year and beyond so please be sure to find ways to celebrate your success. Reward the behavior that you want to see more of! 🙂

Wishing you all the healthiest and happiest schedules for this Fall!

Doctors, if you would like to grow and improve your dental practice and have wondered what it might be like to work with me and what coaching is all about… please feel free to reach out to me to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation coaching call at bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com.

Are you receiving my complimentary Dental Practice Management and Marketing Ideas via your email each month? If not, please follow today or send me (bhaydenconsulting@gmail.com) your email address and I will send you an invitation to follow. This way, you won’t miss a single idea. 

Yours for Greater Success,

~Betty – Dental Coach