The Real Purpose of the New Patient Phone Call

Roger P. Levin, DDS

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New patients are the lifeblood of any practice, and almost every new patient has their initial live interaction with a member of the practice team during the new patient phone call. Most offices focus on structuring the new patient phone call to welcome the new patient, make an appointment, and get the necessary information.

This is not bad, but nor does it build value. It is more of a rote or perfunctory behavior where the staff member goes through the standard motions while being nice to the new patient caller. But again, it does not build value. Building value in the new patient phone call becomes critical if there is an emphasis on increasing new patient production.

The primary objective of the new patient phone call should be to build value, and this can be accomplished while also making the appointment and deriving the necessary information. These logistical aspects should be wrapped into a value-based process where the new patient caller comes away with more information, motivation, and excitement about the practice than before they made the call.

As always, scripting is essential. The first step in creating any script is to make a list of key points you want included in the call. These should include:

  • Communicate the brand of the practice: What do you want to be known for? If you want to be known for high-end dentistry, family dentistry, convenient hours, excellent location, participating with all insurance plans, participating with no insurance plans, or so on, your brand statement should be created and communicated to every new patient.
  • Express the high level of customer service that can be expected: Welcome them. Let them know that you enjoy meeting new patients and that the practice will do everything possible to create a wonderful experience for them.
  • Focus on convenience: People will no longer tolerate inconvenient appointments, which often lead to no-shows. Let the patient know that you would like to find a convenient time and then work to achieve that result.
  • Be sure to ask who referred them and compliment the referral source: The new patient thought enough of the referral source to call your practice and make an appointment, so when you complement the referral source, which is often a family member or friend, it reinforces the positive nature of the practice.
  • Engage the new patient in conversation: Anything you can learn about the new patient can be added to the patient record and used in conversation when the patient comes to the office. The more conversation you have with a new patient, the more likely they are to keep the appointment and accept recommended treatment once it is identified. The goal is ultimately to make your patient your friend, and the new patient phone call is the beginning of that process.
  • Finally, be sure to ask the patient if they have any questions: You don’t want them hanging up and then thinking about things they might want to have asked. They may want to know about their insurance or whether you have certain services. By working through questions with the patient, you develop value and a positive relationship.

If you turn these points into a script and ask the front desk team to use it every time with new patients, you will be guaranteed to be imparting a much higher level of value that will result in higher production, higher referrals, and more satisfied patients. And keep in mind that new patients have the highest production of all patients in the practice.

Dr. Levin is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on dental practice management and marketing, he has written more than 60 books and more than 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the United States and around the world. To contact Dr. Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com

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