You have exactly one chance to get everything perfect when a new patient connects with your office. If there is even one perceived slip-up on the office’s part, the patient could very easily decide that you aren’t the office for them. You can’t be everywhere in your office at once, it is best to set some protocols around responses to new patient inquiries to ensure that they are being handled in the manner you wish. A framework for these protocols can be divided into digital inquiries and phone inquiries.
For digital inquiries you will want to check out these items:
- On your website, how easy is it for a potential patient to find the digital form? There should be several touch points for the patient to contact the office not just the last screen they scroll to. You don’t want the patients giving up and moving on to the next dentist on the list.
- On your digital form you will want to ask patient their preferred method of contact, whether it is cell, email or text.
- Have the incoming emails monitored at least every thirty minutes through the day by a designated team member to ensure a prompt response to the potential patient.
- On the digital form you can let the patients know that their inquiry will be answered during office hours.
If a new patient contacts the office by phone you may want to add these points to your protocol:
- Scripts can make a team member sound automated, yet for a new patient call it will ensure that all information is collected in the manner in which you are wanting it. Having a framework for the script allows the team members to create their own script and still collect the necessary information in a professional manner.
- New patient calls tend to be longer than your average patient call. You will want your team member to be able to spend the necessary time collecting information and making a connection with the patient without numerous interruptions.
There are a number of Do’s and Don’ts for new patient calls:
Do say I am so glad you called the office. Most of the times team members are rushed and these calls need to make the patient feel appreciated.
Do answer all the patient’s questions as they ask them, team members can get lost in the information collection.
Do provide an endorsement for the provider that they are booked with “ You are going to love Dr. Amazing, he puts all of his patient’s at ease.”
Do acknowledge their questions by saying “That is a good question ….”
Do finish the call with “ My name is ___________, if there are any other questions you have before your appointment I will be happy to answer them for you.”
Do keep pre-blocked spots for new patient exams so that patients are offered an appointment within a week.
Do send a follow-up email to the new patient after the call, repeating any conversation points and the details of their appointment.
Don’t have silent spots where the team member is completing computer information and leaving the patient with dead air.
Don’t provide a list of all of your office policies, patients can feel that they are being scolded before they even come into the office. You can create and provide softer language for communicating the same idea.
Practice role-playing between team members for new patient calls even if your team feels that it is uncomfortable. If you have a VOIP phone system you can also turn on call recording and use some of these calls as a training tool.
New patients to any practice should feel that they have been heard and are not just another face in the office. Your five-star VIP customer service starts with their first connection to the office. Don’t waste any opportunity!