A packed patient schedule at every location is the goal of every group dental practice. And while the events of 2020 made achieving that goal more challenging, the start of the new year still provides a great opportunity to launch a successful patient reactivation campaign. According to a report from the American Dental Association (ADA) and the consumer research firm Engagious, 83% of Americans are ready to get back to the dentist. They just need a little encouragement and reassurance.
According to the latest report of the ADA Health Policy Institute, patient volume in the majority of dental practices in November 2020 were operating below 75% of their maximum capacity. Less than one practice in 10 was operating at more than 95% of capacity. And while the ADA reports large group practices were operating closer to their maximum capacity, keeping the schedule full remains a challenge.
But a new year brings a fresh perspective and with it, a huge opportunity to reactivate your dental patients. In today’s post-pandemic market, implementing a reactivation program makes more economic sense than ever. Just remember that many of your patients may need extra reassurances about safety; and all of your patients will appreciate them.
An average practice has 1,600 patients. Your dental practice group may have several multiples of that number at several locations in the same state or scattered across the country. At least 50% of them need care right this second: a cleaning appointment, restorative work, cosmetic improvements, or an occlusal appliance—you name it. They’ve been to your practices and are familiar with your brand. All you need to do is offer a little motivation for them to get back into your chair.
When was the last time you properly reviewed your approach to answering the phones or the effectiveness of the phone in your practice? Do you find that new patients are calling but not necessarily converting into patient appointments?
The current average conversion rate of new patients calling dentists in the US is 23%, according to a survey by Viva Concepts. That means that with 100 potential new patients calling your practice each month, only 23 will convert into appointments. That’s a painfully low figure and it’s time to change that.
View your phone as a revenue driver, not a utility
Every call is an opportunity to fill your schedule, even if it’s just a caller asking, “Are you open on Saturday?” Start treating your phone as a revenue center and the rest of your team will follow suit.
Start recording and monitoring the types of calls that come in. Track lead sources and conversion rates—marketing got them to the phone, but is the front office effective in converting them into appointments?
It is important to understand where your calls are coming in from and the results of those calls so that you can build a strategy to answer the types of inquiries you’re receiving. Use this to create FAQs your team can quickly refer to when they’re on the phone with a prospect.
Use the recordings for training. Team members will feel awkward at first, but reassure them that it’s something to learn from, not get into trouble for. Once they get over the hump of hearing themselves recorded (no one enjoys that process), there’s a lot that can be gained to see where they’re effective and where they’re not.
Learning to handle inquiries better can turn your phone into a full-throttle patient acquisition tool.
How to convert a caller into a new patient
Most new patient calls start with a question. Because we know this, we pick up the phone very unprepared to manage what happens next.
Take dentistry’s most dreaded question: “Do you take my insurance?”
You probably have a scripted answer along the lines of: “We participate as an out of network provider and we’re able to file your benefits. We have other people who come in with your insurance.” Right now, all the patient hears is “No”.
What happens next is that there’s a gathering of information that feels like an interview involving some unnecessary questions rather than a genuine offer to solve their issues.
The fact that the patient is on the phone means that they’re looking for information and a personal connection. Look for ways to move the conversation forward—your goal is to get the patient in the door so that your team can wow them in the office with great patient care.
Here’s a framework created by Genevieve Poppe, CEO of practice consultancy Poppe Practice Management, to help you and your team convert new patient calls into appointments. (It was first shared in a webinar as part of RevenueWell’s Practice Perfect series.)
Step 1: Welcome
Start with a warm and friendly greeting. First impressions matter. Smile, because they can hear it in your voice and will find you interested and genuine.
“Thank you for calling (practice name). This is (your name). How can I help you?”
Then comes the inquiry:
“Do you take my insurance?”
“How much do you charge for this treatment?”
Put a pin in the question.
“I’ll be happy to check on that for you. What’s your name?”
Getting their name is the first step to establishing a connection. Use it often and express interest in them—your goal here is to get to know them and their expectations. To determine if the caller is a patient of record, ask “When was the last time you visited us?”. This way, they won’t be offended in any way.
Step 2: Connect
We all have a new patient sheet with a series of questions that need to be answered, but these tend to elicit only yes/no answers. There are ways to get answers to your questions in a way that feels nicer to the patient. Make it conversational.
Use open-ended questions to get them talking. Use “Tell me…” statements, as in “Tell me what we need to get you in here for?” or “Tell me about this implant you need.” This approach can provide additional details that can help in treatment. Knowing just a little bit more about them puts you in a better position to answer their queries and provide them with a solution appropriate to their situation.
Step 3: Solution
Now that the caller is comfortable and you have enough information, start focusing on how the practice can help. Circle back to their question: “Now I know you wanted to know if we take your insurance, so let me tell you how we work with that plan.” This statement works whether you’re in-network or out of network.
Frame your answers in the most positive way possible and speak to what your practice can do for the patient.
Don’t be a commercial for your practice and start listing five hot button points on why it’s great. You’ve spent time talking to the caller, so you’re equipped to give them the one good reason to choose your practice. Give them a solution and begin to close the conversation.
Step 4: Close
Here’s where you move them to action. Offer the appointment. You’d be surprised how many forget this single most important step. Extend a free consultation instead of an over-the-phone quote.
“Let’s do this… let’s get you in, gather all the information we need, and make a game plan. How does that sound?”
When the patient says yes, that’s when you start to take down details.
“Bear with me for one more minute. I just need some information to get your chart ready for you.”
Ready to step up your game and win more patients over the phone?
Knowing how to talk to a potential patient on the phone can make all the difference to your practice schedule and bottom line. People respond positively when they feel heard. And it helps when you’re genuinely having fun talking and connecting with them. Set your practice apart from the others by giving your prospects excellent service on the phone.
There are further steps you can take to ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities such as investing in a voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) system like RevenueWell Phone. With over 80 features that include customized greetings or special messages when you’re closed as well as call recording and monitoring, you can start driving practice growth with your phone.
How RevenueWell can help
With practices in multiple locations, working through your entire database of inactive patients will seem daunting. This is where RevenueWell Enterprise can help.
RevenueWell is uniquely known for its ability to read significant data and ADA codes in your practice management system to target and communicate with patients for reminders, recall, treatment, reviews, and more to increase production based on their specific needs, while streamlining operations. Whether you are managing 10 or 40 practices, you can send a single marketing campaign completely customized to each specific location.
Knowing what works and what doesn’t is critical when it comes to marketing. RevenueWell tracks every campaign sent. It provides data on email opens as well as appointments and revenue generated so you can adjust your approach, if necessary, to do more of what works and stop wasting time on what doesn’t—increasing the effectiveness, measurability, and ROI of your marketing.
Want to learn how RevenueWell Phone can help you grow your dental practice? Request a demo today.