How a highly standardized and scripted approach to the new patient phone call can ensure prospective patients feel connected to the practice before they walk in the door

By Roger P. Levin, DDS

Every day orthodontic practices receive phone calls from potential new patients. Some have already decided to have orthodontic treatment at that practice, others have scheduled two or three appointments with various orthodontic practices, and there are also people who are not sure whether they want or are willing to pay for orthodontics at all. Unfortunately, you will never know the motivation behind a call before you pick it up so practices should develop a highly standardized and scripted approach for answering the new patient call so that they’re always prepared to convert the potential new patient into a start. Here are five tips that can be beneficial:

1. Give every new patient caller a warm and enthusiastic reading.

Stop any other activity and include scripting such as, “Mrs. Jones, I’m delighted that you called our orthodontic practice. We love meeting new patients and will go out of our way for you and Johnny to have an outstanding orthodontic experience.” This type of greeting and enthusiasm goes a long way toward welcoming the new patient and setting the mindset that they will enjoy being in the practice.

2. Look for any opportunity to build a personal relationship.

If you’re wondering how to do this, keep in mind that the patient calling is from the local community and may have a child that goes to school with many of your other patients.  You may know people in common. Just ask where their child attends school or if they know any of your patients. Also, simple, open-ended questions about where they work or what neighborhood they live in create a back-and-forth communication and information flow that almost always provides an opportunity to find something in common. Once you have established a commonality, you have begun to build a mini relationship that can flourish into a bigger one with the treatment coordinator, or when the patient comes in for a consult.

3. Take time to tell the patient or parent about the doctor and the practice.

Every orthodontic practice should go through a branding exercise to determine the messages that should be communicated to every patient. Branding is one of the most powerful parts of referral marketing.  Marketing creates an opportunity to shape the practice’s image and messaging. Practices that control their brand messaging have a much greater opportunity to be known for things that are appealing to patients.

4. Be open to questions and never appear rushed.

Always ask the parent or patient if they have any questions. If they don’t, you might recognize that there was something they didn’t ask and point it out to them like this: “When you come in Mrs. Smith you and Johnny will be here for about an hour. During that time, you’ll have an opportunity to meet Julie our orthodontic treatment coordinator who everybody adores and Dr. Smith, who loves to meet every new patient.”  This scripting focuses on an expectation that Johnny will become a patient in the practice.

5. End on the new patient call high note.

Always end the new patient phone call by using the following scripting. “Mrs. Smith, thank you again so much for calling. Once again, my name is Jessica. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I am personally looking forward to meeting you and Johnny.”

The new patient phone call is a patient or parent’s critical first look into the practice. They will make judgments no matter what you do or say, and it is in the best interest of the practice to shape and control the image that is being portrayed. The truth is that most orthodontic practices don’t do this (although many believe that they do.) Often, the orthodontic front desk team is working in a rushed state as they are taking care of other activities, tasks, and patients. This leads to shorter new patient phone calls without any of the relationship building or branding that needs to be included in order to advance the probability that the new patient caller will result in a start. OP

Roger Levin

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is the CEO and founder of Levin Group, a leading practice management consulting firm that has worked with over 30,000 practices to increase production. A recognized expert on orthodontic practice management and marketing, he has written 67 books and over 4,000 articles and regularly presents seminars in the U.S. and around the world. To contact Levin or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Ortho Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit levingroup.com or email rlevin@levingroup.com