- 2 Minute Read -

An astounding number of dentists over-estimate their new patient phone call conversion rates. You might be one of them, and if you are, it’s costing you a lot of money.

This is not to suggest that your phone answering staff are less than professional. It’s to confirm that your staff are human and as subject to human failings as the rest of us.

There are any number of ways that a new patient phone call can go wrong. At SmartBox Web Marketing, we have a dedicated team of Call Quality Analysts who listen to every recorded new patient call, every month, for every one of our dentists. From those reviews comes this list of mistakes that dental practice phone answerers make.

  1. Putting the caller on hold.

This is particularly likely to happen if there’s one staff member answering the phones. On-hold time is the enemy of company success for two reasons. One, attention spans are shorter than ever, and two, quite a few dental prospects don’t need much reason to terminate a call because they really don’t want to see a dentist.

Back in 2013, a company did a study of average on-hold times across different size businesses. The average for small businesses was one minute and 47 seconds. And, the study found that around the 40-second mark, 15 percent of callers hang up.

That’s important to know. Better than one in seven of your new patients may be hanging up and lost to you. To make sure those callers never reach the 40-second mark, you’ll have to staff up or ensure that other staff members take over the call, ideally within 20 seconds or so.

  1. Sounding irritable or distracted

Dental prospects with any degree of dental anxiety will be searching – consciously or unconsciously – for any reason not to make an appointment. If your phone answerers don’t come across as warm, welcoming, caring, and focused on the caller, your prospect has all the reason he or she needs.

You almost certainly haven’t assigned an irritable person to answer your phones. But even bright, sunny dispositions can be affected by stress, and the result can be a lost patient. Most of the time, your phone answerer will deny being short or uninterested during a call, and as far as they know, they’re right. It’s sometimes difficult to realize when we’re irritable until it’s pointed out to us.

  1. Not taking control of the call

The end goal of every new patient call is to appoint the patient. To accomplish that, your phone answerer has to guide every stage of the call toward the goal. Trying too hard to deal with objections gives the caller more reasons to object. Allowing long, wandering stories that don’t lead anywhere gives the caller too many chances to decide not to set an appointment.

Some phone answerers are naturals at redirecting conversations in natural and unobjectionable ways. Those are few and far between. Most people need focused training in phone technique.

When SmartBox reviewed all the new patient phone calls for our Elite dentists during the first quarter of 2016, we found that on average the practices weren’t answering 70-80 phone calls a month during business hours. That’s an astonishing figure, and most of the dentists were astonished because they trust their people.

The only way to know for sure what percent of new patients are actually being appointed is through phone tracking. We provide our dentists with our exclusive Zetetics® phone tracking service. Every marketing piece is assigned a unique phone number that forwards to the practice phones. The calls are automatically recorded and later reviewed.

Your staff may be doing an outstanding job of answering all new patient calls. Or they may not, and your new patients may be dropping like flies through the cracks.

For more information on Zetetics phone tracking for your practice, visit https://smartboxdental.com/zetetics.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.