Dental Office Collection Calls Are No Fun!
Dental office collection calls, however, must be made. Well, I guess that’s true only if you want to see positive collection numbers. And maintain great patient relations. Yes, collection calls do improve patient relationships. But only if the collection calls are handled well by the dental office team. The calls must be made from a great mind set and attitude.
Consistency is also crucial. We want to communicate more to our patients than just a collection attempt. But an expectancy or opportunity to discuss whatever is on their mind regarding their treatment. And to do this in a caring and kind way. And we do all of this with professionalism and polish. Does it sound like it’s impossible?! It’s really not! And I’m here to help you get a handle on it all.
Dental Office Collection Calls: With Consistency
Let’s focus first on patient accounts over 30 days due. The idea is to keep patients’ balances under the 60-day mark. And to do that we need to focus more on that over 30-day category. So, in order to do that, we run the patient aging report twice a month for this aged group. Yes, that’s right! It’s twice a month for the over 30-day aged accounts.
Look at the over 30 on the first Tuesday of the month. And then again on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Of course, we do so much more than just look at the accounts. And, you may have all the patient aging balances on one report. But let’s look only at the over 30 days group right now.
Dental Office Collection Calls: Review Each Account
Make sure you know what you are talking about. Before you make a single call, double-check. You want to know for sure the balance is correct. And exactly where the balance is coming from. Know the date of service and what was done for your patient. Check to see if the insurance paid correctly and if there were any adjustments made. And why does the patient owe the balance?
Note the date your patient’s statement went out. You really want to make sure that it’s been 30 days since the statement. If the patient’s statement never went out, send it right away. It happens now and then. And if it was just 2 weeks ago the statement went out, don’t call. But when you send daily patient statements this will help.
Dental Office Collection Calls Script
When we script our call, we handle it better. Not that we will say the same thing every time. But we will stay pretty close to script. And I also think it’s most important to use all communication to improve your relationships. Above everything else. Even above the money owed, we want to improve our relationship with our patients.
Here’s what I say. When a balance is over 30 days and I know it to be the patient balance. I’ve checked and knew what the balance is from. And I know it’s been 30 days since a statement went out. “Hi John. This is April from Dr. Brown’s dental office. Sorry to bother you today. I’m just a little concerned we might not have the correct address for you. We haven’t received anything back from the post office. But we did send a statement out to you last month. And I don’t show we have anything back from you. Could I please check that with you now?”
Most likely, the address is fine. And your patient may say a couple of different things. Certainly, answer any questions they have. And you can offer to email a new statement if they would like that. But it’s important here to offer to take payment while you have them on the phone. If they are able to pay you now, let’s do it. Then we can just move on, and you won’t have to follow up on this again.
When You Need to Leave A Message
Most times, when we make calls, we must leave a message. And the challenge is that most people don’t check voicemail messages today. And the last thing you want to do is leave a message that says you are calling about a balance. We still want to put the relationship above everything else.
Script your message. Know exactly what you want to say. And keep it simple. Here’s a great example. “Hello, John. This is April calling from Dr. Brown’s dental office. I have a very quick question for you. If you could please give me a call when you can. Our number here is 999-9999. Thank you.”
Call again tomorrow if you don’t hear back. Why tomorrow? Because even if the patient doesn’t check the message, they will most likely see it was the second call you made. And that alone might be enough to reach them. Be sure to make a note to yourself to call your patient back. Hopefully they will pick up this time. But try a different time of day. Maybe even a lunch time call.
The second message should be a little different. And although it might seem, like you are just sending a message in a bottle, don’t give up yet. Try something like this. “Hi John. This is April calling from Dr. Brown’s office. If you could please call me back? I just need to check something with you. It won’t take long. Promise! Our number here is 999-9999. Thank you.”
Tone is so important in our message. We want John to call us back. And we want to sound like we want him to call us back. Keep it positive and fun. This message doesn’t need to be intimidating or condemning in any way. And it shouldn’t be. Hopefully, we hear back soon.
Don’t leave a third message. And definitely don’t use text or email to reach your patient about their balance. I can understand the temptation. But those methods of communication are sacred ground. And we want to keep those communication lines open for appointment related conversations.
We move into sending a letter if no call comes back. Give your patient a full day after the second message was left. Then send your letter. That’s the very next step.