The New Patient Phone Call
The new patient experience starts with the first phone call. The better that call, the better the appointment process will be – on both sides.
Nailing that First Call
It is important that your staff sounds pleasant and happy over the phone at all times; have your staff answer the phone in a natural and personable way. It’s okay for each staff member to find their own way to answer the phone if it sounds genuine. Be sure each staff member clearly states their name, the office name, and some form of greeting.
Our office uses a New Patient Interview process, which I highly recommend. Make sure each staff member always has one of these on hand to write down a patient’s name the first time it’s given, to avoid having to ask the patient a second time. We also use this to keep track of referral sources for marketing purposes.
For instance, a greeting may go something like, “Mary, we are so glad you found our practice. Who can we thank for referring you to our office?” Later, we transfer the information to the dental software to keep track of the referral.
There are also questions to help us learn more about the patient. We like to ask them to tell us about their dental history, themselves, why they are needing a new dentist, etc. Each staff member usually finds their own groove in these questions, and you find that each new patient may require their own set of questions.
The goal is to get the patient talking to help find out if our office is a good fit for them, ensure we can address their main concern when they come in, and make them feel like we understand their needs.
Once we feel like we have a good relationship with the patient and addressed their concerns, we like to tell the patient about our office and which steps take place during all new patient appointments. Our new patients need to know they will be here for two hours. We also like to let them know they may not be able to get a cleaning at that first appointment. This helps set the expectation for the patient before they arrive.
Next, we’re ready to find an appointment time. Once we find a spot on the schedule, we always ask them if they want to be on the call list to come in sooner. This helps our schedule if we have spots open unexpectedly and gets the patient in sooner.
We also make sure to get a good phone number and email address for the patient so we can contact them if an earlier appointment does open.
The last thing we do is get the patient’s insurance information and send them a welcome email with a link to fill out the new patient forms online. Ideally, if all this is completed, when the patient comes in, they won’t have to do anything but go straight back to the hygienist for the appointment.
Once the call is complete, we keep the new patient interview records to use at our morning huddle on the day of the patient’s appointment. In the huddle, we talk about how the patient heard about us, what dental work the patient previously had done, what the patient needs to be done, and how we can best help this patient.
It is important that when the patient arrives for their first appointment, we greet them by their name and welcome them to our office. If time permits, we like to give them a tour of our office.
Then it’s time for them to go back for their appointment, where hopefully, we have set their expectations for what is to come!
About the Author
Hannah Lively, FAADOM, has worked at Allen Family Dentistry for over a decade, starting out as an Insurance Coordinator. Since then, she has helped the Allens open three additional offices and now serves in the role of Business Manager. Hannah is a graduate of Texas Christian University with a bachelor’s degree in business focusing on Entrepreneurial Management.
Hanna has been an AADOM member since 2018 and earned her Fellowship (FAADOM) designation in 2021. She is also a member of the East Texas AADOM Chapter.
Her favorite part of working in the dental office is getting to know the patients, hearing their stories, and helping them achieve the smile of their dreams.