Customers make the purchase decisions and expect to get a warm welcome and prompt solution to his need or the problem and dental customers are no different. If their calls go unanswered, it becomes a frustrating experience for a customer and missed calls become all the more critical when human lives are involved as the patient on the other side of the phone might be suffering from pain and agony, unlike other businesses where only goods or services are at stake. During the time of distress, every patient seeks immediate medical support and if no one picks the phone in the clinic, it might be disappointing for the patient and possibly he will never call or visit that dental clinic again. A clinic might not consider missed calls as the dental clinic’s Armageddon but missed calls might damage the long-term prospects of a dental clinic in terms of reputation and missing of targeted revenue objectives.
Phone Calls are important
Approximately three fourths of the communication with dental patients happens over phone calls. As per one Google study, “70% of Mobile Searchers Call a Business Directly from Search Result” and clicking the call button becomes handy as an immediate reach to the business. Almost half of those surveyed said “the lack of a call option would lead them to be both frustrated with the business and more likely to turn to another brand.” No wonder today almost every decent business not only invests considerable efforts and resources to feature in the top Google search results but also ensures to put a “Click to Call” link on the website to help the potential customers in reaching the business. All this investment and efforts can go down the drain when a potential customer calls and there is no response from the dental clinic.
Missed Calls are Expensive
For a busy dental clinic, one or two missed calls might not sound alarming but this can have a lasting effect on long-term objectives. Initially a clinic might witness here and there free schedules but this can be a beginning of a decline.
As per the data, average dental clinics are not able to answer almost one third of the calls from prospective patients which were initiated through marketing campaigns and eight percent of these prospective patients will never call again. If a clinic gets hundred calls a month from new patients, approximately thirty-five calls go unanswered. Even if twenty percent of the missed callers come back, a whopping eighty percent get lost i.e twenty eight lost prospective patients (eighty percent of total missed calls). Even with a fifty percent conversion rate, the clinic would have got additional fourteen patients in a month. An average new dental patient is worth $900, which means loss of $12,600 to the clinic. If this loss of revenue is extrapolated to yearly count of patients and the lifetime revenue from these patients, the number can be humongous.
Reasons can be many
A common observation in the dental clinic is the phone ringing but the staff of the clinic is occupied with other patients. There might be no dedicated manpower to answer the calls or maybe the clinic is understaffed and the same person has to do multiple jobs and attending the patient in the clinic becomes the first priority therefore he has to ignore the ringing phone.
Lack of awareness among staff about the importance of giving prompt service to the new patients can be another reason for missed calls. Clinic gets new patients daily and therefore the sensitivity of getting additional patients and offering fast response and service might be missing.
Technology is the need of the hour! Without adopting a proper and updated technology, it will be difficult to maintain the level of customer service. Fewer telephone lines, faulty lines or phone systems might lead to missing calls which no one will not realize until someone walks in and informs them about the same. Though phone calls make a major chunk of the communication but the technology has introduced newer media vehicles which a customer might opt to reach the clinic. Unless the staff is well versed with the new generation media vehicles, the clinic might continue losing patients.
Patient calls a dental clinic under distress and seeks prompt response, any call getting diverted to voicemail or even put on hold for long might put off the patient. Calls received outside business hours, holidays or even during lunch hours might get missed and by the time callbacks are done, the patient would have scheduled his appointment with another clinic.
Lengthy phone trees can also be a reason for patients dropping the call. Under distress anyone would want an immediate response and a long or complicated phone tree might test the patience of the caller
Missed Calls can affect the business
Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression” The first-time callers are sitting on the fence whose purchase decision can be confirmed or broken with the response he gets with the clinic. An experience of no response will create a negative first impression about the clinic and will induce him to make a purchase decision with another dental clinic
Cumulative effect of missed calls can be a substantial revenue loss to the clinic. This might not reflect today but the impact of missed revenue in P&L statements of subsequent years might affect the future prospects of the clinic
Missed calls can result in loss of reputation as well. A patient who is frantically trying to get medical assistance will not only be disappointed but can also spread negative publicity as well. With the advent of social media, every person’s reach has gone up to an infinite level and any negative publicity can become a reputation risk. Such negative publicity directly raises a question on the professionalism, capabilities and processes of the clinic.
A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world. Loss of reputation due to one unhappy patient might also lead to loss of referrals. A satisfied and happy patient will not only give repeat business but will also help with many new referrals whereas an unhappy patient will only bring a bad name to the clinic and clinic will also miss out on referrals which is an important source of acquiring new customers.
Maximum utilization of minimum resources is the key to any business. Every missed call means loss of money spent on advertising campaigns for initiating that call. No business can afford to throw away the resources which may otherwise be utilized for the business growth of the clinic. The wastage of resources is not only in terms of dollars but also the man hours as well. Someone has to deviate from his regular routine work and has to call back on all missed calls.
What’s the Solution?
Trained and dedicated manpower for attending calls can be one of the solutions. Clinic’s staff to ensure that each and every call is answered on the first ring. Staff should also be equipped to handle queries and enquiries received through new generation media vehicles. It can be in the form of chats, emails or internet-based calls. Sensitivity towards the revenue objectives of the clinic and also about the impact of missed calls on the overall performance of the clinic is important.
Adequate phone lines in accordance with the patient and call load of the clinic should be purchased. Regular audit of phone lines and the system to check for any faults should be a part of the process. Software can be procured to monitor the details of missed and abandoned calls. A review of all missed calls should be done on a regular basis and corrective steps should be taken to minimize the incidents of missed and abandoned calls. Software can also offer additional facilities for tracking the business conversions as well. Voicemail can be an option for after office hours but most of the patients would prefer to talk to a person instead of leaving the message with a machine.
Outsourcing the activity to professional Answering Services can be a viable solution as they bring specialization on table. Dental clinics might be experts in their own domain but the job of a receptionist is something which a professional answering service can deliver with proficiency. These answering services can offer services for much longer hours including lunch hours. They attend calls on weekends and national holidays as well. Employees of these services are professionally trained and they not only are familiar with the jargons of the dental field but also well versed with the processes of dental clinics. When a patient talks about RCT or maybe filling for that matter, they understand what the patient wants to communicate and can reply accordingly. They offer prompt picking of calls without giving any room for missed calls. They have adequate facilities for monitoring and recording calls and can help with the detailed reports along with insights. Since these services are professional services, they take the ownership of calls for business conversions. Though there might be several companies in the market offering similar services, it is crucial to engage the right one. It is always better to hire a company which, besides being cost effective, offer one month free service to any new client to help them understand their working style and the value addition they bring to the dental business.
There is an immense competition in the dental market and day by day it is getting difficult to acquire new patients. No clinic can afford to miss a single opportunity to get additional revenue, and leaving customers due to missed or abandoned calls is like leaving money on the table.