16 Mar 2016  •  Practice Management  •  7min read By  • Richard Collard

Ten Top Tips for Turning Telephone Enquiries into Appointments

Your telephone is one of the most powerful tools in your practice, when used correctly! To help you to harness the full potential of yours, Richard Collard from Medenta rounds up his ten top tips on how you can turn more telephone enquiries into appointments!


Get team buy-in

If you want to make a real success of converting more of your telephone enquiries into actual bookings, the first step is to get the whole team on board. Communicate the importance of investigating the effectiveness of practice telephony to the whole front desk team. Explain to them that this review will benefit the ongoing development and sustainability of the business. Otherwise, you may find that some team members take it as a personal affront, making them unlikely to cooperate fully in the accurate monitoring of the data you need them to be recording.


Make use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

So, what data should you be recording? By defining your KPIs, you can see clearly where any issues really lie. A simple way to get started is to measure any new enquiries you receive, where they come from and what happens to them in a spreadsheet. This will make it easier for you to quantify what you may be missing out on in hard cash!

Take two practices…


Each practice attracts the same number of new patients through the door. However, Practice A received 30 new patient enquiries whilst Practice B received 80. This shows that even though Practice A aren’t receiving as many enquiries, they are converting more into new patients, whilst Practice B are attracting more patient enquiries but are converting far less.

Now take two front desk people from Practice A


Both team members deal with the same number of enquiries but whilst Ann converts all of hers into new patients, Bev only converts five, identifying a training need for her.


Have the right people in the right place with the right props!

Reception (both the front desk and telephone) is a battleground for the hearts and minds of your patients. To help you to win, have the right people in the right place with the right props (such as a well designed practice brochure and a clear price list)!


Be in all day!

Don’t make it difficult for potential patients to contact you. The lunch break is the most convenient time for most people to call you and that’s when most practices are closed! To get around this in your practice, stagger the front desk team’s lunchtimes to ensure that there is always someone available to cover this potentially busy time and pick up those all-important calls, so you’re not missing out.


Provide training for your front desk team

Your team need to be able to confidently sell a consultation appointment by promoting the benefits to the potential patient, rather than being drawn into ‘dentistry’ conversations. Providing training to help them to develop the verbal skills required to sell the consultation appointment will boost their confidence and convert more enquiries into appointments in the book.


Define your new patient consultation

Have you clearly defined your new patient consultation and shared this with the whole team? If not, then you should consider your new patient consultation in terms of how long it is, what is included, how much it costs and what it will enable the patient to do. This will build value to the patient and also give them a yardstick by which to measure other practices against.


Visual, verbal, vocal

70% of communicated meaning is visual but when talking on the phone the opportunity to observe facial expression and body language is lost. This makes the verbal (words) and the vocal tone (how words are said) much more important.  Work with your team on key phrasing and encourage them to consider attitude and mood before the phone is answered. By doing this it will impact positively on the responses you receive.


Remember the three Vs

Keeping the three Vs in mind, it’s also important to consider your answer machine message. You should use the opportunity to turn the negative of unavailability into the positive of making a great first impression. When recording your answer machine message, ensure it is:

1. Clear with no background noises and disruptions
2. Pertinent to the day
3. Empathetic
4. Specific about why a call cannot be taken
5. Includes a reference to when a returned call will be made, within a defined time frame.


Prepare your team

When working in a dental practice, many of the questions you’re asked will be ones you’ve heard a number of times. To ensure consistency in the way these questions are answered, ensure your team have some well-crafted and well-rehearsed responses. Get your team together and jot down all of the questions you’re asked on a regular basis and as a team pull together the best responses. These ‘personalised’ stock responses (not scripts) will boost confidence on the phone resulting in a positive impact on the conversation.


Fast track your team to great telephone skills

Boost the skills of your team by getting some help from proven skilled communicators who will be able to help you fast track them to great telephone skills in your practice.


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