Dental Call Center

Months of Overdue Patients — Just How Do You Get Them In The Office?

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How reaching out to your patients (and your approach) can mean all the difference to shrinking your extensive backlog.

Right now, businesses are reopening, and we’re all getting back to work in the wake of COVID-19 and quarantine. Dental offices are no exception. For many of you, your office has been shut down for months or may still be shut down. You have a seemingly endless list of overdue patients you need to get out of the reactivation bucket and back into the office. I know that the number one question on your mind right now is, “How do I catch up on my patient backlog and compensate for all the lost revenue while my office was closed?”

 

Doing both of these quickly can seem like a tall order, which is why I’ve spent every moment I could since this whole thing began to make it easier and more achievable. And my aims are a little higher than just making up for lost time. I want you to make the best of your reopening so that your dental office can come back stronger than ever.

 

I’ve been working with over 50 different dental offices around the country for months putting together a plan to make this possible. After weeks of discussions, studies, and field tests, we’ve broken down which variables you need to hit out of the ballpark to get through our current post-coronavirus environment with a dental practice that’s thriving.

 

Your top priority right now should be getting your patients through the front doors of your office, and that starts with your patient outreach. First and foremost, you have to make sure your patients feel safe and comfortable coming into the office. I’m sure this seems like a no-brainer since the same was true even before COVID-19, but now it is more important than ever as we finally see the other side of quarantine. How to do this depends on how they feel about our current strange times.

Not everyone holds the same beliefs about our current health crisis. So you need to understand exactly where your patients are coming from the moment you get on the phone with them to schedule their overdue appointment. Typically, patients tend to be from one of two camps about our nation’s response to COVID-19. One side thinks that the coronavirus is a big deal and that our quarantine efforts are essential. They may even believe that we haven’t done enough, and lifting shutdown orders is a huge mistake. Other patients, however, believe the exact opposite, and they think the severity of the situation has been exaggerated a bit too much.

 

It’s absolutely vital that you quickly identify which side of the debate your patient is on. This is as simple as asking them how they’re doing when you reach out to them. How you talk to your patients will depend on which camp they’re in. You need to be like a mirror, reflecting and addressing the level of urgency and concern of your patients.

 

If you’re on the phone with a patient who’s worried and afraid about COVID-19, use this time to shine a light on how much your office cares, and to let your patients know that they’re safe and in good hands with you. Be sure to let them know what measures and precautions you and your staff are taking to keep them safe. Tell them about the CDC’s recommendations, like COVID-19 screenings, masks, gowns, gloves, and restricted patient capacity. Explain how your office is going above and beyond these safety regulations to stop the possible spread of the virus. Maybe you’re using ozone therapy to clear and kill viruses and bacteria or multiple air filtration systems in the patient operatory. Also, don’t be afraid to let them ask any questions so you can directly address their specific fears and anxieties about the situation.

 

However, if your patient thinks COVID-19 is no big deal, then book their appointment like you usually would. Match their level of concern, but let them know the precautions they need to take when coming in and nothing more unless they ask. You might still want to tell them the updates and upgrades you’ve made, but don’t do this. I promise you that patients sitting in this camp will be much happier with your service.

 

Making up for the hundreds of overdue patients in desperate need of hygiene appointments or who were mid-treatment when quarantine went into effect isn’t going to be easy. It can be frustrating at times, especially as you first start getting into the flow of gauging patients’ reactions, but you can’t give up. To make up for lost revenue these past two months, you must continue to book and stack up patient appointments over the next weeks.

 

It will take a lot of hard work, energy, and determination to work your way through the list and get your overdue patients back into the office. However, just as with anything else worth doing, you’ll only get better and more efficient at it with time, as we continue to move forward and hopefully away from the worst of these stressful times. Soon, this will be a smooth and well-oiled process for you.

If you need any further advice or help adapting your office to the post-coronavirus environment, don’t hesitate to reach out to my office and me. We’re happy to help you out and guide you down the right path to getting your schedule back in order and filled. We want to make sure that your practice’s transition is a massive success so that you’re not just surviving but also building your practice up to levels it hadn’t reached even before this crisis began.

Rescheduling cancelled & no-show appointments…

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Lets face it… we are all human, and have a lot on our plates. I am sure every single one of us has forgotten an appointment, or double booked our schedule. So as a practice, how do you take in to account human error?

Here are a few ways to remind patients of their appointments, and encourage re-booking when something else comes up.

1. Call your patients and remind them.

–Everyone needs a reminder now and then, and we find that it works best when it comes a few days in advance. When you call your patients the day or heaven forbid the night before, often times this is too late to move around schedules when double booking has happened, and typically the dental appointment loses in the priority game.

2. Don’t expect your patients to call you back.

–As previously mentioned… people are busy. If you rely on your patients to give you a call when they have a free moment, it might not happen for several months. Have a list of patients to call back and schedule, or reschedule.

At Dental Game Plan, every appointment booked is followed up with by our call center operators when the patient cancels, or is simply a no show. We find that speaking to the patient, that we pursue, allows us to reschedule, find out why the appointment was not kept, and helps us to better ourselves when it was not kept for a specific reason on the office’s part (i.e. not getting an appointment soon enough in an emergency case).

3. Do not be afraid to be tough.

–When extending a promotional deal (low prices) to a new client, do not be afraid to ask them to pay in advance, especially when a large block of time will be held for their appointment. This will ensure that you have a patient booked who will most likely show up. It also is reassuring to the patient that no hidden fees are associated with the visit. We find this works best in non-emergency cases, such as routine cleanings. However when a patient is coming in for an unknown visit, like a tooth ache, it makes it nearly impossible to ask them to pay anything upfront.

–When you have a existing patient no-show, or cancel, remind them of your cancellation policy. Of course use discretion, but when you have a repeat offender, applying a no show fee or late cancellation fee is acceptable. Many offices use a three strike system, and the patients who come to the office are informed on the policy, and warned when they have used up a “strike”.

4. Tracking your results.

–Companies like Dental Game Plan track your monthly results. Each appointment made is followed up with through the office to be sure that the patient made it to their appointment. If they did not, the call center follows up with the patient to see if rescheduling can happen.

Knowing that people are busy, and your office is also busy, makes having a third party company who tracks your appointments and no- shows very beneficial to everyone involved.

 

 

What Your Office Is Really Saying

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Often times when a patient calls in to your office directly, they are greeted with a busy receptionist with a lot on their plate. Most likely scenario is they are probably sitting in front of a patient that is waiting to be checked in or out, and they have 5 other telephone lines ringing to be picked up.

Of course we know your office cares deeply about each and every patient that comes in to see you.  Moreover, you we know you care about the overall customer experience and how that translates to long-term success for your practice in the form of loyal clientele and glowing reviews online.  The question is; are your office staff currently doing what is necessary for you to realize these goals for every, single person that picks up the phone and dials your number?

In our abundant experience we’ve learned that the main reason(s) a new patient calls is to book a routine appointment, an emergency appointment, or get a quote on a service. At Dental Game Plan, our operators are never too busy to answer even the most long-winded questions a potential patient can come up with.  We’re thorough, kind, understanding and above all good listeners — when it’s all said and done our goal is to get them to come in to your office for a new patient consultation or exam.

We like to think of any patient that actually calls in for an cleaning, exam or other routine appointment, as “gold-star” patient. If handled correctly, these patients will be return patients, or patients that show up on your online review sites — and know the value and importance of regular oral maintenance. We typically pass these patients directly to the office to book an appointment, and know a bit of a wait for the appointment will usually not be a big deal.

When an emergency patient calls in for an appointment, we always like to get them in as soon as possible. Sometimes a “tomorrow appointment” will automatically result in a hang-up. Having space in your schedule, every single day, for these inevitable calls is of utmost importance. Though, they are not always return patients, they will know you will be there for them if they need you again.

We know that prices given over the phone are valuable to the patient, but they can often be inaccurate, and exaggerated. Having the patient come in for a free exam is a huge benefit to the patient, and your office.

When you receive a quote for a service, what is the first thing you do? Whether it be auto, home repair, or a medical expense, you typically call around for a second quote. If your office is giving quotes, without seeing the patient, and your quote turns out to be too high, or too low, you will have an unhappy patient, guaranteed.

At Dental Game Plan, we believe the most important thing to do with a potential new patient is relay a general, honest sense of care for their comfort and well-being. We have staffed our call-center with people whose main goal is to be there for your potential patients-in-need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our compassionate operators always ensure that callers know we believe their time to be valuable, that we care about their financial situation and are sensitive to any extenuating fears or anxiety.

Booking a new patient appointment, for you (our client)  is our number one goal; however, we always go that little bit extra, to show callers that our focus is 100% on them  — we want to make that first impression the foundation for a quality long-term relationship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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