Top tips for answering the dental office telephone
Marcus Goodyear | Apr 06, 2023
In the dental sector, answering the phone professionally is one of the most important aspects of the job. It sets the tone for the patient’s experience and can even influence their decision on which dental practice they use.
Good communication with patients is crucial to maintaining a successful dental practice. The telephone is often the first point of contact for your patients. It can make the difference when landing new customers and it’s an important factor in keeping existing patients satisfied. But answering calls to your dental practice isn’t always straightforward.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Before answering the phone, make sure you’re familiar with the dental service’s telephone system. To provide seamless service to callers, you need to know how to transfer calls, place calls on hold, and use other functions of the phone.
Keep a digital device handy to take notes during the call (this will save you repetitive data entry) and get your head around the office protocols and guidelines. Your employer should provide training on the equipment and bring you up to speed before pushing client calls your way.
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While there are things you’ll pick up over time, you should practice with the dental office’s systems before jumping onto a live call. Ask one of the other members of the team if you can have a trial run. That way, when the patients call, you’re already prepared.
Every dental practice has a specific way of handling patient calls. But best practices have surfaced from decades of customer service in an ever-present industry. Those are:
A study titled “Improving Telephone Communication in a Dental Practice” was published in the Journal of Dental Education. The study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a telephone training program for dental office staff and to assess the impact of training on patient satisfaction.
The training program included topics such as effective communication skills, active listening, and handling difficult callers. After the training, the staff’s telephone skills were evaluated through recorded phone calls with simulated patients. The study found that the telephone training program improved the staff’s telephone communication skills, resulting in a higher level of patient satisfaction. This shows that the team handling the calls directly contributes to the happiness of the dental practice’s patients.
Scheduling appointments is one of the most common reasons for a patient to call their dentist. But it’s not the only reason. Here’s some common types of calls:
As a customer service rep, you’re in the unique position of being able to impact how the client thinks and feels. This should be a motivating factor in your day-to-day role.
Read more: Why customer service matters in healthcare
Customer service can be the difference-maker in retaining a patient for years, or losing them forever. Satisfied patients will even travel significant distances to continue being a customer.
However, there are some common mistakes that can lead to customers having a less than satisfactory experience. Here are some key mistakes to avoid:
In a survey by American Express, 33% of customers said the most important factor in good customer service is “not being passed around and having to repeat conversations”. If possible, try and resolve all their queries on the line. And if they need to ring back, keep yourself as the main point of contact.
Answering the phone professionally is essential for maintaining a positive relationship with your patients. Great customer service often translates to a positive patient experience, especially in competitive sectors such as dentistry.
Following best practices can help you avoid common mistakes such as interrupting callers or using unprofessional language. More importantly, they can help you build rapport with patients and help you contribute to a thriving dental practice. By being prepared, dealing with different types of calls efficiently, and following up with callers as necessary, staff members can help ensure patient satisfaction.
Good customer service is crucial in any business. Answering the phone properly is the first step to providing excellent service in a dental office.