Use Phone Tracking to Improve Your Appointment Rates

Colin Receveur


It’s sad but true. Your patients have been lying to you.

Your hygienists face mouth after mouth full of plaque and tartar, and yet your patients promise that they brush and floss every day. You see patients with extensive dental caries who swear they take good care of their teeth.

And your receptionists and phone answerers get vague, unreliable answers when they ask patients how they found your practice, though that isn’t always true. If you’re offering discount coupons online, in a single newspaper, or via postcards, you know exactly how those patients found your practice.

If you’re including codes to mention when patients call in, you have a good idea of which of your marketing vehicles your new patients saw—if they remember the code. But what about the rest of your new patients? Research shows that dental patients are notorious for being inaccurate when recalling how they learned of you.

If you don’t know how patients found you, how do you know what parts of your marketing are working and the return on investment (ROI) that each of them is generating? How do you know to reallocate your marketing dollars so you can get more patients and more bang for your marketing buck?

You don’t, and that’s a problem. In today’s market, few dentists succeed by throwing dollars blindly into their marketing. In fact, few practices have the resources to keep pursuing marketing that doesn’t bring them enough new patients.

You may well be attracting far more new patients than you ever appoint.

Let me say that again: You may have patients calling who don’t wind up scheduling appointments. How many prospects aren’t getting converted into more butts in chairs?

Some dental practices rely on their phone answerers to manually track new patient calls and conversions. That works until the answerer has 2 new patients parked on hold while desperately trying to finish with the current caller. It’s a recipe for inaccuracy.

If you incentivize your phone answerers based on a percentage of new patients appointed, they have a disincentive to accurately report the number of new patient calls. You might think that your staff wouldn’t do that. A lot of dentists have thought that.

So, you’re faced with a double dilemma. You don’t accurately know how well your marketing is working, and you don’t know how many new patients are falling through the cracks. You’re guessing, and guesswork is no way to run a dental practice in this era of increased competition and declining insurance reimbursements.

One Elegant Solution

There’s only one way to accurately track your marketing’s performance and to know how many prospects are being appointed: phone tracking. There is a wide variety of phone tracking programs out there. Some are quite good, and the others vary widely on features, reports, and utility.

SmartBox dentists are licensed to use our exclusive Zetetics system. Zetetics assigns unique phone numbers to every aspect of your marketing. When a number is called by a prospect, the call automatically forwards to your practice phone. The source of the call is noted and the call itself is automatically recorded and stored in an easy-access database for further review.

The right phone tracking package will neatly solve your double dilemma. You will know exactly what parts of your marketing are generating the most new patient calls. And, you can review the calls themselves to see if your staff’s phone technique is losing patients. There’s no guesswork—just hard data that you can use to allocate your marketing funds for maximum ROI. 

You might be thinking that you don’t have the time or inclination to listen to every incoming call every month. Neither do our dentists, and that’s why SmartBox has a team of highly trained call reviewers. Call analysts listen to every incoming call every month and identify whether the caller was appointed, which calls were handled well, and which calls were not. You’ll need to consider how the call tracking package will allow you to best identify problems with your staff’s phone skills.

Another consideration is how many and what kinds of usable reports your chosen phone tracking package offers. We provide our dentists with the Monthly Patient Attraction Analysis report in addition to call review reports. We also hold a call to go over the results and suggest marketing changes. And if there’s a need for a deeper dive into a doctor’s call data, we can do it. Zetetics can generate more than 120 reports for greater specificity, from georeports to the time of day of your highest call volume.

Get Tracking

Without a reliable method of tracking the effectiveness of all aspects of your marketing, you’re throwing money away. Without a way to accurately know your practice’s new patient conversion rate, you can’t know how many more new patients you could get every month. Phone tracking provides the data that every dentist must know to grow and prosper. 

Colin Receveur is a nationally recognized dental marketing expert and speaker. He is the prolific author of a number of bestselling books and DVDs and articles on Internet marketing. He’s also an ongoing contributor to Dentistry Today. His company, SmartBox Web Marketing, publishes The Patient Attraction Magazine monthly and works with more than 550 dentists on three continents to help them get more patients, more profits, and more freedom. And, his Patient Attraction System has revolutionized how dentists attract the patients they want to treat.

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