Your dental office is hopping and it’s clearly time you called in some help. An answering service can help you keep on top of the call volume, but not just any answering service will do.

Keep these four tips in mind as you interview dental answering service companies:

  1. HIPAA compliance is non-negotiable. When a dental office partners with an answering service company, they make the answering service a HIPAA Business Associate.

    That makes the dental office responsible for what its answering service does. This shouldn’t be a reason to shy away from an answering service, but you should be mindful when you choose one. Find an answering service that does regular HIPAA compliance training for staff and computer software updates and that has a good track record for HIPAA compliance.

  1. A quality customer experience is vital. According to eMarketer’s March 2016 Customer Experience Roundup report, the telephone continues to be one of the most popular ways customers reach out to companies, but it’s also the most frustrating.

    Waiting on hold and being forced to navigate a phone tree were in the top four most common frustrations callers experience, leading 52 percent of Americans to stop doing business with companies that frustrated them. The data has been consistent for some time on this subject — customers want good service, they want a human touch and if they don’t get it from you, they will find someone who will give it to them.

  1. Your business needs are unique. Sometimes answering service companies will try to push you into pre-designed packages that are a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Unless your business is brand-new and you have no idea what you really need, ditch the pre-built packages. Your business is unique and so are its needs — your answering service should be willing to work with you to build a package that will support your dental office today and tomorrow.
  1. Answering services should help you save money. Answering services should help improve your customer experience, that’s absolutely true, but they should also save you money. For example, if you were considering hiring a full-time appointment setter, you’d probably end up paying them for a lot of waiting around for phone calls. The same goes for extra operators or receptionists. An answering service charges by the call or by the minute, so if you only have five calls one day, you’re not going to be paying a full day’s wage to someone for mostly doing nothing. If your answering service can’t show you how its fee schedule works so you can compare it to what you’d pay a regular staffer, keep on shopping.

A good answering service can be hard to find, but remember that price isn’t the only thing to consider. What you should be looking for in a dental answering service is a company that protects your patient information, that provides a great customer experience and that gives you the package that meets your company’s needs without a lot of extras you’ll never use. If they can do all that and still save you money over a full-time employee, sign on the dotted line right away.