I learned how to answer the phone and speak to customers in a professional manner when I was just eight years old. My dad was a self-employed wedding and portrait photographer. He ran the business out of his home studio for more than 40 years. Hence, my childhood was filled with customers calling at all hours of the day and night to schedule appointments.
These were the days before caller ID and just about anything digital, so I frequently answered our home phone in hopes it was a friend calling to invite me somewhere fun. Inevitably, I spoke to a whole lot of soon-to-be brides, real estate agents, and medical professionals who needed to update their headshots.
Since photography was our family business, Dad taught me how to answer questions and book appointments for people instead of yelling down the hall, “Hey Dad! There’s a customer on the phone!” He was busy taking pictures, meeting with clients, and putting together wedding albums six days a week. I guess he figured it couldn’t hurt to put his kid to work and increase productivity with a free office assistant.
I learned a few things from my early days as a telephone receptionist and appointment setter that you can apply to your dental practice today:
- Customers (and patients) want to schedule appointments whenever it’s convenient for their schedule, not yours.
- It takes time and effort to talk with clients in a friendly demeanor – regardless of what’s going on around you.
We eventually got a second line with a new number for our private use and transferred the old number to a business phone. Even though my dad’s office was on the other side of the house, we would still hear his business line ringing at night, on weekends, and even during holiday dinners. (I’m pretty sure that’s when most people get engaged and plan weddings.)
The bottom line is that people simply want to make appointments whenever the thought pops into their head – and it’s not always during normal business hours.
The average time to book a new appointment over the phone is more than eight minutes.
Each time someone calls to schedule a cleaning, a root canal, or to inquire about becoming a new patient, you have to stop what you’re doing and give your full attention to the person on the other end of the phone. On average, that’s over eight minutes per phone call. Multiply that by the number of calls your office gets every day and that’s hours of time spent just on scheduling patients.
That’s not the most efficient use of your staff’s time. As a busy dental practice manager, you have face-to-face patients to handle and COVID protocol to adhere to, all while keeping productivity humming along. Thanks to today’s technology, running a thriving dental practice in the 21st century can be a whole lot easier than it was to run a small photography business in the 80s.
Give your patients what they want: Online scheduling
Today’s patients want to text their doctor’s office and schedule online. After all, we can order anything we want, any time of day or night, and have it show up on our doorstep within days – or even hours – so why wouldn’t we want to make our dental appointments the same way? We do.
In fact, this infographic shows that more than 50% of patients are unhappy with how difficult it is to make a doctor’s appointment, and more than 60% of people surveyed want to be able to communicate with their providers – including scheduling, appointment reminders, and even paying their bills – online and through text.
When you embrace a customer-centered philosophy of scheduling, you’ll actually increase your office productivity by alleviating all those time-consuming phone calls. Letting your patients make dentist appointments online also means higher patient satisfaction right from the get-go. When patients can access your online schedule and request an appointment through their phone, tablet, or computer any time day or night, you’re keeping the doctor’s schedule full and your people – staff and patients – happy.
A quick, easy booking experience means patients are already in a positive mindset when it comes to your practice. And when you continue that patient-centric experience in the office, they’ll tell their friends and family to call your practice next time they need a friendly, forward-thinking dentist whose scheduling technology is up to speed in the 21st century.
Are you ready to schedule appointments while you sleep and boost productivity in the office?
Check out this helpful blog post:
Learn about easy, customizable online scheduling: SR Schedule