Dental Office Reschedule Scripts
Dental office reschedule scripts are a fabulous way to set the stage for the dental front office or any team member working at the dental front office. Phone scripts help the dental front office to know just what to say!
Creating scripts for the dental team not only provide a foundation from where the team can spring from, but also help set the tone for what the entire team can count on as “policy” and consistency in the ever- changing dental office schedule.
Dental Office Reschedule Scripts Prepare The Team!
No matter what your individual office policy might be for rescheduling a dental appointment, there are going to be patients who need to reschedule their appointments.
Preparing ahead for those appointments that are rescheduled with short notice will make for a happier team and a healthier office environment, than the doom and gloom that accompanies a strict no short notice reschedule policy.
Let me tell you why!
I have worked in large multi-location specialty practices in large cities, and I have also worked in rural country dental practices. There are differences, yes! There are also similarities!!
Dental Office Reschedule Scripts Are Necessary!
Patients Will Need To Reschedule Short Notice
Dental patients will reschedule short notice no matter where they live, despite policies, for several reasons. Dental office reschedule scripts will take some of the work out of these reschedules. You’ll always know just how to handle those calls!
Dental patients are people with busy lives, and unexpected happenings in their day! Flat tires, sick kids, unexpected mandatory meetings, sick co-workers, a pet needs to go to the vet, unexpected expenses, etc.
Some dental patients even dread going to the dentist so much and have such anxiety that they will use any possible excuse to escape the dental office!
Does this mean that in the dental office, we should make it easy, or allow patients to run the schedule? Absolutely not!!
It does mean that as the master scheduler in our dental practice, we absolutely must maintain control. That control doesn’t have to come through an iron fist. In fact, a quick thinker, with a rescheduling script to spring from, can save the schedule and the day!
I’ll give you some examples:
Dental Office Reschedule Scripts #1
Tom calls the office and needs to reschedule his hygiene appointment for tomorrow. Tom is scheduled for 2 hours with your dental hygienist. He has all four quadrants of active therapy scheduled and his appointment was confirmed by text yesterday.
I can feel your blood pressure rise and your heart starts beating out of your chest! I know what you want to say… but don’t. Here’s what you do.
No matter what else is happening around you, or what you want to say or do, ask Tom to hold, and thank him for calling. (Remember, he could have just not shown up or called the day of his appointment! It can always be worse).
The Power of “Please Hold”!
“Tom, thank you so much for calling. I’m going to ask you to please hold for one minute. I’ll be right back”.
Normally, I would suggest you ask permission to put a patient on hold.
This is not my recommendation when a patient is calling to reschedule their appointment. Make this hold part of your dental office reschedule scripts!
Always tell your patient to “please hold” when they are calling your dental office to reschedule short notice. Then, quickly, place them on hold. Don’t wait for a response or ask permission.
Take A Breath & Re-Group
This “hold” allows you to take a deep breath and set your mind on what you are about to say.
This “hold” also allows your patient to sit with their own discomfort of making the call. It’s not a punishment for your patient. It is just the first step for you to gain the necessary control of this conversation.
Now, you are ready to go back to your call with Tom.
“Hello, Tom. Thank you so much for holding for me. And thank you again for calling today. I understand you need to reschedule your appointment for tomorrow. Is everything OK?”
Allow Tom to explain. He might say, ” Yes. Everything is fine. I’ve just been told I need to attend mandatory meeting at work tomorrow. I’m not sure what it’s about but my boss isn’t going to let me leave for my dental appointment. I’m really upset. I have been waiting for this appointment and wanted to get it done”.
Come Into Agreement
It’s probably true. True or not, we are going to always take what we are given at face value.
I would reply, “I understand.” It is important to come to an agreement early on in this conversation. The idea is not to create controversy or a stumbling point for Tom. We want to bring him into agreement with us by coming into agreement with him first.
“I can definitely get you rescheduled, Tom. Our next available appointment is in January. I know that is several months out, Tom. We would like to help you get this done sooner too! It’s important that we get you healthy as soon as possible! We also want to help you utilize your remaining dental benefits for this year. Would it be alright if I schedule you in January and call you with sooner appointments as we see changes in our schedule?”
Tom will do 1 of 2 things! Tom will either say, yes, please! I want to get this done! Tom might also say, “You know what!? I’m going to talk to my boss and see how important this meeting is for me to attend. Maybe she can just give me the information now or I can meet with her another time”.
Don’t Give Away Your First Available Appointment
Even if you have an appointment that is open sooner during this initial conversation with Tom, you are not going to offer it to him.
If Tom does schedule and January and want to be called with sooner times, you can call him tomorrow with any schedule changes.
Hopefully, Tom was able to reschedule his office meeting and shows up for his appointment as scheduled. If not, you have an appointment you can move forward as you need!
Dental Office Reschedule Scripts #2
However, Tom did not keep his scheduled appointment. In fact, Tom rescheduled for January and you were unable to move his appointment forward.
Tom’s January appointment time arrived. Tom didn’t confirm his appointment by text this time. In fact, you had to call him to try to confirm. He did not call back with the first voice mail message you left asking him to confirm. So you called again.
Tom answered his phone on your second call, the day before his scheduled appointment. “I’ve been meaning to call you, but I’ve been so busy. You are not going to believe this, but I need to reschedule my appointment again. I’ve started a new job and my dental insurance doesn’t become effective until the beginning of February.”
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Utilize “Please Hold” Well
Handle this call with the same “hold” tactic. (This time you will not thank Tom). Make this hold part of your dental office reschedule scripts!
“OK, Tom. But if you could please hold for a moment, I’ll be right back”.
Try to keep in mind, when handling this call, that we honestly have no idea what is really going on in Tom’s life. Nor do we necessarily need to know.
What we need to do is try to find a way to help Tom get his dental treatment done, and manage our schedule the best way that we can.
Always Say “Thank You”
When we get back on the line we greet Tom, “Thank you Tom, for holding. You know, we can try again, Tom. I am going to ask if something comes up for you, that you please give me at least 2 business days should you need to reschedule.
We do have patients who are waiting for an appointment like yours, they just need a little time to adjust their schedules. I know you understand. Now, let’s get you rescheduled for April. That’s our next appointment time, and again, I can call you with schedule changes.”
It’s going to be in your best interest to really work on getting Tom in on a short notice call list! He is definitely one of those people to manage and manage well.
For the sake of conversation, and to give you one more script, we are going to go with Tom not taking any short notice appointments.
Dental Office Reschedule Scripts #3
Tom has not taken any appointment openings. He does, however, remember that you asked him to call should he need to reschedule. He calls just outside the 48 hour notice to reschedule.
What do you do?
I know there are dental practices that might have charged him or dismissed him by this time. That is not my recommendation.
My recommendation is to always be working to build a strong call list where you can always be moving patients forward who would like to see you sooner. I also recommend strong patient management with positive reinforcement over kicking patients out of the practice or charging them reschedule fees.
Tom says, “I have another problem with this appointment. I’ve just had surgery and my surgeon doesn’t want me having any dental work done. I’m sorry. Can I reschedule?”
Again, we are going to ask Tom to hold and we are going to thank him for calling.
Do Not Reschedule
Once we pick the phone back up, we are not going to reschedule his appointment. We say, “Tom, thank you again for holding. When did your surgeon say it would be okay for you to reschedule your appointment? Did the surgeon say anything about need for pre-medication prior to your dental appointments? Could we contact them to be sure? ”
“Great!! Here’s what we are going to do! I’ll call the surgeon to make sure we are handling and coordinating your care according to their guidelines. Then I will call you back to let you know what we need to do. We will call you with appointment openings whenever your surgeon gives us the thumbs up. What is the best number for me to reach you at?”
Tom is not rescheduled a third time. This time, he will go on a short notice call list.
The important piece of this is that you have handled Tom in a very positive light and controlled the situation to the best of your ability. It’s important to stick to the dental office reschedule scripts that you develop. Once you get in the habit of it, these conversations and actions all become very natural.
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