Dental Office Telephone Tactics For 3 Sticky Situations
Dental office telephone tactics help to support the dental front office with those tricky situations. Tactics are quick, actionable plans that support the overall strategy of the dental practice (which is to provide exceptional patient care).
Dental office telephone tactics are absolutely necessary for the well- being of any dental office administrator. Having a solid plan and outlining dental telephone scripts for the office, create the plan and safety net for the dental administrator. Knowing what direction to go when the road gets rough, and taking some of the surprises out-of-the-way, makes the day so much nicer.
1. Multiple phone lines: You are talking with a new patient and another line starts ringing. I think most dental offices would probably have more than one incoming phone line on their office telephones. I haven’t worked in an office that ever had only one phone line. So, I am sure this is a challenge in every office.
What do you do with this new patient call? Would you place this new patient call on hold and answer the line that is ringing? Would you let the line that is ringing go to voicemail?
There is always a good answer. There is always the best answer!
The best answer is always to use good judgement!
Hopefully, you have caller ID on your phone system and you can see the name & number of the call coming in. If this call coming in is a call that you identify as one that can easily go to voicemail without a problem, then let it go to voicemail.
However, if you have any doubt about who the caller is or the importance of this call, ask your new patient if you could place them on a brief hold while you answer the other incoming call and assure them you will be right back.
(Always remember to say please and thank-you. This is a gracious extension to your new patient of the kindness they can expect you to exhibit in providing service to them.)
Dental Office Telephone Tactics: What If One Call Is A New Patient Call?
It might be that you are in a place in the conversation with your new patient that you can easily break or wrap up the conversation. Politely thank them again for calling and let them know you look forward to meeting them.
If you are just getting started with the new patient call, and feel that you need to answer that incoming call now, you could say “Excuse me, Mr. Jones. Would you please excuse me while I place you on a brief hold. I would like to quickly answer another incoming call & let them know I can call them right back. Thank you so much”.
Answer that second line as you would any other call. Your initial greeting should never include “Please Hold”. Listen to what your caller needs. Then ask their preference. Would your caller prefer to be placed on hold or to receive a call back.
Remember, again, always say please and thank you!
Dental Office Telephone Tactics: Who Comes First?
2. Who comes first? There is a patient at your desk checking out & the phone rings. How many times a day does this happen? It can definitely create stress and really doesn’t need to. Promise!
What do you do here? Do you let that call go to voicemail and continue with your patient check out? Do you try to juggle both?
The best answer is always to use good judgement!
Good manners and good judgement sure go a long way in making all of your patients feel they matter, that you are paying attention to them, and don’t forget to smile. The last thing you want your patients to feel is stressed or that you are too busy!
I would suggest you check your caller ID to see if the call coming in at that moment needs your immediate attention. Ideally, you want to answer every call as it comes in, so do your best to do that.
Both of these people are equally important, and you certainly want them to feel that in the way you care for them.
“Please excuse me, Sally. Would you mind if I answer this call and make sure everything is ok? I’ll be right back with you. Thank you so much.”
Smile! And Everyone Smiles With You!
Remember to smile! Always smile twice!
Go ahead and answer that call. “Hello, Dr. Brown’s office. This is April. How can I help you?”. Answer that line like you always answer that line. Answer that call like it is the most important patient in the world calling your office right now.
“John, thank you for calling. I do have someone here with me at my desk. Would you like me to call you right back, or would you prefer to hold? Thank you”.
Then you can return to the patient at your desk. “Thank you again, Sally! Where were we?”
Dental Office Telephone Tactics: Calls Of A Sensitive Nature
3. Making and Receiving Calls of Sensitive Nature. Working at the dental front office is often a very public setting. You may find yourself surrounded by an audience and feeling like you are on stage the entire day. Guess what? You are!
So, how do you handle those calls of sensitive nature when everyone is listening?
First, let’s identify what some of those calls might be.
- phone in a patient’s prescription
- calling an insurance company
- calling a patient about a balance
- answering billing questions
Phoning in Prescriptions
Phoning in a patient’s prescription requires a patient’s full name, birth date, and other private information. This is a phone call that must be made when there is no one else listening to you. This phone call should be made when the waiting room doesn’t have anyone listening to you, or by a team member that can use a phone away from patient’s listening ears.
Making Insurance Calls
Calling an insurance company requires a patient’s name, date of birth, member id# and other private information. This call should also be made when there are no patient’s within hearing distance. Wait for a time when the waiting room is empty, or when you know you have some time alone to make that call. This is a call that will probably take some time and you don’t want to be interrupted (good luck)!
Calling About Overdue Balances
Calling a patient about a balance due. Definitely, you will not want other patients to overhear you discussing unpaid or overdue balances with another patient. You want all of your patients to experience only pleasantness when they are in your dental office. These calls don’t have to be unpleasant for you either, but most of all, you don’t want it to be uncomfortable for someone else listening in.
Answering Billing Questions
Answering billing questions. You are going to receive phone calls about bills at a time when others can hear you or are at your desk. If at all possible, ask the patient calling in if you could review the statement & call them back. Of course, if the answer is simple, and doesn’t require that you divulge any personal, private, or sensitive information out loud, it would be perfectly fine to simply answer their question right then and there.
Finding The Time
How do you find the time to do these things and make these calls when the office is quiet? It can be done. Keep a running notepad of those things you need to get back to and finish it every day. I find that the end of the day is the quietest time for me in the dental office. This is a great time for me to run through my notepad and finish up anything I haven’t had the chance to do that day.
I will also go to my notepad first when there is a little lull in the day & I notice that the waiting room has quieted down, patients are being treated, and I have a few minutes to myself. It’s amazing what you can do in just a few minutes!
Dental office telephone tactics can lighten your day at the dental office. It’s really nice to have a plan in place or at least an idea on how you want to manage some things before they actually come up. I love scripts! Not that we need to know what to say! But when we know what to say, we can focus more on how to say the words. We can connect, we can guide, and we can be successful!
I’m here for you. Looking for additional support or coaching? Let’s chat!