The most overlooked and important piece of equipment in a dental implant practice

Calling priorities into question

Consider this question – what do you think is the most important piece of equipment in your implant practice?

You might respond that it is your implant motor or CT scanner, for example. But the truth is that the most important piece of equipment you have is the telephone. After all, how much use are your – admittedly very effective – clinical tools if patient calls do not translate into consultations and then treatment uptake?

It is perhaps an overused phrase but it is as true today as it was when it was first coined – you never get a second chance to make a first impression. And for many potential patients that first point of contact is over the phone. With this in mind, what do you and your team need to do to make this critical interaction work for you?

First of all – and perhaps goes without saying – your receptionist needs to answer quickly in this fast paced world. A patient caller may wait for 10 rings but they will most likely be a bit fed up by the time they hear a voice at the other end; three of four rings tends to be the maximum that may be considered providing a good level of customer service. This is also true of email enquiries too!

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When it comes to those first few words, your receptionist simply needs to sound friendly and polite while letting the caller know to whom they are speaking. Many a dental patient feels anxious at the idea of visiting the dentist, especially if they are putting themselves forward for a complex treatment plan, so this can be very reassuring. No matter how bad your day is going, deviate from this at your business’ peril!

Clearly, following the greeting, things are going to get a bit more involved, which is why having a telephone script and practising it may reap great rewards. It offers the dental team an added layer of confidence and keeps potential patients on the phone for longer so that you can offer them a valuable level of information.

Consider this example of what not to do:

Caller: Could you tell me please how much one implant costs?

Receptionist: We charge from £950 upwards.

Caller. Thank you. Goodbye.

Chances are that you will never hear from this person again because all you have managed to communicate is the price (which, let’s face it, to most patients is not deemed cheap), rather than the much more important value of an implant.

Consider this instead:

Caller: Could you tell me please how much one implant costs?

Receptionist: I wish I could easily tell you the cost, but the truth is that each implant is as unique as our patients, so first let me get a little more information from you and then we can look at how to move forwards to help you in what you want to achieve.

By doing this, you have started the process of switching the patient’s mind-set from price to value, communicated the importance of each and every patient to the dental team, and opened the door for them to tell you what they want from treatment.

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Follow on appropriately and you may well manage to book a consultation appointment for them with the dentist.

Of course, you can’t convert every patient but if your auxiliary staff are prepared for the more common calls, you will be ahead of the game to offer patients valuable and valued implant treatment at the same time as building the practice.

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