By Sally McKenzie, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

February 7, 2019 -- When patients call your practice, they have a specific goal in mind. Maybe they're interested in learning about cosmetic dentistry options you offer, or they have a few questions about the technology you've invested in before they commit to scheduling their first appointment.

Sally McKenzie
Sally McKenzie, CEO of McKenzie Management.

Whatever the reason, if the person who answers the phone can't offer the information, these callers won't hesitate to contact another practice.

The problem is, team members often feel nervous when handling patient calls. They're not sure how to answer callers' questions, so they fumble and stumble until it's finally over. That's why it's so important to develop detailed scripts employees can refer to, whether they're talking to a potential new patient who wants to know more about the services you provide or calling past-due patients to get them back on the schedule.

At ease

Scripts help put team members at ease and ensure they deliver the correct information to your patients. If you don't have scripts, team members are left to their own devices, which could cost your practice.

There are many benefits, including the following three, to having scripts your team members can use.

1. Increased effectiveness

When the phone rings, team members have no idea what the caller wants. They often have to think on their feet, which can be uncomfortable. Having scripts to follow puts them at ease. Figuring out what to say is no longer a guessing game as the information is right there in front of them.

Detailed scripts also are helpful when contacting recall patients or patients with overdue bills. These calls can be nerve-racking, but following a well–thought-out script gives team members more confidence. They know exactly what to say and are prepared for any concerns or objections patients might bring up. This preparation can make these exchanges more pleasant and more successful.

2. Consistent message

Patients should receive the same message no matter who answers their call. Consistent messaging is important when talking with patients. However, one team member might have different answers than another regarding your clear aligner therapy options. Scripts help ensure everyone is on the same page.

This also is vital when it comes to patient education. If patients hear different messages from different team members, they're left feeling confused and wondering if they can entrust your practice with their care. Consistent messaging gives patients more confidence in your practice, leading to a boost in case acceptance.

3. More patients

When potential new patients call in, they often have a lot of questions. If the team member who answers uses words like "no" or "we can't," you can bet these patients will keep calling until they find a practice that can.

“Each call should be personalized and focused on educating patients about their condition.”

Scripts help ensure team members use the right language when talking with these callers, which means more of them will actually schedule that first appointment before they hang up.

You'll also likely see an increase in practice production numbers. Reaching out to recall patients is a great way to get more treatments on the schedule. But if these calls aren't handled properly, that won't happen.

Each call should be personalized and focused on educating patients about their condition and why it's so important to schedule routine visits. Team members should be prepared to address any concerns patients have and to break down any perceived barriers to care. This is much easier when armed with a script.

Other benefits

Your treatment coordinator also can turn to a script when making follow-up calls after initial case presentations. The coordinator can tailor education to address issues brought up during that first meeting, and will know exactly what to say to make patients want to schedule. You'll get more patients in the chair, leading to an increase in production and revenues.

Also, collection calls likely will be become less awkward and more successful. Most team members dread making these calls as it is difficult to ask patients to pay overdue bills. A well-crafted script for your financial coordinator will make this task much less stressful.

Keep in mind these calls shouldn't be confrontational. Your coordinator should maintain a helpful tone and work with patients to get their bills paid. Trust me, you'll get the money much faster with this approach.

Of course, it's also important to train team members on how to talk with patients over the phone -- not just coach them on what to say. They should speak clearly, smile when they talk, and actually listen to the caller -- not just wait for their turn to speak. They also should keep conversations natural even though they're referring to a script.

Sally McKenzie is the CEO of McKenzie Management, a full-service dental practice management company. Contact her directly at 877-777-6151 or at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.


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