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7 Phone Answering Skills Every Dental Office Must Have

When you first graduated dental school and opened your practice, you probably didn’t realize how much the call answering skills of your office staff would affect your growth and success. You can be an expert dentist or invest thousands in marketing, but if your receptionist has poor phone etiquette, you’re losing out on revenue.

It’s critical for every member of your practice (administrative and clinical) to know how to answer a patient call with professionalism and care. If you’re struggling to handle calls or get new patients, we can help. At CallForce, we provide professional scheduling and answering services for thousands of dentists nationwide, increasing revenue and boosting production. Read on to learn seven expert phone answering skills every dental office needs to have.  

7 Important Call Answering Skills Every Dental Practice Should Have

CallForce data show that every missed or poorly handled phone call costs dentists an average of $500. Even one missed call a week adds up to $26,000 annually. It’s clear why having excellent call answering skills is essential to your practice’s long-term growth and success.

1) The Exceptional Greeting

You only have one chance to make a first impression. How your office staff answers calls affects whether new patients perceive your business positively or negatively. We’ll give you a quick example of a poor, average, and excellent phone greeting:

Poor: “ABC Dental.” Note there’s no friendly greeting and no offer to help the caller.

Average: “Good morning, ABC Dental. This is (Name).” This greeting is okay but lackluster.

Excellent: “Hello, and thank you for calling ABC Dental. This is (Name); how may I assist you?” This greeting is polite and tells the patient they have your full attention.

2) Develop a Plan for After-hours Calls

CallForce data shows patients are three times more likely to call dental offices on the weekend or after hours. The best way to catch those calls is with a professional answering service. Patients want to talk with a real human being, not a robot, machine, or automated system. A professional answering service is there to answer all the calls your office staff can’t, bringing in new patients you would have missed otherwise.

3) Always Offer the Appointment

No matter what the caller asks, your staff should offer to schedule them an appointment—even for wrong numbers. It can’t hurt, right? Here’s an example of how they can work in appointments for existing patients.

A patient calls because her husband broke a crown. Try this response: “I’m sorry to hear that, Mrs. X. Looking at my calendar, I see it’s time for both your checkups, so why don’t we schedule you both for an exam, and we’ll look at Mr. X’s crown when you come in. How does next Monday at noon sound?” Use the same general tactic to snag appointments for overdue patients and callbacks.  

4) Speak Slowly and Repeat  

Speed and pronunciation are critical call answering skills. Receptionists should speak slowly, enunciate words clearly, and rephrase what the caller said to prevent mix-ups or miscommunication. Be patient, calm, and always have your staff repeat important information twice.

5) Smile and Keep a Positive Attitude

Just like when you call a business, patients can sense when the person answering their call is bored, upset, in a rush, etc. To combat this, receptionists should smile before answering the phone and maintain a positive, upbeat, and polite tone with callers.

Here’s a quick hack: Have your staff place a small mirror by the phone in which they can see their reflection and expression when speaking. Alternatively, put a sticky note on the phone that says, “SMILE!”

6) Hold Etiquette

The correct way to put callers on hold is another vital call answering skill. The biggest mistake someone can make when answering the phone is saying, “Please hold,” then immediately placing the caller on hold. In addition, never put new patients on hold. If you’re struggling with managing the number of incoming calls, it’s time to invest in a professional answering service like CallForce.

7) Dealing with Disgruntled Callers

Upset, disgruntled, and abrasive callers are the bane of every receptionist. It may be hard for them to swallow the frustration and remain polite, patient, and calm, but it’s crucial.

Try phrases like, “You’re right, and I understand how upset you feel. How can we fix this problem for you?” They can also say, “Let me check into this issue, and I will personally call you back when I have more information.” It sounds cliché, but the customer is always right!

Final Thoughts

These seven call answering skills will help your office staff treat every new and current patient caller politely and professionally. If your dental practice is having difficulty handling the volume of incoming calls or struggling to fill up the appointment calendar, opting for a professional phone answering service is an excellent solution. Contact CallForce today at (801) 901-8852 to schedule a free demo with our sales team.

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