Who is Answering Your Phone?

By Dr. Ben Kacos

April 2, 2024

Many people believe that they should use their weakest team members to answer the phones, but this could not be farther from the truth. In fact, I believe that you should be leveraging the knowledge of your strongest team member. Active listening, active questioning, and emotional intelligence are paramount in converting those coveted new patient phone calls into patients in your clinic.
There are many coaches and consultants that can help you train your team in more effective phone skills; however, I have found the key to any training in the dental office is to become a Chief Repeating Officer. You must harp on the things that matter forever and always, never stopping to remind. Another way to dramatically increase the rate of implementation is to use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and then report on those KPIs on a regular basis. The most useful KPIs are lead indicators; in other words, they are actions that can be counted that lead to reaching a goal. For example, if you want to increase fluoride acceptance to reach 100 fluoride varnishes per month, then you can create a lead measure KPI such as “how many times did you educate a patient on how they could personally benefit from fluoride”.
We can also create KPIs and lead measures in phone skills to help us reach a new patient goal. I am going to share my phone call answering scorecard. We will dive into what these things mean and then the secret sauce behind the system.
Most of the items on the call scoring sheet are self-explanatory, and I will unpack the less obvious ones. We always want to give our name, ask for the caller’s name, and then use the caller’s name as much as possible. The next item is less obvious and is a form of active listening. It is apparent that the caller is looking for a new dentist, but we want to ask them, “What is most important to you when choosing a dentist?” By asking this, we are able to assure the caller that our practice, team, doctor is a perfect fit for them. A black belt-level practice would put this in the patient’s chart so that we always meet the listed need for the patient. Secondary compliments help us form opinions, so if we compliment “our gentle hygienist” or “our doctor is great at getting people numb,” then we are not only assuring the patient that they are making a great choice, but they will actually be influenced to believe their experience was as promised. We never want to answer with a “no,” unless it has to do with Medicaid in my practice, and when we answer “yes,” we always want to follow that up with two positives. For instance, “Yes, we do crowns, and we also have a scanner for not awful, but good impressions, and we even make your crowns immediately, and it will all be completed in one hour.”

Now, the real magic is not in having this phone call scoring sheet but in how to use it. Once your team is trained on the components of the perfect call, you can implement the use of the scoring sheet. I have hired a virtual assistant in the Philippines to listen to all of our calls. She skips all existing patient calls and listens to new patient calls in full. She fills out the score sheet. Each morning, she emails us for our morning huddle our number of new patient calls. This is great info for your marketing team. She also gives us our average call score for the day and then the number of callers that are scheduled. I have regularly scheduled meetings with my marketing team, and some of the metrics that we are most interested in tracking are the number of new patient calls and then the scheduling percentage. All of these metrics are reported month to date and year to date so that you can identify trends related to operations and marketing.
My treatment coordinators review their scorecards daily and know how their previous day’s performance was. If they need further coaching, both of you will know exactly how to help them achieve their highest potential. If you can make sure your treatment coordinators are not only highly trained but also are implementing their knowledge regularly, doing these simple things on a daily basis is guaranteed to increase the number of new patients you are seeing.

If you are interested in learning more about implementable case acceptance strategies and marketing techniques, reach out to admin@peakdentalresources.com for more information on our upcoming courses.

See you around,

Dr. Ben Kacos

Dental Success Blackbelt Coach
Owner Peak Dental Resources

P.S. Want to watch webinars about effective phone skills or ask other real dentists how they handle phone calls? Join Dental Success Network today to access our bank of webinars and join our exclusive DSN Workplace exclusive to dentists to share their experiences and knowledge.