Training New Dental Front Office Team Members? Start With The Phone!
Training new dental front office team members in your dental practice can be a fun, exciting, and rewarding experience for everyone! More established team members get a chance to shine and share what they know. In addition, existing dental patients just love meeting and getting to know new members of the “family”.
Telephone training for any new team member is critical. Even for someone taking on a position change from the back office to the front office, telephone training is very important. Or if your dental office has dental assistants filling both back and front roles, they too need telephone training.
The telephone has sure changed in the last 10 years! So has how we use our phones! Although we have texting and email features on our phones today, phone calls are still the number one way our dental patients communicate with us in the office. So, it definitely helps everyone in the practice to give every new dental administrator the support they need with great phone training!
Training New Dental Front Office Team Members Takes Time!
Some would say that there are no short cuts in training, and that it just takes time. Some might also say that you can’t buy time. Let me show you just how you can buy some time, save some time, and get even more out of the training time invested in training your new dental office team member.
The training process is a time investment. As a general rule of thumb, it takes about 90 days for a new team member to be a truly productive part of the family.
A year is typically the time to expect before the new team member truly settles into their role well. Of course it varies from person to person, the training provided, and the role and practice itself. But we can make progress quite swiftly with the right tools!
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Dental Administrative Training
What would you pay for time? If someone told you that you could actually buy time back, what would be a good price?
I have worked in the trenches of dental practice management for over 25 years, educated specifically in dental practice management, and advised under some of the country’s greatest dental consultants. Take my experience and training and put it to work for you!
Training New Dental Front Office: How To Begin
If you have a brand-new team member in the dental practice that is going to be answering phones, you want them to really just observe for a few days. Unless of course, they are coming to you with a great background of dental office experience and can just jump right in for you. (They will still have questions).
During those first couple of days, be sure to introduce the new team member to each and every patient that comes into the office! This is a great way to help them feel comfortable and at home in their new surroundings.
Here are some basic telephone tips for starters! Handle each dental office phone call with care.
Training New Dental Front Office Telephone Guide
Provide the new team member with a basic script printed on your office letterhead of how you would like the phones answered. For example, “Hello! Thank you for calling Dr. Jones’ dental office! This is Maggie. How can I help you?”. Yes, write it down, and put it on company letterhead.
This is information your new team member can look back on when they need it. The office address, telephone number, the doctor’s full name, or some other important information they might not remember with everything else spinning around in their head!
By the second week of training, the new front office team member should begin answering the phones. You want them to have the confidence to use their own personality in the greeting with the verbiage you would like used when answering the phone.
What would you say is acceptable? We have voicemail… right? Is it ok for the call to go through to voicemail if the front office administrator is working on something else with another patient?
These are great answers to also have in writing with the phone script on the office letterhead.
I always say 3 rings are the maximum number of rings allowed before someone in the office answers that line. The incoming phone calls during business hours don’t go to voicemail. I understand there will be times when they just have to. But, as a general rule, the front office administrator excuses herself for a second to answer the ringing line.
What About That “Hold” Button?
How do you want to manage the “hold” feature on your telephone? No one likes being put on “hold”. But the only thing being put on “hold” is being greeted by a “Please Hold”!
It seems like “Hello” has totally been replaced by “Please Hold”!
Always answer with a warm greeting! “Hello” is still the proper way to answer the telephone. No matter how busy you are! It is a good idea to ask your caller if they would prefer to hold or a call back. They might just have a 3 second message like “I’m just calling to let you know I’m due there with Dr. Jones in 3 minutes, but I’m 10 minutes out still, due to a flat tire. But I’m on my way!”
Training New Dental Front Office: Appointment Confirmations
Appointment confirmations are a great way for the new team member to get some experience with your phone system, your schedule, and to be able to introduce themselves to your patients.
I recommend calling all patients 2 days in advance to confirm, and anyone who still hasn’t confirmed upcoming appointments that are set for the upcoming day’s schedule.
Confirmation calls require some judgement, good sense, and knowing your patients. Some patients prefer to be confirmed on their cell numbers, some on their work numbers. Some patients don’t want to be told to call back to confirm, but you can count on them being there. Then there are those, that if you don’t reach personally, you know won’t show up at all. Or maybe they will!!??!!
Hopefully, accounts have been flagged that require special attention, or you have a system that you have developed to identify each patient and their needs quickly.
Have a scripted confirmation typed up for your new team member. It would read something like this “Hello! This is Maggie calling from Dr. Jones’ dental office. I am calling to confirm your crown appointment scheduled with Dr. Jones Wednesday at 9 a.m. We look forward to seeing you then. If you have any questions, please call me here at 888-8888. Thank you”.
Automated Confirmation Systems
If you are not using an automated confirmation system, I would highly encourage it. No matter how small your dental practice may be.
Text messaging or email confirmation for so many people has become the very best way to reach them, regardless of where they are or what they are doing, the majority of people will reply to a text message. It has even become socially acceptable to answer a text message while you are in a meeting, talking to someone else, or even getting your hair done.
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I definitely have a preference when it comes to automated confirmation systems! I have been using Lighthouse for several years now and love that they offer so many options and features that can be totally customized!
Lighthouse even offers an ability to send messages to offer appointments to patients, pay their bill, and even helps me with my reactivation systems.
Lighthouse has been a tool that has given me back time! Couldn’t you use more time?
Check it out for yourself!!