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    Pick up your phone — every time

    It's the simplest way to make your practice better, so why aren't you doing it?

    While practice management and the business of dentistry can be complicated, occasionally there are very simple solutions that can help build successful practices. An extremely simple one focuses on the phone.

    Does your office phone always get answered? Before you answer this question, think about it. You run a very busy dental office where your number one focus is often on the patients who are already in your office, not the ones or the potential ones on the other end of the telephone. Can you truly say that your phone gets answered every single time?

    New research

    Levin Group research indicates that many practices fail to answer the phone up to 20 percent of the time. And at some practices, this happens at an even higher rate.

    Related article: How phone skills can make or break your practice

    At first, it may seem like a ridiculous decision not to answer the phone. However in the context of busy days, it’s not all that unusual. The front desk staff is always extremely busy multitasking, or have other patients right in front of them who require their attention. This leads to the phone sometimes being ignored if a front desk person feels it would be inappropriate, rude or distracting to answer.

    Receptionist greets a patientI have called many offices where either the phone is never answered or I am put on hold and no one ever comes back. This is a huge risk. If you don’t answer the phone, a new patient may simply call another office or a current patient may become frustrated and put off making their appointment, or just take their business elsewhere. The solution to this problem is so simple it’s startling — just answer the phone.

    Just pick up the phone

    Set the expectation with the front desk group that the goal of answering the phone is 100 percent.  Not 89 percent, 93 percent or even 99 percent. The phone should be picked up 100 percent — every time.

    Discuss what it will take to answer the phone every time regardless of what else is going on. A simple script for patients being serviced at the front desk could be this: Mrs. Jones, pardon me for one moment. I would like to answer this call and then I will either place them on hold or call them back so that I can continue taking care of you. Clear communication like this paired with a positive attitude will allow a path for the phone to be answered and go a long way to making everyone happy.

    Make it fun

    Creating a strong commitment to answer the phone and having fun with it can be powerful. Offer the front desk staff a fun prize if they answer the phone 100 percent of the time and trust them to be the judges as to whether or not that occurred.

    Related article: 3 tips for closing more patient phone calls

    The prize could be a manicure, a box of donuts or dinner at a fun burger bar. It’s a positive, enjoyable commitment that will encourage your staff to work hard to get a great result.

    The bottom line

    Whenever the phone rings, it’s your opportunity to gain a new patient or retain a current one with great customer service. Regardless of how busy the practice may be, pick up the call quickly and be prepared with scripting to present your practice as an excellent choice for dental care.

    Dr. Roger P. Levin
    Roger P. Levin, DDS, is Executive Founder of Dental Business Study Clubs – Dentistry’s only All-Business Study Clubs, the next ...

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