Even thinking about the dentist can evoke thoughts of high-pitched drills and metal instruments in the minds of your patients. It’s not that they don’t want to have a healthy mouth, it’s just that the whole process is kind of terrifying and makes them feel very vulnerable. This is why it’s so important to get off on the right foot from the moment that they call to set an appointment.

Make sure you’re observing these best practices for answering the telephone at your dental practice.

Dental Practice Best Practices for Telephone Operators

Whether your office has in-house staff that handles the phones or you have a live answering service handle the task, the details matter. Maybe more in a dental practice than almost anywhere else.

You can improve your patient response dramatically by making sure your telephone operators or receptionists observe these best practices:

  • Set the right tone. From the moment the phone is picked up, the caller is deciding whether or not they’re going to be a patient. Maybe they’re already pretty scared of dentists, so really, they just want an excuse to not come in. Your telephone should always be answered in a friendly, professional way. That old sales trick about having a smile in your voice really does work.
  • Focus on the patient. Dental offices are busy places, but when someone answers the phone, they’ve got to slow down a bit. The caller may have some really important information or a specific question that needs to be answered in a certain way. Turn off the monitor if you can’t resist checking email and put away mobile devices.
  • Consider a dedicated appointment queue. It’s likely that many of your calls are to make, change or cancel dental appointments. Although these are easy tasks when taken individually, the sheer volume and frequency of the calls can make it impossible to do anything else some days. Don’t tie up your valuable office staff, and instead contact an answering service with a dedicated appointment setting tool.
  • Know how to say goodbye. Just like breakin’ up is hard to do, sometimes it’s tough to say goodbye. Not because you’re emotionally attached to callers, but because you’ve never been trained properly in how to squeeze in a professional goodbye. It’s easy with some practice. When the caller’s request has been handled, ask if there’s anything else you can help with. If nothing, thank the caller for calling and wish them a nice rest of their day. Couldn’t be easier!

Going to the dentist can be scary, but you can reduce your patients’ fears by giving them an excellent first impression over the phone. When they call and discover that the people at the office are kind, caring humans who simply want to help them get good dental service, every step that follows is going to be easier for you and them. If your staff simply can’t handle the additional load the phone adds to their work, it may be time to partner with a dental answering service.