It may sound strange, but the telephone, yes, that little device is in charge of the dental clinic's success, or, heaven forbid, its failure. Think about it –It all starts there: appointments, new customer inquiries, confirmations, contact with the lab, suppliers, etc.
No one just passes outside a clinic and comes in for treatment; it always starts on the phone. Since everything starts there, it is the primary channel that drives the whole business and therefore the utmost importance should be attributed to it. In addition to this, the phone is the clinic's front line, where initial contact with new customers' takes place and where they begin to formulate a (negative or positive) first impression of the clinic.
It is important to clarify that any missed phone calls can have enormous economic implications for the clinic. In a trivial case, in which a customer calls, interested in a full-blown rehabilitation and is not treated correctly, that phone call can cost the clinic a significant amount of money, and significantly affect that month's bottom line. The same principle also works in reverse of course. Therefore, no clinic has the luxury of failing to answer the phone. Paradoxically, the reality is different – phone response is the weak point of a majority dental clinics.
Here are a few points to pay attention to in the context of the clinic's conduct, in order to minimize missed phone calls: The manner of phone response must be respectful, presentable and in a permanent format: "Dr. Jones's Clinic, Anne speaking". This is because a phone response must include two pieces of information: the first, the name of the business the customer has called and the second, who they are speaking with. Why is this important? First of all, the customers want to know if they indeed reached the business they dialed (Dr. Jones's dental clinic), and second, they want to know that a staff member is on the line. A client cannot create an emotional connection with the "clinic", but can make a connection with "Anne". It is no coincidence that clients ask, "Wait a minute, who am I speaking with?" It's much more comfortable to know who you are speaking to and the conversation becomes more personal when you know the name of the person on the other side of the line.
However, phone response in most clinics is short and limp. I even heard some receptionists still answering - "Hello!" It is worth noting that companies in various countries have significantly improved their phone response, and that customers in recent years are exposed to this type of response regularly. Therefore, dental clinics cannot remain behind on this topic, especially when it comes to an opportunity (quite simple to implement) to help the clinic's image.
Considering this, no concessions should be made on this matter. So what should we do? A small sign should be put up at the receptionist station with a new and desirable version for answering the phone, and you should make sure that the receptionists begin to answer respectfully and in a presentable manner. If the receptionists answer the phone in this way for a whole month, they will absorb the new style and it will seem completely natural to them.
Quality of Phone Response
Another important issue is the quality of phone response, in other words, what are the answers given to customers questions on the phone? How do receptionists deal with customers? For example, what are the answers that your receptionists give customers, who call and asks questions such as "How much does an implant cost?" or "Do you work with insurance?"
An easy way to know what your customers are going through is simply to make "undercover" phone calls. Ask someone to call the clinic and ask the receptionists questions. Ask them to tell you how long it took the receptionists to answer (if at all), if they were nice and tolerant, if they answered all their questions and so on. If there is something wrong, you might want to remind the staff of the phone procedures and the message package associated with the clinic. For example, discuss how to convey to the customer that there are specialists working at the clinic and why this is an advantage. What to tell customers who ask if the clinic works with insurance? Do you inform costumers of prices over the phone? And so on'.
Missed Phone Calls
The issue of missed phone calls is considered to be the most painful problem for dental clinics. As mentioned, a missed call could be a treatment plan at very high cost, which was not performed at the clinic and affects the bottom line of the sales cycle for the month. How do you miss a phone call? Very easily. Note that most dental clinics make do with an answering machine when the clinic is closed or when the line is busy. But studies show that 80% of customers do not leave messages when they reach an answering machine. So in fact, you only hear the 20% of callers who did leave a message. But what happens with the other 80% of customers who tried to reach you?
Think about it, what happens when a new customer calls the clinic to schedule an appointment, however the first time the line is busy, the second time it is busy too, and the third time the answering machine picked up? I tell you ... he'll think, wait a minute ... what if I join this clinic, and need first aid, or a crown goes loos? I won't be able to reach them! I should keep looking...
So what should we do about this? The solution is simple - there are many companies who provide a message service when the clinic is closed or when the line is busy. The clinic receives a message (via email, SMS, or fax) about who called and then can get back to them, preventing a situation in which clients try to reach the clinic and fail.