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Dental Front Desk Training: Phones 101

The receptionist is the voice of your organization. For many customers, the first impression they have of your company is directly tied to the person who answers the phone when they call your general number. So, training your receptionist to make callers feel informed and appreciated is essential.

Did you know that it costs 7x less to retain an existing patient than to attract a new one? Excellent customer service is the best way to retain patients! Phone calls always have a purpose and should be held in high importance.

Every phone call has 2 Objectives:

  1. Primary Objective: What you hope to achieve from the phone call. (Like scheduling the patient!)
  2. Secondary Objective: Leaving a positive impression of your Practice.

There isn’t a script for every single question that your receptionist is likely to receive. But you can teach them basic tact and professionalism.

Tact is about being open and honest without being rude or hurting a caller’s feelings. Here are a few pointers to include in training for your front desk staff:

The 4 Intentions of every phone call:

  1. Establish a Rapport
  2. Engage in a Needs Analysis
  3. Offer a Solution
  4. Complete your Objective

The 7 Elements of every call:

  1. Who are you? Both you and the caller
  2. Where are you from (Your Practice!)
  3. Are you speaking to the right person? Who has the Insurance benefits and can make a provider change if needed?
  4. What you want (to schedule an appointment!)
  5. Piquing their interest (Get back on track, new promotions, we care about your kid’s health – this is about connecting with the patient)
  6. Friendly, natural delivery (make scripts your own)
  7. Signing off with service (end every call with a thank you and a smile)

Being such an important business tool, the telephone, if used properly, can turn inquiries into long-time business. When training new staff, make sure you spend time training them on how the calls should be answered.

1. Make sure everyone in your company answers the same way – mentioning their name and the name of your company in a courteous way.

For example: "Good morning [name of your company] this is Cindy, how can I help you?

2. Make sure that you smile and sit up straight when you answer. That will ensure you speak clearly and send out a welcoming and positive voice to the person calling.

3. If the person the caller is after is on another line, give him an option of either waiting or taking a message.

If that caller decides to hold, make sure you give him feedback every 30 seconds to see if he still wants to wait or leave a message.

4. This should be obvious, but never put customers on speaker phone. That is by far the rudest thing you could do to them. It will make them feel like there is no privacy in your conversation and may prevent them from telling you what their request is. If you must put them on speaker phone, ask their permission and let them know the reason why you must do it.

5. If you let your calls go to the company's answering machine, make sure the message is professional and said slowly and clearly to ensure that your customers understand the instructions to follow. Mention the name of your business, and why they got the answering machine (i.e. state the opening hours, public holidays, etc.)

In a nutshell, the key to answering phone calls is uniformity (making sure everyone answers the same way), professionalism (answer phones promptly and with a smile), and being courteous (make sure the calls are returned in a timely manner and keep your customers informed of the progress of their request). If in doubt, think about how you would like to be treated if you were the one calling with a problem!

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