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    3 reasons new employees shouldn’t answer the phones

    While it may seem like the logical place to start a new employee, answering the phone might be one of the tasks that requires the most training.

    It is typical in a dental office that when we hire a new employee at the front desk, they start by answering the phones for the office. Really, when looking at it from the dentist's perspective, that is the easiest thing to start with, right? Other duties such as scheduling, treatment plan presentations, collections, etc., require a lot more training and knowledge of the dental office and policies.

    That definitely seems to make sense, but frankly, that is one of the worst things you can do for your office with a new employee. The best first step you can take should happen well before they start answering the phones. Let's go over a few scenarios of how these calls typically play out:

    • A new patient calls and wants to know what insurances your office takes. This new employee says, "Umm, I don't know exactly but let me find out. Please hold." After asking a more senior person at the office, the new employee gets back on the phone but after putting the new patient on hold for over three minutes, the new employee hears a dial tone. You have now lost a potential new patient.
    • A patient calls and says they need to cancel their crown appointment for tomorrow. The new employee asks if they would like to reschedule and the patient says not now. They hang up and you lose a scheduled crown for tomorrow costing you not only production, but time in your schedule.
    • A person calls and wants to know how much a crown costs in your office. Your new employee pulls up your fee schedule and gives them the price of your crown. The person says, "Wow, that is more than the other office down the street. Thanks anyway," and hangs up. Your office just missed the opportunity to get the patient in to do a proper treatment plan presentation, so the potential patient decided based on price only.

    Related reading: 10 tips for handling new patient calls with confidence

    Hopefully these are specific enough real-life examples to make you recognize how much this mistake is potentially costing the practice in lost production. Even though answering the phone seems easy, it is what happens after the "thank you for calling Dr. So and So's office" that is the problem.

    By now you should understand and agree as to why you shouldn't put a new employee on the phones right away but you might be asking, "what do they need to be trained on before they can answer phones?"

    Continue to page two to find out...


    Laura Hatch
    Laura Hatch is an Office Manager that has started and successfully grown two dental offices and is also the founder of Front Office ...


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