Increase New Patient Production With Expanded Availability

By Rob Klaus, President, UIC Dental

VOIP headset on laptop computer keyboard concept for communication, it support, call center and customer service help desk

We have all heard it.

“Your call is very important to us, but we are either out
of the office or assisting other patients. Please leave your name, number, and reason for calling and we
will call you back at our earliest convenience.”

That’s right—at our convenience. Meaning the office, not at the convenience of the patient who’s calling. A message such as this conveys two things:

1. The patient is not as important as whatever the office is doing.

2. The office will get back to the patient when it is convenient for the practice.
While not intentional, this is the message being communicated via voicemail and it is an unfortunate first impression if the caller is a new patient looking for a dentist.

This is significant as new patient calls make up between 6-10 percent of all calls answered by UIC Dental on behalf of our partner dental practices. One out of every ten calls is an opportunity for the practice to shine while fostering a relationship with a potential new patient. Too often, many practices instead choose to rely on voicemail and hope the patient answers when they call back; or has not already scheduled with a practice that did answer.

Instead, dental practices should focus on demonstrating to their patients how much they care about them and value their time. The solution to this is quite simple—prove it to them by actually answering the phone when a patient calls—when it is convenient to him or her as the patient.

By proving to callers their calls are important, the office now can accelerate their buying process and schedule them quickly. The patients will be able to stop searching for information and evaluating alternatives as their decisions can be made right then—all because the office was available.

Options to Increase Availability
Several options are available to increase office availability. A practice can choose to integrate any of the following internal solutions:

• Stagger lunch schedules.

• Staff the office to answer calls on days the practice is closed.

• Forward calls to the office manager’s cell phone.

Trade-offs exist with each of these options. All require more of staff and usually increase staff overhead. Additionally, internal options do not address the issue of multiple calls at once or calls when staff members are busy with patients and not available to answer the phone.

Answering Service Option
Answering and scheduling services offer an effective alternative—a third party solution that answers calls when you cannot, demonstrating to patients that they are important to the practice. However, be sure to consider the following questions when looking at a third-party option. A service that checks all of these boxes is much more effective than both voicemail and a traditional answering service:

Transparency: Will you be able to listen to any and all of your calls? Are they tracked and tagged for data mining?

Ability to schedule: Does the company schedule directly in your software? Will the appointment be scheduled via your specific guidelines and protocols?

Availability: Does the company offer hours that cover the time before you open, after you close, weekends, and throughout the week when you are busy in the office?

Expertise: Does the company have experience and expertise with dental practices or are they simply an answering service? Are they trained and experienced with your practice management software?

Customer Service: Will the company be available for questions and be responsive to the office’s needs and feedback?
Simply put—availability matters for dental offices! Availability matters in providing exceptional customer service to your patients and also to your office’s bottom line.

I challenge you to think of a couple competitors in your area and call them during lunch, on a Friday afternoon, at 5:30 p.m. or on a Saturday to see if they answer. If they answer and your office isn’t answering during that time, you are losing new patients to your competitors and adding availability will help your office compete. If they do not answer, your practice now has the potential to provide this vital service and have a significant advantage over the competition.

Rob Klaus is President of UIC Dental. A partner of Burkhart Dental, UIC Dental helps make dental practices more available to their patients over the phone to solidify their bottom line via a dental-specific scheduling process with live, trained staff scheduling directly in the practice management software using the specific protocols and guidelines defined by the client practice. Transparency is built in—customers can listen to any call at any time to be assured of a positive patient experience. Rob can be reached at (800) 895-2247 or rob@uicdental.com. Learn more at http://www.uicdental.com. rob-klaus

 

 

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