Changes You Can Make Today To Double DentalPhone Conversions
You’re used to us talking about website conversion because, well, that’s what we do. We turn website visitors into new patient leads who pick up the phone and call your practice.
But what happens when they call? It’s up to you and your office staff to convert that new patient lead into a new patient with a booked appointment.
As part of our Google Ads service, we use call tracking and recording. This allows us and the client to see exactly how many new patient leads the ads are getting, as well as exactly what the leads are calling about, how the calls are handled, and how many are booked. This data informs future ads and training opportunities for the practice.
So what have we learned after listening to over 5,000 patient calls? That there are 10 important, yet simple, things you can implement or fix today to turn more new patient leads into new patient appointments.
#1. Make “converting new patients” part of the job description
Does your front desk team know that it is part of their job to convert new callers into patients or do they think their job is to answer the phone and schedule appointments? There is a difference and until that shift is made, the rest of these tips will be hard to implement.
#2. Rephrase your responses
A lot of callers are simply checking around for pricing. At one particular practice, we noticed, by listening to two different front office team members answer the phone, what a big difference the subtle rephrasing of your answers can make.
Team member #1 was asked for pricing and said, “Our price for a new patient is $99 and includes x-rays, dental exam, and cleaning.” Every time she answered, they said, “Thank you” and hung up.
When team member #2 answered the phone, she said, “We actually have a new patient special right now. It’s $99 and includes x-rays, a dental exam, and cleaning.” They stopped calling around. They found a deal and booked the appointment.
Along the same lines, when people call in asking about private health insurance, a simple, “No, we don’t take your insurance” is surely going to end the call. But there’s an example of how one all-cash practice phrases it that has been very successful:
“Although we’re not a preferred provider with that particular health fund, we accept all major health funds and can process your rebate immediately with our HICAPS machine on-site. We also have special pricing for non-health fund members if that suits you better. When did you want to come in for a free consultation?"
#3. Ask for the caller’s name
One particular team member we listened to stands out as a rockstar on the phone. She always asks, “Who am I speaking with?” and “Is there a number to reach you if we get disconnected” right away. The caller isn’t necessarily expecting this, but gives her the information. Now, the practice has the name and number of the caller, they’ve shown they want to help even if they get disconnected, they’re invested. This seems to make it much easier to drive the conversation and book the patient in.
Another trait of those who successfully book a lot of new patients is calling the caller by name. Once you’ve asked for their name, it shows you’re paying attention when you use their name later on in the conversation.
#4. Be transparent about insurance
A super busy practice was missing about 25% of all calls to voicemail or voicemail hangups. While listening to the calls, we noticed that 25% of the calls that they did answer were asking if they accepted private health insurance, which they do not. This was time and resources wasted answering a question that could have easily been communicated in their marketing and advertising. By putting insurance info in the ad and on their website, this practice was able to answer more calls that were the right fit for their practice.
#5. Communicate, communicate, communicate
One doctor had a Google Ads campaign running for TMJ, but when a potential new patient called, the front desk was not aware of the offer. In fact, they seemed like it was odd he’d be calling about such a thing. The patient seemed confused and the new patient was lost.
#6. A little empathy goes a long way
The people that are the most successful on the phone have one thing in common – empathy for the caller. A standout example of this occurred during the COVID-19 shutdown. One dental practice was completely booked out given the limited schedule and reduced capacity requirements. But the team member didn’t let that stop her from helping every caller. She rearranged appointments when she could, asked the dentist if he could stay a little later, or, if they really couldn’t make it work, suggested another local practice that might be able to fit them in in the timeframe they needed. In her tone, in her words, in her efforts, the callers knew she truly cared.
#7. Multitasking may cost you
Someone called in and asked for a new patient visit. He did not say it was urgent, but the front desk staff member who answered the phone assumed he wanted to be seen that week. Rather than ask if she could schedule it for another week, she said they had no appointments and gave him the number of someone else. She seemed rushed and distracted.
#8. Lead the conversation
One practice has two team members who typically answer the phone. Team member #1 always answers the phone with “Old Town Dental, this is Anne.” There is an awkward pause as the caller waits for Anne to say something else.
Team member #2 answers the phone with, “Old Town Dental, this is Susan, how can I help you?” While the difference is small, the callers seem much more natural and comfortable on the calls with Susan because she asked how she can help. She opened the door for the caller to speak.
It’s similar to the calls-to-action on your website (“Click here,” “View our services,” etc.). They guide people toward a certain action. You don’t want to make the customer have to think too hard about the next step. And on the phone, it’s even more apparent if you don’t gently guide the conversation because you end up with awkward silence. A simple “How can I help you?” is usually all it takes to get the conversation flowing.
#9. Clarity is important
It’s not uncommon for us to hear staff answer the phone, “Doctor’s office. How can I help you?” Without stating the name of the practice, the caller is taken aback for a moment, unsure if they’ve called the right place. This leads them to ask for clarification, “Is this Old Town Dental?” While it may not be a dealbreaker, it’s not a great way to start a conversation with a new patient lead.
#10. Celebrate success
At times, working at the front desk can feel like a tedious and thankless job. We’ve found that the practices that acknowledge the number of new patients a team member books continue to see great results (and have a happier front desk staff).
You can take it a step further and incentivise your staff to get them excited about booking new patients. Whether it’s an incentive for every new patient or just higher ticket services booked, you may find it motivates your staff to take new patient calls more seriously.
Consider Call Tracking to Improve Phone Conversion Rates
Call tracking is the best way to monitor front desk phone conversations. With this technology, you’re not only able to monitor the content of the call, you can see the rate at which a prospective patient turns into a new patient.
Call tracking also allows you to measure the performance of all your marketing campaigns. By assigning a special number to your business phone line, you can see the caller’s information, the duration of the call, and the source of the call (SEO, digital advertising, traditional ads, etc.). So not only do you get valuable training information from listening to the calls, you are able to see the return on your dental marketing investments.
ACTION ITEM: Contact your website and/or marketing provider to see if they offer a call tracking service.