Onboarding new patients and retaining the existing ones commences with an effective and smart front desk of any dental clinic. A professional countenance of the front desk not only ensures higher confirmed appointments but increases the referrals as well. As we know, getting a new customer is an expensive affair and all marketing campaigns and referrals are unproductive unless they can bring the patient to the dental chair. today Dental clinics feature among important and considerably big businesses and similar to any other large business, customer experience is the key to success for Dental clinics as well and a professional Front Desk is an important ingredient of the entire customer journey.
Dental Front Desk is a complex job as it not only responds to phone calls but also performs the second biggest job of getting new customers onboard (first one obviously being the physical patient care). The success of a Smart Professional Desk depends on a combination of highly trained personnel and smart technology. Dental Front Desk has to be significantly efficient to leave their footprints in this crowded market- They not only have to do different things but also have to do regular things differently to bring success for their clients. Read on for a few pointers which can make your FD perform with excellence and efficiency.
Prompt response: Prompt response is the key to any communication; every call should be answered within a couple of rings. Caller should be welcomed with “thank you for calling the clinic of Dr David, this is XYZ how can I help you”.
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language”- Dale Carnegie. Calls from all people who have called earlier (existing customers or otherwise) should be greeted with their first name, along with a thank you for calling our dental clinic. This will not only create immediate positive vibes but can also help in breaking the ice. A good Data Management System should be able to retrieve a patient’s name from the database before a call is answered.
Respect and attention: First time callers are usually not the loyal customers of the clinic and unless and until they get an amazing first experience, it would be difficult to onboard them. Though all customers should be given due respect and attention to their needs, new patients should be handled with utmost care and sensitivity.
Missed calls: Every single unanswered call is a missed opportunity!! As per the data, average dental clinics are not able to answer almost one third of the calls from new patients which were initiated through marketing campaigns. 87% of the new prospective patients will not leave any message or call the clinic again, if their call was transferred to voicemail. Dental Front Desk must strictly follow the protocol of no missed calls. Calls landing during lunch hours are also to be promptly answered so that every opportunity should be utilized for increasing the revenue of the Dental Clinic. In case of a missed call, the patient should be called asap.
Different reach channel: With the advent of new technology, new communication avenues are available and prospective patients can approach the Dental Clinic through website chat widgets, Whats App chat or any other social media connection. Every message must be treated as important irrespective of the platform or the medium.
Most of the calls in a Dental Clinic are made either for an appointment or a cancellation. Cancellation should be avoided as far as possible by politely offering the new appointment as per the patient’s ease and convenience or by suggesting a solution for the issue because of which the cancellation request was raised by the patient.
Dental Clinics have to be proactive with the process of appointments. Every patient should get a call from the Dental Clinic on the day prior to the appointment as a reminder and also for getting a final confirmation from the patient. In case any patient has a challenge with the date or time of the appointment, a fresh appointment should be offered immediately.
Training in dental parlance: A new joiner cannot successfully operate high end machines of the Dental Clinic without detailed training, similarly anyone joining the front desk without adequate training cannot make a successful receptionist. Detailed and regular training imparted by the experienced professionals is required before a person gets the opportunity of getting his first call from the patient. In the absence of a physical meeting, the importance of a professionally trained front desk becomes critical as the voice of the receptionist becomes the first face of the Dental Clinic. FD has to be proficient in using dental parlance to understand the dental problems and discuss treatment procedure
Smile: “A smile is the universal welcome” A caller can make out the smile on the face of the receptionist even on a telephone call, every call has to be attended and greeted with a big smile on the face of the person who receives the call.
Collecting maximum information in minimum time: Time is money for the customer and also for a Dental Clinic. Front Desk should be able to collect complete information required from a patient in minimum possible time. Information is to be simultaneously fed in the data management system so that the saved time can be utilized in attending a greater number of patients.
Minimum hold time: None of us like when our call is put on hold for multiple times or even for longer minutes. Frequency of “call on hold” has to be a rare phenomenon, similarly the time of “call on hold” has to be minimum so that the patient does not feel lost or offended. Once a patient drops during a call, chances of him calling again would be rare. If the hold frequency or time is going up, reasons should be identified and addressed on an immediate basis.
No predefined script: Dental clinic is similar to any big business but unlike other businesses, Dental Clinic deals with human lives and the service involves physical patient care. Since every individual patient is different, a single script does not fit for every patient. The Front Desk team should be able to adapt to the requirements of different patients and ask the relevant questions. The responses from the desk should be honest and empathetic.
- Listen more, ask less – Listen more about the need of the customer and ask only the relevant and pointed questions
- Energetic and attentive- Receptionist has to be energetic and genuinely interested in the customer and its concerns. Active listening can not only help with the customer sharing the precise requirements but can also increase the stickiness of the patient.
Handling Emergency : Emergency is a time when a patient needs the doctor without any delay. Handling an emergency case is a tough job and it becomes all the more challenging during non-working hours. The Front Desk Receptionist has to be sensitive and should follow the protocol on connecting the customer to assigned doctor(s) but at the same time, the desk receptionist should be able to segregate the real emergency calls from all other calls citing emergency needs. This will ensure that the real emergency is attended on priority and also the doctors are not disturbed by every call where the patient cites an emergency.
Out of office hour calls : Any Front Desk can have long working hours but customer calling at out of office hours calls should not be missed. They should be welcomed with a warm message and all calls received during out of office should be returned at the earliest.
Never say No: The easiest job is to say “NO” to a patient for any non-workable proposition or coverage but no one wants to hear a blunt “NO”. Instead of losing a patient outrightly, soft skills can be used to make the customer agree to the best possible and available terms.
No call to end without trying for appointment – Every call should have an objective and appointment should be tried in each and every call. The Front Desk team should be assigned targets for percentage conversions. Before closing any call, referral sources should always be noted.
Data Management and Technology –Every call must be recorded and details of every caller should be noted. Recorded calls and reports to be retrieved whenever required for audit and practice purposes. A performance scale to be followed where the scores can be given on the basis of predefined criteria. Every call should be analysed on the basis of the performance scale. Appropriate actions to be taken for the improvement of scores. Analysis of missed calls, calls on hold, call drops and percentage conversions should be a part of call audits. Productivity and the time management of the front desk should be reviewed periodically to maintain the consistency of efficiency levels
What is to be avoided by the Front Dental Desk – A few noes can help with the enhancement of customer experience
Never talk about another patient
Discussion about the fees / procedure charges of the clinic
Suggestions to buy insurance
Arrogant or disinterested ton
Never be critical or sarcastic
“You only have one first chance to make one first impression that lasts a lifetime”- Nas. A good first impression of Front Desk can go a long way in customer satisfaction. A satisfied patient will not only have a long-term relationship with the clinic but will also help with referrals as well.
Across the world, dentists are facing immense competition and acquiring a new patient has never been more difficult than what it is today. Efficiency of the Phone Front Desk can enhance the experience of patients which can lead to better conversions and thus ensuring higher revenue for any Dental Clinic.