At your orthodontic or dental practice, your receptionist is often the first point of contact for most patients. Traditionally, the main purpose of their job was to greet patients in the office, answer the phones, and schedule appointments. But with the growth in this industry, their job has become so much more. Your receptionist plays a crucial role in propelling new patient growth as they take on more of a treatment coordinator role, selling your practice to your clients and potential clients.
Did you know that on average, those looking for a dentist or orthodontist are calling up to five offices before they decide to visit? That means your potential patients are talking to your receptionist and four other receptionists before they bring their business to the one who impressed them the most. This means your receptionist has to really wow every individual they speak to over the phone. They have to act as a salesman to really leave a lasting impression on the individual in order to compete with the other four receptionists they’ll talk with.
This also means every time your receptionist misses a call from a potential patient, whether they’re on the other line, or talking with a patient in the office, that potential patient is going to call the next office on their list. That is where our Wright Chat team shines. With Wright Chat, every incoming call received during business hours is answered and executed by our team of experts.
With so much competition in the dental and orthodontic field, every practice needs to find a unique way to stand out against the competition. Your receptionist is your secret weapon here. In this new economy, your receptionist will need to play five different roles in order to capture the attention and commitment of new patients.
One: Get Patients to Schedule
Because most patients are calling multiple offices, every phone call inquiry is not equivalent to the number of new patients you will see entering your practice. Your receptionist may answer 20 phone calls one day, even if every question is answered right on script, this does not guarantee that the caller will schedule an appointment at your office. Your receptionist has to be trained to go off script and to create a compelling argument that separates you from every other doctor they have called. Most receptionists follow the same script and provide callers with the same answers as their competitors.
Most practices have innately kind receptionists, so you can no longer rely on their kindness to book clients for you. Having a nice, pleasant receptionist is just one piece of the puzzle. Because people are calling up to five other practices, your receptionist must speak about your practice in a way that highlights the doctor, the technology, the staff and the ease of the process. They have to showcase why your office is the place to receive their oral treatment.
As a whole, you need to think of three to five reasons why patients should choose your office, and then teach these same reasons to your receptionist. Make sure these aren’t the exact same three to five reasons other offices are telling patients to choose them. This is your shot to really stand out amongst the competition. Once you’ve nailed down your unique reasons, it is crucial that you relay these to your receptionist, having them focus on the edification of each reason. Edification is difficult to master, but once it is mastered can set your practice apart from all others. Your receptionist has to be able to eloquently articulate what makes your practice better than any other in town.
For example, your receptionist might talk about the perks and convenience of the iTero machine your office uses. Most other offices are equipped with an iTero machine as well, but that potential new patient isn’t going to know that. Your potential patients only know the information the receptionist shares with them. So, your receptionist is on the phone with a potential new patient, and says to the new patient, “Mrs. Jones, we cannot wait for you to see our innovative iTero scanner. This technology completely eliminates the need for those nasty, goopy impressions. We are all digital here which is super cool and convenient. After your scan, you’ll get to see a 3D rendering of your smile, and you’ll even get to see what your smile will look like post-treatment. Isn’t that incredible? We cannot wait for you to come in and see.” Your receptionist just sold that client on the iTero machine, on convenience, on technology, but most importantly, on you and your office.
Your receptionist used what seems like a pretty standard piece of equipment to you, and created excitement in the patient. That patient is now committed to visiting your office. If your receptionist can spark that excitement in them before they even walk through your doors, you will have a patient committed to you and your practice. This patient automatically views you as the most qualified and best business. When you place that value early on, then patients understand why your practice might be more expensive. They know and understand that with you, they are getting the best quality product possible. With you, they can feel good about their investment.
Two: Show Patients that Value of Completing Paperwork Early
After your receptionist shows the patient how unique your practice is, their next step in this process is teaching patients the value of completing their paperwork early. Something you can do to help your receptionist in this effort is to make the necessary paperwork digital and make it immediately applicable to the patient’s profile. Having fully digital patient paperwork makes life easier for the patient as well as your receptionist. Once you’ve gone digital, your receptionist can use that as another aspect that sets your practice apart from others.
“Mrs. Jones, I know most other offices have you come to your appointment 15 minutes early and hand you a clipboard with paperwork to fill out, but here, we are dedicated to innovation and convenience. We’re going to send you some important paperwork to complete, but it is all digital. If you complete this paperwork ahead of time, our doctors and assistants will be able to study this information and will be prepared to provide you with the best possible care. Do me a favor and get that paperwork done today, okay? It will help the first appointment run smoothly and allow us to verify your insurance right away. When you step into our office for your first appointment, you’ll be ready to go right back into the doctor’s chair!”
When you utilize verbiage like the example above, your patients are going to understand the importance of that paperwork and because you’re making the paperwork completion process so simple, they are actually going to be motivated to get it done right away. With this verbiage, your receptionist showcased how convenient and digital you are. This verbiage also combated the number one reason patients usually neglect paperwork; they think it is a joke! Think about it, when you ask a patient to fill out very important and necessary paperwork, and they take the time to do so, only for you and your staff to ask the exact same questions over again as if they don’t already have access to this information? Patients don’t take paperwork seriously, because oftentimes those asking them to complete it don’t take it seriously, either. You will instantly set yourself apart from other practices if you can get your patients to fill their paperwork out early and if you can then properly respect and honor their appointment time.
Now, because your receptionist has offered up very unique information and provided the patient with a smooth onboarding process, your patient will think you are the only practice with advanced technology, with digital paperwork and with a process that allows them to start treatment at the first appointment. The easier and simpler the onboarding process can be, the more hooked your potential patient will be. Your patient is going to feel valued and think you have made all of this more convenient for them. The reality is, as you know, when patients don’t fill out their paperwork ahead of time, then the appointment starts off in a chaotic mess. If your patient waits until the last minute to fill out their paperwork, then your receptionist is left to complete all of these admin duties like verifying patient information last minute. This takes the attention off of the person the receptionist should really be focusing on, and that is the patient in front of them.
Three: Get Patients to Show Up
This is about more than convincing patients to show up to their appointments. Patients will occasionally have appointments they have to cancel or reschedule at the last minute, but that isn’t what we’re digging into here. This is about getting patients to show up and be compliant in their treatment. It is your job, as the dentist or orthodontist, to provide patients with the necessary tools to correct their smiles, but you can only control so much of their dedication and participation in their own treatment.
For example, let’s say you have a patient show up for their appointment, but they haven’t been wearing their aligners or they haven’t been using their Dental Monitoring app. Those are their actions, so this must be their fault, right? Wrong. Of course you want to blame the patient right away, but you have to extend empathy and figure out why they aren’t being compliant in their treatment. Maybe your teenage patient hasn’t been taking his Dental Monitoring scans because he dropped his phone on the bus and the camera no longer works. Maybe the mid-thirties patient you have that’s been skimping on her aligner wear is a new mom that’s just trying to figure out this new responsibility. There is always a reason your patients aren’t compliant.
There are two sales pieces to provide your patients. The first is to get them to buy from you and once you do that, you have to constantly sell compliance to them. Teach your patients the value of the treatment process and they are going to do their part and stay compliant.
In order to teach patients to be compliant, you can’t a no call no show cancellation. Every practice has them, the patient that called and scheduled an appointment, but then called three other practices and ended up going with the one that scheduled them the earliest. If your receptionist isn’t your ultimate sales machines, then you will lose a significant amount of your patients before they ever even attend their consultation. Think about it in terms of numbers. Let’s say you had 36 no call no show cancellations last year and if you multiply that by your average case fee, $6,000, think about how much money you lost from those 36 no call no shows! Have you ever thought about it in those terms? Have you ever looked at the numbers? You probably haven’t. And you probably haven’t looked at the numbers because you place the blame of the no call no show, or of the non-compliant patient on the patient, rather than on yourself and your staff. Because you are in a commoditized environment, it is a you problem.
You have the power to fix the no shows and fix the compliance issues by significantly training your receptionist on how to sell your practice. Wright Chat’s phone course dives headfirst into the importance of the down time concept. This is the time in between the first phone call and when the patient actually shows up for their first appointment. With our downtime concept and a great receptionist, you can significantly decrease your no call no shows.
Four: Get Patients Psychologically Prepared to Make a Purchase
It is super important for your receptionists to get patients mentally prepared to make a purchase at their appointment before they even show up. One aspect of this is the halo effect. The halo effect basically means a customer or patient shows favoritism to a particular line of products based on a positive experience they had with one product from that brand. If your patient experiences one part of your business, it can very quickly get them thinking your entire business is just like this. So their first impression experience with your receptionist is vital to their view of your entire office. It almost predicts how their experience will go, because once they have this opinion, it will influence their entire experience.
A powerful skill to teach your receptionist is the power or pre-suasion. Not persuasion, but pre-suasion! Pre-suasion is the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it. It is basically how you get people to be sympathetic and loyal to your brand before they even experience your services. Now this is so important because your receptionist can use proper verbiage and delivery to get patients to emotionally buy into your practice before they ever even step foot inside your office.
If your office utilizes these skills, you will see more and more patients choose you over other offices in your area. The other offices will invest more money in advertising, and they’ll lower their prices to compensate for that, but you won’t have to do that! If your receptionist can add these five tasks to their role, your patients are going to want to pay whatever it takes to receive treatment from your office.
While you and your team focus on gaining new patients, leave the advertising up to New Patient Group, one of our other awesome third party companies, just like Wright Chat. New Patient Group has an excellent online and digital marketing team that can handle all of your advertising and marketing. All you have to do is carry out the plan we set before you. Working with us is a true partnership, and pairing these five steps with the advertising and marketing techniques we are already experts on will save you time and gain your patients.
Five: Get Patients to Write a 5-Star Review Before They Even Show Up
You might be thinking to yourself, “How can I get patients to leave 5-Star Reviews before they step foot into my office? It’s hard enough convincing them to leave reviews after their appointments, even the really positive experiences!” Well, it is a compilation of every effort described in these first four tips. The more time your receptionist has to focus on new patients, whether that be over the phone, or inside the office, the more likely that patient will have a positive experience worth sharing.
Google reviews are typically written due to a negative or outlandish experience. People forget to write reviews when they have a pleasant or normal experience. So, even more so than providing a positive, easy experience, you have to give these patients something that makes you stand out from all other offices. Your receptionist has to get the patient excited. They have to get them to schedule, to complete their paperwork ahead of time, to encourage them to show up to their appointments ready to go, to mentally prepare them to make a purchase. Driving these initiatives and leaving a memorable impression on patients is what encourages them to leave a 5-Star Google Review. Think about the best customer service phone interaction yu’ve ever been a part of, and that is what every conversation your receptionist has with a patient should resemble.
Utilizing these tips and leveraging your receptionist as your new treatment coordinator will dramatically increase your patient loyalty and your conversion rate. One important thing to remember is our third party answering service, Wright Chat, already has a team specifically trained to draw in patients, help your practice stand out, and persuade patients to complete paperwork and maintain their compliance. Allow us to take on the majority of your patient calls and worry less about providing your team with the additional training necessary to proficiently navigate calls, handle scheduling, and increase client revenue. We have you covered! Once you free up your receptionist’s time from answering phone calls with Wright Chat, they can then focus their efforts on building brand loyalty with every patient that calls your office. Continue to listen to our podcasts and read our blogs for more tips and tricks to help you stay at the top of the game in this new economy.