Effective Dental Patient Scheduling: Part 1 of 3

Getting the “most prepared patients” for cosmetic, restorative and implant dentistry in the door is the ultimate goal of the dental office scheduling process. Of course, identifying those patients can be difficult if certain criteria are not decided upon by the dentist and dental office team to differentiate who are the best-prepared patients.

The following information will make the dental patient selection process more effective; thereby increasing new patient numbers for high-end dentistry and improving smile makeover case acceptance.

Dental Care Visit Caller Discovery Process (Part 1 - below)

The "Fully Prepared" Prospective Dental Patient 
(Part 2 - 4/26/09)
The "Unprepared" Prospective Dental Patient 
(Part 2 - 4/26/09)
The "In Between" Prospective Dental Patient 
(Part 3 - 5/02/09)
Dental Patient Communication Conclusion 
(Part 3 - 5/02/09)

Dental Care Visit Caller Discovery Process

The dental team phone answerer must determine – by the questions asked and not asked where the person is at in their appreciation and understanding of high-end dentistry value. It will also be evident by the tone of the voice or by the urgency of the issue – how “far along” the caller is.

Another key element of the discovery process for the dental office phone answerer is listening attentively for what the prospective patient understands about Dr. Dentist Of Dentistry’s expertise and care philosophy (or his/her brand). Has the prospective dental patient build up any trust in the dentist (you) previous to their first dental visit? This is not easy to do, but neither should it be considered overwhelming to accomplish.

The dental office phone answerer must focus on increasing their proficiency and not dwell on individual situations or missed opportunities. Learning from each caller and new patient call situation, taking detailed notes, and asking key questions is more important at this juncture than interacting successfully on each call. Bear in mind that even a partial improvement in scheduling effectiveness can benefit your dental practice, so there is no reason to rush the process.

The caller will often have many inaccurate, under researched and/or naïve perceptions about dentistry. It isn’t efficient or productive for ALL of those questions to be answered during the phone call. The reality is few consumers can be transitioned unless they are prepared at many levels. The phone call is usually an early point in the preparing process especially if dental marketing has been absent from the prepping groundwork.

The scheduling qualifiers for prospective dental patients, noted below, are more important than the specific questions asked of each caller. The new dental patient, phone-answering concepts, discussed below, will help your front desk person understand the caller’s stage of case acceptance “readiness” and manage calls more effectively.

The caller should know they are not calling “a” dentist; they are calling the Dr. Expert Dentist Of Dentistry, YOU! The telephone answerer must understand AND value this distinction to effectively qualify these dental patients.

The caller (prospective dental patient) must be informed of this distinction, understand it and then "qualify themselves" before they are scheduled for a dental appointment. When they get to the dental practice, the new patient should be guided to the most efficient resource for moving up the “prepared” ladder.

Topics Covered in Part Two...
  • The "Fully Prepared" Prospective Dental Patient
  • The "Unprepared" Prospective Dental Patient 

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