After building a consulting firm that has provided services to almost 30,000 dental practices, I have observed time and time again that practices with excellent scripting experience better results. Dentists are tired of just winging it when it comes to communicating with patients. They are beginning to understand that using scripting as a team training tool would help their staff to communicate more effectively, which would only help grow their practice.
For those who are still resistant to using scripts, I get it. You’ve been talking with patients for years without any problems. In fact, some of you could go on and on (and on!) with your patients. But did you know that scripting is not about simply communicating? It’s about the ability to influence patients to achieve a very specific objective. Scripting isn’t a bunch of random words put together to sound nice, but rather a psychological exercise where every word in the script is chosen to get the best result.
Another misconception about scripts is that using them might turn you into a robot or give off the impression that you have a dull personality. Nothing could be further from the truth. Excellent scripting is powerful and effective, and it allows dental teams to improve their performance on a daily basis. Now that I’ve told you what scripting isn’t, let me tell you more about what scripting is:
- Scripting is all about the patient. Scripts should be completely focused on patients. Never tell patients what they should want. Rather, fully explain the treatment and how it will benefit them.
- Scripting is about energy. A flat, dull communication style will decrease practice results. However, communicating with energy sends a message that you really believe what you are saying and that you’re thinking in terms of the patient’s best interests. Keep in mind that the goal is to achieve specific objectives such as influencing patients to make and keep appointments, accept treatment, and pay bills. Scripting is about improving the day-to-day operations of the practice.
- Scripting is a psychological process. Human nature is the same at every level of society and in every country. People always want honest, sincere communication, and they want to know that you care. Using the right words, in the right way and at the right time, can make an enormous difference in how a script can psychologically affect a patient. As an example, let’s look at the word disagree. It’s a word that can create defensiveness and sometimes cause people to shut down. On the other hand, using the phrase “another way to look at this is” or “let me suggest another point of view” can defuse defensiveness. Same message, different results.
To illustrate the conversational tone and ease of delivery, here a some short excerpts:
- “Mrs. Jones, let me review our four wonderful financial options, and then we can select the one that is most convenient for you.”
- “Mrs. Smith, I know when we finish you’ll want to get going, so why don’t we take care of your remaining balance right now?”
- “Mrs. Wilson, I am delighted that you have asked me some questions about the treatment presentation I just made. Now that I’ve answered all of your questions, would you like to come back for an appointment on Tuesday at 11 am or Thursday at 3 pm?”
Ready to try scripting for your practice?
Make a list of the most prominent conversations that take place in your office on a daily basis. This includes new patient phone calls, scheduling current patients, contacting overdue patients, collecting money, and presenting cases. You can create excellent scripts in each of these areas by using the above principles—with energy and enthusiasm—for better practice communication.
Dr. Levin is a third-generation general dentist and the chairman and CEO of Levin Group Inc, a leading dental management and marketing consulting firm. To learn more about the company’s training and consulting services, visit levingroup.com, or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.