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3 Keys to Convert More Calls Into New Patients

3 Keys to Convert More Calls Into New Patients

Every call your dental practice receives from a prospective patient potentially represents thousands in appointment revenue, plus untold additional revenue from referrals. So, in a fiercely competitive dental market, knowing how to convert more calls into new patients naturally represents a valuable front-office skill to increase practice profitability. Yet according to Dentistry Today, “Four out of every 10 appointment opportunity phone calls slip through the cracks as a result of poor phone skills.”

The good news: Even a small increase in call conversions can have a big impact on production. For example, in a case cited by Oral Health Group, a 10% increase in call conversions resulted in an annual revenue increase of $152,000 for a practice.

To help convert more calls into new patients, here are three best front-office practices:

1. Ask for a Caller’s Name

In a recent Salesforce survey, 84% of people said that being treated like a person—not a  number—is very important to win their business, and one of the simplest ways to do this is to ask for a caller’s name and use it during a conversation (without overdoing it). As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “A name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs.”

At the same time, using a potential new patient’s name reflects favorably on your entire dental practice. As noted by SalesFuel, “Just by saying someone’s name, you appear more empathetic and caring in his or her eyes”—qualities especially important for people who may be experiencing dental anxiety.

2. Minimize Wait Time for Callers on Hold

For callers on hold, Tom Petty said it best. The waiting is the hardest part, and most callers aren’t willing to wait for long. According to data cited by Dental Economics, “15% of callers put on hold will hang up right around 40 seconds,” and the longer people have to wait, the higher the abandonment rate. Velaro recently found, for example, that almost 60% of people will hang up after one minute on hold. So, if you can’t immediately speak with a potential new patient, take their call as soon as possible.

Along with this:

  • Ask permission before placing a caller on hold. Rather than saying something abrupt like “Dr. Dental’s office, please hold,” phrase a greeting in the form of permission, such as, “Dr. Dental’s office. Do you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?” Then wait for their reply. Callers may not like being on hold. Yet a small consultation prior to putting them on hold lets them know you’re considerate of their feelings and helps minimize wait-time impatience for potential new patients because they’ve chosen to be on hold.
  • Check back with potential new patients on hold within a specific amount of time to let them know they haven’t been forgotten. If a long wait time is unavoidable, apologize to callers for the continued hold and give them options like continuing to hold or calling back later. Then thank them for their understanding. Consideration and respect can go far in ensuring they do call back.

 

3. Ask for the Appointment

Marketers convert people to clients by asking them to take an action (e.g., “Click here to order”), and the same principle applies to dental practices.

By virtue of calling, a prospective patient naturally has an interest in your practice. So, after you’ve determined your practice can meet a potential patient’s needs, ask them if they’d like to book an appointment.

If someone can’t immediately do so and you have ProSites online appointment booking (or something similar), explain to potential new patients that they can easily make an online appointment directly from your practice website once they’re ready. This convenience, which most patients now want, gives callers an easy open door to your practice after a call has ended.

As noted by Dentistry IQ, “With online scheduling, patients can make an appointment when it’s convenient for them, no matter where they are or what the time of day.” That’s the other piece of the phone-call equation when it comes to winning new patients.

Some prospective patients may not call your practice (even though they need a dentist) because they don’t have time to make a call. With online appointment scheduling, you provide prospective new patients with options they’ve come to want and expect from any business—and increase opportunities to convert calls you didn’t even know you were missing.

>> Read more about ProSites online appointment booking