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, â€śFour out of every 10 appointment opportunity phone calls slip through the cracks as a result of poor phone skills.â€ť
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 Callerâ€™s Name
In a recent Salesforce survey, 84% of people said that being treated like a personâ€”not aÂ numberâ€”is very important to win their business, and one of the simplest ways to do this is to ask for a callerâ€™s name and use it during a conversation (without overdoing it). As Henry David Thoreau wrote, â€śA name pronounced is the recognition of the individual to whom it belongs.â€ť
At the same time, using a potential new patientâ€™s name reflects favorably on your entire dental practice. As noted by SalesFuel, â€śJust by saying someoneâ€™s name, you appear more empathetic and caring in his or her eyesâ€ťâ€”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 arenâ€™t willing to wait for long. According to data cited by Dental Economics, â€ś15% of callers put on hold will hang up right around 40 seconds,â€ť 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 canâ€™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 â€śDr. Dentalâ€™s office, please hold,â€ť phrase a greeting in the form of permission, such as, â€śDr. Dentalâ€™s office. Do you mind if I put you on hold for a minute?â€ť 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 youâ€™re considerate of their feelings and helps minimize wait-time impatience for potential new patients because theyâ€™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 havenâ€™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., â€śClick here to orderâ€ť), and the same principle applies to dental practices.
By virtue of calling, a prospective patient naturally has an interest in your practice. So, after youâ€™ve determined your practice can meet a potential patientâ€™s needs, ask them if theyâ€™d like to book an appointment.
If someone canâ€™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 theyâ€™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, â€śWith online scheduling, patients can make an appointment when itâ€™s convenient for them, no matter where they are or what the time of day.â€ť Thatâ€™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 donâ€™t have time to make a call. With online appointment scheduling, you provide prospective new patients with options theyâ€™ve come to want and expect from any businessâ€”and increase opportunities to convert calls you didnâ€™t even know you were missing.