Alexander Graham Bell wanted people to start conversations by saying, “Ahoy-hoy!” before Thomas Edison popularised the use of ‘hello’, which we’ve kept up with today.
If you call Russia, you may get ‘Ya sluchu vas’ which translates to ‘I’m listening to you.’ Or call Italy and you’ll hear ‘Pronto!’ as the standard Italian phone greeting, and it means ‘promptly’ – as in, speak promptly!
The point is – it does matter how you answer the call for maximum effectiveness.
Ahoy just won’t cut it! Just because someone calls your practice to make an appointment, simply doesn’t mean you’ll have a new patient when you hang up. How you answer the phone and handle the call matters.
A phone call is often the very first interaction a prospective new patient has with your practice; it’s also one of the only ways you will personally communicate with your existing patients. It should come as no surprise then, that many of the impressions you’re going to create (or change) will happen over the phone.
Like most Dental practices, staff members answering the phone will be multi-tasking. There may be patients in the reception area, at checkout, or walking up to the front desk for assistance, at the time a call comes in. Balancing each of these interactions is like a carefully learned dance; the more you practice, the smoother and more prepared it will look.
As discussed in the previous article, powerful effective communication is 3 fold: Vocal (tone), Verbal (words) and Visual (body language).
WHY TONE MATTERS:
Your voice is the most important tool you use. Voice is all about communication, but not many of us exercise our voice.
Your tone of voice tells others a great deal about who you are and how professional your practice is. It is important you understand, learn and master how your words are delivered. We all know the importance of communication in the success of any relationship, whether it be business or otherwise.
Communication is the key that allows us to foster great relationships with our team members and patients when it comes to business. When it comes to our patients, it could make or break the relationship. Nobody wants to go to any Dentist, who cannot understand their fears and apprehensions.
Voice tonality will either repel others or engage them, but most are not aware of what their voice is really saying to others. You need to be conscious of how you communicate and connect with your patients – and it all begins with the right tone of voice! You heard that, right! Your tone of voice can say a lot about the feelings that you are trying to express.
Did you know the average Telephone Call Conversion rate for Dental Practices is around 40%? This is an annual statistic. I would say it’s more likely around 30 to 40%.
What I find quite alarming is that most Dental Practice Owners I have spoken to, don’t even know what their Telephone Call Conversion rate is from phone to chair, simply because they haven’t measured it. It’s not their fault – they don’t have an effective strategy in place. I cannot stress enough – it is a learnable skill, that is crucial to measure and implement.
You may ask, why is the conversion rate so low? This is likely because they are not providing adequate training.
As we say in the Dental industry “Where there’s no pain, doesn’t mean there’s no pathology.” If there’s no pain, it doesn’t mean there’s no problem, there may be indeed a deeper underlying problem. Similarly to how we say to our patients, ‘if there’s no pain, doesn’t mean there’s no problem’ – this equally is applicable and the same for us Dentists. This is why I believe wholeheartedly in using unique telephone scripts; to be deliberate in what you say and how you say it. It has to have both emotional and logical components to it.
To be honest, the real conversion rate of your Dental practice should be around 80%. That’s what we have measured. A good telephone script is not just a recital – it’s a unique and meaningful way to engage with your existing and prospective patients, to help them feel safe, heard and comfortable with you as their chosen Dentist.
Now, here’s something every Dentist needs to know:
Nowadays, approximately 40% to 50% of phone calls coming in now are cost-related and most individuals are price conscious. Thus, if you haven’t trained your team to handle these cost based queries, then you are heavily missing out!
ONE THING AT A TIME:
To increase your phone conversion to the 80% mark, you must be trained and deliberate. I have tried this strategy for over ten years and can honestly say – if done correctly, it converts 85% of the time.
So – BE G.R.E.A.T.
Allow me to discuss the first 3.
Get it right from the get-go. The first 30 seconds determines the future of the relationship. Provide them with knowledge and a safe environment for their needs.
Create a common bond of trust. Ask specific questions and show genuine interest and listen to their needs. They must know they are in good hands.
ENGAGE, EMPATHY, ENDORSE
Engagement is very important – no one likes to speak to a disinterested personality. Engage your potential patient and ask genuine relevant questions.
Display authentic empathy, it’s not easy for many people to go to the Dentist, it’s important to be sensitive to their needs and exude empathy.
Endorse your team, the treatment, the technology and the Dentist. Is your team demonstrating authority, credibility and expertise (ACE) of the dentist and the practice?
This is super important to increase your telephone conversions.
IF YOU MISS THESE 3 THINGS – YOU MISS THE PATIENT
Your team needs to know in the first two minutes how to engage, show empathy and endorse your practice. This is critical and should occur before you relay information about the cost of your service or any other information.
My Dental practice, ’Smile Concepts’ in Sydney’s CBD, on average, receives around 220 new patient phone calls per month with an approximate 83% conversion rate.
Several, if not all of the practices I coach, are averaging about 60–80 new patients per month, with the greater ones seeing over 100.
Often, other dentists ask me – what’s your secret? I tell them exactly this: I focus 80% of my time on only 10 Strategies which are my key topics you’ll be learning about in my former and up-and-coming articles shared within this year’s Dental Edge Collection.
Now, the thing to know is, if people are taking the time to call, they desire something. They aren’t just picking up the phone and calling dentists because they’re bored, so ensure your team are fully trained on proper phone etiquette, as if you want to stand out and be different, you need to rethink how you treat your patients! They want to be heard, understood and reassured.
To learn how to convert 85% of your patients using the right tone, ask specific engaging questions and demonstrate ACE, get in touch to see how I can help you train your team at the comfort of your own dental practice. I’ve helped hundreds of Dentists and their teams increase their new patient conversion rates and grow exponentially, both personally and professionally.
Get excited to read the up-and-coming 4th Strategy on Seven-Star Customer Service in the next Edition!
Let me help you succeed and celebrate!
Dr Kinnar Shah
Certified High Performance Coach
Certified Gallup Strengths Coach
NLP Leadership & Business Coach
Advanced Psych-K Facilitator
Digital Marketing Specialist