An underused tool for the phone, FAQs for patient phone calls can help your dental office stay agile and turn callers into patients.
The average office receives hundreds of patient phone calls every week. And nearly all of them start with questions — Is your office in network? Is there a rescheduling fee? Do you offer whitening sessions?
For years, phone scripts have been a tried-and-true solution for these questions. But as dental teams become more versatile, FAQs for patient phone calls may be the "every person" tool that gives more team members the chance to turn uncertain callers into enthusiastic patients.
FAQs and phone scripts have a similar goal. They both aim to help team members connect better with patients on the phone so they can schedule the care patients need or want.
And while both FAQs and scripts take the same approach — by helping teams stay on message, these tools do differ in some significant ways.
FAQs equip the entire team with the right info for your patients' most common questions. Get your free FAQ template for the phone below!
Phone scripts are the traditional tool to up a team's phone skills. Specific and direct, they give the team the exact language and tone to use on the phone.
For someone who’s never had to engage with patients at such a great volume, a phone script is a savior. Without one, a new team member would likely be completely lost or, worse, provide information that turns the patient away!
That said, phone scripts do pose some challenges:
In the hundreds of calls your offices receives, your team probably answers the same dozen or so questions.
Reciting the script perfectly in real time for all these crucial acquisition questions is tough, and it can take a decent amount of time and effort to get it just right.
It's also not hard to imagine a team member forgetting key passages or confusing scripts when the call volume goes sky high.
Memorization means you can recall information word for word, number for number. It doesn't necessarily mean you understand it or can apply it new ways creatively and spontaneously.
Think back to school when you had to memorize the names of capitals for a test. How quickly after the exam did you forget them all? Right after you turned in the test?
The same goes for memorizing the script. If you asked a team member to answer questions covered in the script, they may not truly grasp the rationale behind them. Memorization just isn't the most reliable way to develop understanding. It's limiting.
With resources stretched thin, more dental practices see the need to cross-train teams so they have a squad that's deft in many tasks, even those outside their normal day-to-day activities.
It’s no longer solely the front desk who can answer the phone – when offices are in a real pinch, even a dental assistant can own the phone.
But in a cross-trained office, it’s unlikely every trainee can remember multiple scripts they skimmed a couple weeks ago.
They need something that keeps them on message and enables them to answer patients’ questions quickly and confidently.
Whereas phone scripts focus on only a few topics and restrict who can answer the phone to those who memorize them, FAQs for patient phone calls do the opposite. They empower the entire team with all the information needed to turn callers into patients.
If your office relies only on scripts, you could find yourself in a jam when somebody calls out on short notice.
Unless the replacement on the phone is a memorization wizard, they'll have to scan paragraphs of scripts during each call to find the information that the patient needs.
Or interrupt someone in the office for the answer.
In other words, the scripts could leave the patient waiting on the phone, which doesn’t help the odds of scheduling that caller.
That’s where the FAQs come in.
Succinct and easy-to-read, FAQs help you find info you need in a snap. They include only the facts, no pleasantries or fillers.
The logical next question becomes: Which information should the FAQs include?
Nothing is as inspiring as the promise of a new project. But it can also be a little terrifying: a blank page with a goal as hefty as “create FAQs the team can use to acquire more patients on the phone” can rev up the analysis-paralysis jitters a bit.
Luckily, you have a lot of resources to help you choose your FAQs.
One credible source on this topic – the team right behind you.
The folks at the front desk and in the operatories interact with patients constantly. They hear all the questions and concerns patients have.
During your next huddle, hand out a sheet of paper to each team member, and ask them to list the five questions they hear most often. Then, once you receive their answers, categorize them by topic (like reimbursement or rescheduling) and consolidate the similar ones, choose the recurring questions, create the FAQ document, and share it with the team.
It's a lot of work, but you’ve got yourself your first set of FAQs for patient phone calls!
If you want a more scientific approach, you can log the questions and concerns patients have over the phone in real time.
To do this, ask the team member answering the phone to write down every question they receive and add a general topic to it.
For example, if a patient asks about whether you accept their insurance, the team member could jot down, “Do you accept my insurance? – Insurance/Billing.”
Full admission – this can be a time-consuming project, and the team member on the phone may not jump at the opportunity to do this.
Not only will you need to log every question and concern, but you’ll also need to tally the results, consolidate similar questions, find the most commons ones, and then toss them into the FAQ document you created.
“Create FAQs to use for the phone” is probably a to-do that will quickly fall down your list of priorities. After all, you’ve got patients to reach out to, custom campaigns to send, and burgeoning careers to develop.
To make it a bit easier for you, we created an FAQ template you can fill in without having to poll the entire office or account for every single phone call's topic.
Our template addresses some of the most common questions patients ask, like:
Filling out FAQs is a bit of a delicate balance.
On one hand, this sheet is a guideline for somebody without all the answers. A person should be able to sit in your chair and, on their very first day, answer these questions like a seasoned veteran.
On the other hand, you're creating a quick reference guide. Information should be scannable and easy to consume. Remember: the goal is to not put patients on hold.
So how best to fill it out? To quote John Wooden, "Be quick, but don't hurry." In other words, be brief when needed and expansive when the section calls for it.
Some items — like hours, address, email, and insurance accepted — can be simple line items. In most cases, there's no further details needed.
Other items — like payment options and your policy for rescheduling — require a little more detail. With these, work to be as brief, but as thorough, as possible.
You don't need to give a backstory on why you require 24-hour cancellations; however it may be a good idea to include charges the patient may incur if they cancel inside that 24-hour window.
When possible, use bullet points while filling out your FAQs. Or, if you're a highlighter person, highlight some of the more common sections in order to draw people's eyes there.
Ultimately, speedy information is the name of the game — so whatever makes it easy for team members to use.
Train your team on them!"
But I thought that's what the FAQ is for. What's up with that?"
Hang with us here.
You need to go over the FAQs with the team so they understand exactly what the document entails. It doesn't need to be a half-day training session and carry 3 CE credits. Just something familiarize everyone with this new document.
After all, you're changing up systems within the practice.
Let everyone know the document exists, explain its purpose, and gather any feedback. Who knows, you may find an area to tidy up.
From there, let it rip!
The FAQ should be strong enough to stand on its own, with little more than a passing mention each time you bring on somebody new.
Beyond this, it's important to treat your FAQ list like a living document.
Whenever there's a change to practice operations, reflect it on the FAQ — new insurance plans, updated payment options, holiday hours, etc.
When done properly, this document can live pretty much unchanged. Just be sure to let your team know it exists, illustrate its importance, and update it when necessary.
While your practice can certainly run smoothly without a FAQ sheet for patient phone calls, there's little reason not to have one.
When using our template, they take minimal upfront effort, and pay dividends in spades.
In keeping an FAQ sheet by the phone, you're guaranteed to increase patient satisfaction. You'll answer questions quickly without having to place people on hold and hunt down answers somebody might expect you to know by heart.
A phone FAQ sheet also helps with training. It saves you from spending time drilling info into team members' heads. They can function ably with only a little prep.
Finally, FAQs help maintain consistency throughout the office. A patient receives the same information whether they speak to an office manager, hygienist, treatment coordinator, or anyone else in the practice.
It may seem small, especially since the time investment can be minimal, but keeping a handy list of FAQs can yield major results.
Learn more about how RevenueWell improves case acceptance and creates more close-knit relationships between dentists and their patients.